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Entries in Roy Halladay (15)

Tuesday
Dec102013

Doc Halladay Checks Out

Roy Halladay retired as a Blue Jay on Monday -- thirteen years, 2,700-plus innings and two Cy Young Awards after his career appeared to be over. In 2000, a 23-year-old Halladay was clubbed for the highest single-season ERA ever (10.64) for a pitcher tossing at least 65 innings. His ERA was the better part of a run higher than Steve Blass (9.85 ERA in 1973) -- and they named a disease after that guy. But rather than becoming the latest skeleton in the ever-expanding graveyard of failed top pitching prospects, Halladay re-emerged as one of the greatest hurlers of his generation.

His 131 ERA+ ranks 14th all-time among pitchers throwing at least 2,500 career frames, between Greg Maddux and Hal Newhouser. With 65.6 Wins Above Replacement, Doc places 33rd and keeps company with the likes of Luis Tiant and Bob Feller. At his peak, Halladay was a 220-plus inning a year horse who surrendered homers and handed out walks as if doing so would get him shipped back to Triple-A Syracuse, like he was during that apocalyptic 2000 season.

Unfortunately, the 36-year-old's ailing back and shoulder will prevent him from forging yet another comeback. But, instead of lamenting Halladay's premature retirement, let's celebrate the blend of efficiency, command and craft that made him so difficult to square up. Four of Doc's peak seasons (2008-11) came during the Pitch F/X era. Here's a closer look at how Halladay carved up hitters over that time frame, potentially earning himself a bust in Cooperstown.

He jumped ahead of hitters from the get-go

Halladay tossed a first pitch strike about 66 percent of the time from 2008-11, blowing away the 59 percent MLB average for starters and trailing only three deans of pitching efficiency: Mike Mussina, Maddux (still sharp during their final seasons in '08) and Cliff Lee. By putting hitters at a disadvantage from the moment they stepped into the box, Halladay compiled a 6.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio over that four-year stretch.

He expanded batters' zones

Doc induced hitters to chase his stuff off the plate at the highest clip (33.6 percent of the time) among all National League starters. And, in typical Halladay fashion, he didn't accomplish that with just one offering. Rather, he used everything in his kitchen sink repertoire to bait opposing batters:

He had surgical command

Halladay threw lots of strikes, but they were also quality strikes. From '08 to '11, MLB starters tossed about 24 percent of their pitches to the horizontal middle of the strike zone. Pitches catching that much of the plate get hammered (a .500 opposing slugging percentage from 2008-11). Halladay avoided hitters' hot spots, however, throwing just 20.8 percent of his pitches to the middle of the zone.

In fact, no starter threw more pitches "on the black" during that period. A pitch is considered "on the black" if the center of the ball is at least 8.5 inches away from the middle of the plate, but part of the ball is still in the strike zone. Hitters do far less damage against such well-located pitches, slugging a mere .369 overall and .338 versus Halladay.

Now that Halladay is done, the conversation inevitably turns toward his Hall of Fame candidacy. In terms of WAR, he's in the same neighborhood as the average Cooperstown inductee (69) and ranks ahead of luminaries like Juan Marichal, Whitey Ford and Sandy Koufax, himself a star who shone brilliantly for a shorter period of time. Halladay might not have enjoyed 20-plus years in the majors, but he was truly elite during a more condensed career. If it worked for Koufax, it should work for Doc, too.

Tuesday
May072013

Batters Stop Chasing Halladay's Stuff, Chase Him Out of Games

Roy Halladay is headed to the disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation, following seven brutal starts in which the two-time Cy Young Award winner surrendered nearly an earned run per inning pitched (8.65 ERA) and posted a walk rate (4.5 BB/9) approaching two and a half times his career average (1.9 BB/9).

Much has been made of Halladay's diminished velocity, as he has lost a tick off his fastball each of the past two seasons (91.5 MPH average in 2011, 90.5 MPH in 2012, 89.7 MPH in 2013). Hitters are taking advantage, slugging .574 against Halladay's not-so-hot heater this season after slugging about .390 in both 2011 and 2012. Halladay's slower fastball is getting crushed when batters swing. But there's another nasty side effect to his lost velocity -- opponents are swinging far less often when Halladay throws a fastball out of the strike zone.

Take a look at hitters' swing rate by pitch location against Halladay's fastball during his glory days in 2011, and during his hellish 2013. The pitch induced a healthy number of chases in 2011, especially on stuff thrown high. This year, he's not having any luck getting hitters to expand their zones against his sub-90 fastball:

Hitters' swing rate by pitch location vs. Halladay's fastball, 2011

   

Hitters' swing rate by pitch location vs. Halladay's fastball, 2013 

           

Back in 2011, Halladay got hitters to chase his fastball 26% of the time. This year? Just 11%. That's less than half of the MLB average for starting pitchers (24%), and ranks dead last among all National League starters.

