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About This Roy Halladay Fellow

Posted By Bill Baer On April 22, 2010 @ 10:28 am In MLB,Philadelphia Phillies,Sabermetrics | 4 Comments

He is quite good.

Through four starts Halladay has four wins, accounting for nearly half of the team’s nine wins on the season. In those four starts, he has tossed a total of 33 innings and completed two games including last night’s shut-out of the Atlanta Braves. He has struck out 28 batters and walked only three. That’s right, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is nine-to-one.

While he has been a bit lucky…

  • 0.82 ERA
  • 2.00 FIP
  • 2.47 xFIP
  • 2.70 SIERA

…Halladay really could reach new heights with the Phillies in the National League as was hypothesized back in December:

The current fan projections at FanGraphs put Halladay at about a 2.80 ERA with a 7.67 K/9 and 1.33 BB/9. Those would significantly outpace his career average 3.43 ERA, 6.57 K/9 and 2.00 BB/9. However, given the softer competition and more efficient defense that will be behind him, Halladay — who turns 33 in May — may be poised to put up the best full season of his career in his inaugural season in Philadelphia.

The Phillies’ bullpen has pitched a grand total of three innings in games Halladay has started, just eight percent of the total innings. In case you’re wondering, here are the percentages for innings pitched by the bullpen in games started by the others:

  • Kendrick: 47%
  • Hamels: 31%
  • Happ: 43%
  • Moyer: 33%

Halladay has been able to pitch deep into games because he is economic with his pitches. He has averaged 12.5 pitches per inning so far. The others:

  • Moyer: 14.4
  • Kendrick: 15.7
  • Hamels: 16.8
  • Happ: 19.4

Halladay has been able to be economic with his pitches because has pitched to contact over the course of his career:

(Not depicted in the chart) Halladay gets into counts where the batter is ahead five percent less than the American League average in 2009. He also gets into two-strike counts three percent less. While Halladay certainly has the ability to rack up the strikeouts — and he does — his pitches are so good that he doesn’t need to notch three strikes on most batters since they very rarely make solid contact.

Halladay has pitched so well this year that the opposing teams’ pitchers have compiled in aggregate the second-highest OPS by lineup spot:

  • Batting first: .200 OBP/.200 SLG
  • Batting second: .133/.133
  • Batting third: .333/.533
  • Batting fourth: .133/.133
  • Batting fifth: .286/.462
  • Batting sixth: .308/.250
  • Batting seventh: .182/.273
  • Batting eighth: .250/.182
  • Batting ninth: .364/.455

Finally, one last nugget that involves Halladay’s ground ball prowess. 23 times this year Halladay has seen a runner on first base with less than two outs. Five of those 23 events (22%) ended with a ground ball double play. Now that’s impressive.

There has been some buzz that Roy Halladay could become the first pitcher to win 25 games in a season since Bob Welch in 1990.

Halladay plays for, arguably, the only truly dominant team in the National League, and probably the best offensive club in the NL. With apologies to Tim Lincecum, he’s probably the best pitcher in the game, which will become more apparent now that he’s left the AL East meat grinder and switched to the lighter-hitting Senior Circuit.

Both Welch and Halladay also understand that strikeouts are Fascist.  Welch earned a decision in an incredible 33 of his 35 starts in that 1990 season, which is only possible by consistently pitching deep into games.  To consistently reach the 8th inning against patient, modern-era lineups requires an efficient use of pitches.
While a pitcher’s W-L isn’t meaningful for analysis, it would be truly amazing if Halladay could rack up 25 wins in the era of pitch counts and La Russa bullpens. Fewer and fewer pitchers are pitching deep into games as J.C. Bradbury illustrates here.
Roy Halladay is simply an anomaly among the current batch of starting pitchers.

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