The 2012 season was one to forget for Roy Halladay, as he posted a 4.49 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP while going 11-8 in 25 starts and 156.1 innings. While that would be slightly below average for many, it was a devastating collapse for someone who had posted a 2.86 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP from 2006 to 2011 while tossing 1,414.2 innings and winning 109 games.Halladay missed 50 days of the 2012 season while on the disabled list for a shoulder strain. While shoulder injuries can ruin careers, just see Brandon Webb, Hallday overcame a shoulder injury in 2004, which cost him 66 days of the season, to become one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball the next six seasons.
The major difference at this point is that Halladay will turn 36 years old on May 14 of the 2013 season. With his fastball clocked around 87 mph in his latest spring training start, can Halladay reinvent himself at this point of his career with diminishing stuff? In 2012, Halladay’s average fastball was 90.6 mph, down from 92.0 in 2011 and 92.6 in 2010; however, Halladay was sick with a stomach ailment in his recent start and pitchers tend to have dead-arm periods in the spring, but which issue is to blame: injuries, fatigue, regression, or age?
All good things must come to an end. One of the more recent careers saw a pitcher who had gone from this:
That is a 2.68 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 3,563.1 innings and 265 wins over 15 seasons.
From that point on it was this:
That is a 4.13 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 1,258 innings and 82 wins over six seasons.
The above statistics are those of the great Greg Maddux, who was dominant for nearly two decades before his career began a decline. In the late stages of his career, Maddux’s fastball was between 85.8 and 83.7 mph, but he was still a valuable pitcher, just not nearly as valuable as his peak seasons. It is the age 37 season, 2003, when his elite numbers became a bit more pedestrian. Maddux was on the disabled list once, during the 2002 season, and never had shoulder issues while reaching 200 innings in 18 of his 23 seasons.
While being dominant may be a thing of the past, Roy Halladay is still capable of being a valuable pitcher. Considering that he isn’t the staff ace for the Philadelphia Phillies (that title now belongs to Cole Hamels…maybe even Cliff Lee), Halladay doesn’t have to be an MVP-caliber pitcher anymore, he just needs to be average, and his average is still better than what most No.2 or No.3 starters can provide for teams around MLB, unless we’re talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers and their Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke tag-team.
The issue with Roy Halladay’s 2012 season is easily described – he wasn’t at his best every start. He is still an elite pitcher because if you take away two starts from the 25 that he made (July 23 and September 22), then Halladay’s ERA would have been just 3.93 instead of 4.49, which still isn’t his career 3.31 ERA, but not nearly as gross it looks on the back of his baseball card. He is still an elite pitcher because he deserves to show that he is healthy. He is still an elite pitcher because his stuff has been diminishing the last few seasons and he was still dominant in 2010 and 2011. He is still elite pitcher because he will be capable of adapting to the change in his “stuff” to have a few more excellent seasons.