The difference between 92 MPH and 89 MPH might not seem career-altering at first blush, but it makes a difference to hitters. Since the start of the 2011 season, batters have chased 26% of fastballs thrown at 92 MPH, and have slugged .434. Against 89 MPH "heat," they have chased 24% and slugged .486. Halladay's decline in chases has been far more severe than most. But unless he comes back with his old zip, he shouldn't expect hitters to be as jumpy against his fastball as they used to be.

Wednesday
Mar202013

Hanley Ramirez to have MRI and more

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez could be sidelined for more than two months or maybe just two weeks because of an injured left thumb.

"They've painted both pictures, and it's a pretty big window," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday. "We're guessing."

Ramirez was hurt diving for a ball while playing third base Tuesday night in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic. He helped the Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico 3-0.

Source: ESPN.com

Yankees GM unsure if Jeter will be ready for opening day

"The Yankees are bracing for the possibility of an Opening Day without Derek Jeter, as the captain's availability is now in doubt after an anti-inflammatory cortisone injection was administered to his left ankle on Wednesday morning.

General manager Brian Cashman said that the stiffness and soreness Jeter is experiencing with his surgically repaired ankle is not a serious setback, but Jeter may need to begin the year on the disabled list with the club's April 1 opener approaching.

"I just can't rule it out," Cashman said. "We've got to do what's right for him. Whatever is right for him, it will be right for us."

Source: MLB.com

Doubront has talent, but has adjustments to make

"Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have a World Series championship and a no-hitter on their résumés. John Lackey has started a dozen playoff games in his career, and Ryan Dempster has thrown 200 or more innings seven times in his career.

But the most talented pitcher in the Red Sox rotation may be 25-year-old lefthander Felix Doubront, whose list of accomplishments would not take long to read.

After five seasons in the minors, Doubront had short stints with the Red Sox in 2010 and ’11 before earning a place in the rotation a year ago. He was 11-10 with a 4.86 earned run average, statistics that at face value were not particularly impressive."

Source: Boston.com

MLB sets sights on A-Rod, Braun

"Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers' All-Star outfielder, knows they are out there.

Everywhere he turns, everywhere he looks, they are there.

They are talking to his friends. They are talking to his peers. They are talking to his associates. They are scouring through paperwork. They keep digging.

They are the Major League Baseball investigators."

Source: USAtoday.com

Pujols won't let sore foot slow him down

"Albert Pujols is wearing custom orthotics for the first time in his career, and he has to spend a little extra time in the training room, but those are the only concessions the Angels first baseman has made for the plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

“I’ve had it for the last seven years; is that a problem?” Pujols said of the condition, which causes inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot and can be very painful when it flares up. “It’s one of those things that comes and goes.”

Pujols has been eased into action this spring as he recovers from last October’s surgery on his right knee — he played the field for the first time Tuesday — but Manager Mike Scioscia said Pujols’ knee hasn’t been as big a concern lately as the foot."

Source: LAtimes.com

Halladay trying to regain strength

"And the mystery continues.

Roy Halladay sat at his locker Tuesday morning, fresh off eating breakfast. He looked skinny. And, considering Halladay’s last three or so days, holding down breakfast might have been a big accomplishment.

Two days earlier, Halladay ignited a storm of worry by leaving his start after just one inning of work. Both the Phillies and Halladay said it was a stomach virus.

“I feel like I’m going in the right direction,” Halladay said. “Just bad timing for a setback.”

Source: Courierpostonline.com

Bud Norris to start Astros opener

"Bud Norris has been considered a “B”-level player his entire career. A good but not great pitcher; a solid athlete who’s never been a star.

Wednesday, the former second-tier pitcher was named the Astros’ opening-day starter.

Norris, 28, will take the mound next Sunday at 7 p.m. against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park in MLB’s 2013 season-opener. The game will be televised on ESPN.

The honor fulfills a childhood dream for Norris, who’s long wanted to be able to call himself an opening-day pitcher. When Norris joined the Astros in 2009, he asked Roy Oswalt what it was like to receive the ball on one of sports’ most memorable days. Now, Norris’ name will forever be attached to the Astros’ American League debut, and he’ll pitch before family and friends on national TV."

Source: Chron.com

Giants and Posey working on mega deal

"The Giants have quietly started contract talks with the goal of locking up young superstar catcher Buster Posey to a mega-deal.

Word is, there's a decent-sized gap at this point, though not enough of a gap that the team or Posey has given up trying. Posey surely would like to be a Giant for life if at all possible, and the Giants, run by very smart and deep-pocketed people, wouldn't be opposed to such an arrangement, either, if it can be accomplished.

The question is, how long?

And of course, for how much?

These are not easy questions since Posey is a once-in-a-generation type player who's won two World Series and an MVP award , and he is just starting out."

Source: Cbssportsline.com