NICK CAFARDO | ON BASEBALL
The late Roy Halladay will get my vote for the Hall of Fame when he’s eligible in 2019.
I do not write this because he died in a plane crash Tuesday. I write this because it is the way I was leaning before his death. He was a dominating pitcher. Filthy, nasty, unhittable . . . you name it — he was a throwback.
He won Cy Young Awards in each league, threw a no-hitter in the 2010 National League Division Series, threw a perfect game in May 2010, and made eight All-Star appearances.
Hitters used to call in sick when Halladay pitched. That’s how good he was.
I loved the grit. For me, he combined parts of Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, and Jack Morris. He had toughness and talent. How impressive was it that in an era when the complete game was fading into the past, he had 67 of them in his career?
He loved to finish games and got angry when he couldn’t. He still leads all pitchers since 2009 in complete games. Seven times he led his league in complete games.
He made a whopping 36 starts in 2003. He had a .659 lifetime winning percentage. He won 20 games twice. He had a total of 203 wins, and let’s face it, with bullpen usage becoming ever more prevalent, there likely won’t be another 300-game winner ever.
Halladay reminds me of Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina, both of whom got my vote for the Hall of Fame. He reminds me of Morris, who is up for a Veterans Committee vote this year after falling short on the Baseball Writers’ ballot for 15 years.
We have pitchers with win totals in the low 200s who are in. Pedro Martinez won 219 games. Hal Newhouser and Bob Lemon won 207. Don Drysdale won 209. Rube Marquard won 201.
Eminent baseball writer Jayson Stark tweeted, “How great was Roy Halladay in his prime (2002-11)? Here’s how great: His teams’ record when he started: 87 games over .500 (195-108). His teams’ record when anyone else started: 24 UNDER .500 (646-670). Difference in win percentage: 153 points. Incredible.”
Halladay should be talked about in the same breath as Clemens, Martinez, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Schilling, and Mussina. He belongs in the same stratosphere as those great pitchers of this most recent generation.
“One of my biggest regrets was not being able to put one of those [World Series] rings on his finger,” said former Red Sox first base coach and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “His teammates loved him. Everybody loved him. The work ethic was amazing. Off the charts. Everyone respected him as a pitcher, but more as a person.”
He had that Clemens/Ryan work ethic in that his physical and mental preparation for starts was head and shoulders above everyone else’s. His success was no accident. He worked at it. He never shortchanged the Blue Jays for 12 years or the Phillies for four years.
When his career finally ended after the 2013 season, it was because there was nothing left in his shoulder. He was 36 and he knew he was done. He never tried to make a comeback. He went as hard as he could for as long as he could. He left everything on the field.
When A.J. Burnett got to Toronto, he realized — and said so publicly — that he never did things right in his career until he met Halladay. Only then did he learn the right way to do things — things that ultimately enhanced his own career. Cole Hamels said Halladay had the same effect on him when they were together in Philadelphia.
Such influence on others by itself doesn’t make him a Hall of Famer, but it’s a glimpse into the work ethic that led to a career worthy of the Hall of Fame.
At his goodbye press conference, Halladay sobbed a bit, because leaving the game he loved was pretty tough. He made almost $150 million in his career and he certainly didn’t steal a penny of it. He was looking forward to the next phase of his life, with his children and wife and evidently flying airplanes.
His family will miss such a great man. If it’s up to me and my fellow BBWAA voters, his family will be at his induction ceremony in Cooperstown two summers from now.
A Hall of Famer? Yes, Roy Halladay was that.
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