Is Roy Halladay Finished?

Halladay2The 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:

Year Lg W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1988 NL 18 8 3.18 34 9 3 249.0 230 97 88 13 81 140 1.249
1989 NL 19 12 2.95 35 7 1 238.1 222 90 78 13 82 135 1.276
1990 NL 15 15 3.46 35 8 2 237.0 242 116 91 11 71 144 1.321
1991 NL 15 11 3.35 37 7 2 263.0 232 113 98 18 66 198 1.133
1992 NL 20 11 2.18 35 9 4 268.0 201 68 65 7 70 199 1.011
1993 NL 20 10 2.36 36 8 1 267.0 228 85 70 14 52 197 1.049
1994 NL 16 6 1.56 25 10 3 202.0 150 44 35 4 31 156 0.896
1995 NL 19 2 1.63 28 10 3 209.2 147 39 38 8 23 181 0.811
1996 NL 15 11 2.72 35 5 1 245.0 225 85 74 11 28 172 1.033
1997 NL 19 4 2.20 33 5 2 232.2 200 58 57 9 20 177 0.946
1998 NL 18 9 2.22 34 9 5 251.0 201 75 62 13 45 204 0.980
1999 NL 19 9 3.57 33 4 0 219.1 258 103 87 16 37 136 1.345
2000 NL 19 9 3.00 35 6 3 249.1 225 91 83 19 42 190 1.071
2001 NL 17 11 3.05 34 3 3 233.0 220 86 79 20 27 173 1.060
2002 NL 16 6 2.62 34 0 0 199.1 194 67 58 14 45 118 1.199
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/19/2013.

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:

Year Lg W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2003 NL 16 11 3.96 36 1 0 218.1 225 112 96 24 33 124 1.182
2004 NL 16 11 4.02 33 2 1 212.2 218 103 95 35 33 151 1.180
2005 NL 13 15 4.24 35 3 0 225.0 239 112 106 29 36 136 1.222
2006 NL 15 14 4.20 34 0 0 210.0 219 109 98 20 37 117 1.219
2006 NL 9 11 4.69 22 0 0 136.1 153 78 71 14 23 81 1.291
2006 NL 6 3 3.30 12 0 0 73.2 66 31 27 6 14 36 1.086
2007 NL 14 11 4.14 34 1 0 198.0 221 92 91 14 25 104 1.242
2008 NL 8 13 4.22 33 0 0 194.0 204 105 91 21 30 98 1.206
2008 NL 6 9 3.99 26 0 0 153.1 161 80 68 16 26 80 1.220
2008 NL 2 4 5.09 7 0 0 40.2 43 25 23 5 4 18 1.156
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/19/2013.

That is a 4.13 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 1,258 innings and 82 wins over six seasons.

Maddux1The 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.

Halladay1The 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.

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