Last year Roy Halladay had a down year compared to his standards. However, could you pick out 2012 in a lineup without the typical surface stats such as wins and losses?
Each row represents one year of performance between 2009-2012.
If you guessed B, you’re correct.
For your reference A is 2011, C is 2009 and D is 2010.
I was surprised to see there wasn’t a big difference between last year and his three previous years. However, upon closer inspection there were concerning trends about 2012 when compared to average of the three years prior: the strikeout rate (K/9) decreased 6%, walk rate (BB/9) increased 66%, home run rate (HR/9) increased 49% and the velocity has decreased year-over-year from 93.74 mph in 2009 to 91.15 in 2012.
The biggest difference about 2012 was he generated more fly balls and less ground balls, which could be the reason for the increased number of home runs allowed.
Do more fly balls equate to more runs?
If we all can take out our sabermetric textbooks we’ll see ground balls are a pitcher's best friend. Ground balls create 0.05 runs per out, fly balls create 0.13 runs per out and line drives create 1.26 runs per out. Therefore, by increasing his fly ball rate, he increased his run expectancy.
Can Halladay generate more ground balls?
The decrease in ground balls coincides with the decreased effectiveness of the cutter, the pitch he throws 40% of the time:
It’s easy to point out the decline of velocity as the reason for the cutter becoming more hittable, but check out the location of the cutter in 2012 compared to the three years prior. Do you notice any differences?
Compare the differences in pitch location of Halladay's cutter:
The cutter was thrown more frequently up, in the middle of zone. Combine that with a decrease in velocity, it’s no surprise opposing hitters feasted on the cutter.
Will Halladay bounce back?
Prior to last year, Halladay was seen as the best pitcher in baseball because of his superior command, the ability to mix his pitches and to change speeds. Overall, the 2012 season was a mixture of bad luck, injuries and drop in ability, which created a perfect storm of mediocrity. The days of Halladay providing the value of a fantasy ace are no longer in play, but if he can locate his cutter he can still be a great pitcher.
Currently he’s going as the 20th (80th overall) pitcher overall at Mock Draft Central, right behind C.C. Sabathia and just ahead of Yovani Gallardo. That’s too early in the draft because there’s no upside with that pick.
For the pick to be valuable Halladay would have to hit Bill James’ projections:
There are still too many question marks to take him 20th, but if he slips beyond the 27th pitcher (C.J. Wilson), he’ll be a tremendous value.