Roy Halladay Is Fine

Roy Halladay allowed five runs in six innings to the new division rival Washington Nationals, ballooning his ERA to 3.58. It was his second mediocre start in the month of May. For most pitchers, it’s business as usual, but Halladay has earned a reputation as baseball’s most consistently elite pitcher over the years. As a result, last night combined with his 5.1 IP, 8 ER start against the Atlanta Braves on May 2, people are panicking, wondering what’s wrong with Halladay.

Myself, Paul Boye, and Ryan Sommers have covered his season in exhaustive detail, so I won’t bother you with another treatise on the subject. However, I would like to point out some stats that indicate to me that Halladay’s season shouldn’t cause worry.

  • Strikeout rate as a percentage of batters faced
  • 2012: 19.7%
  • Career: 18.7%
  • Note: His strikeout rate had been higher in the last four seasons, two with the Blue Jays and two with the Phillies. In 2003, when Halladay won his first Cy Young award, his strikeout rate was 19.1%, however.
  • Walk rate as a percentage of batters faced
    • 2012: 4.6%
    • Career: 5.0%
    • Note: Converse to his strikeout rate, Halladay is walking more batters than he had in the previous four seasons, but he still has a K-BB ratio in excess of four-to-one. Only 17 qualified starting pitchers have an equal or better ratio (including three of his teammates).
  • Batting average on balls in play.
    • 2012: .290
    • Career: .292
    • Note: His BABIP is interesting. This year, his BABIP on ground balls and line drives are .296 and .677, respectively, compared to .202 and .749 over his career. It’s a very small sample, so there’s a ton of variance here. Still, it’s interesting and something to monitor going forward. At the very least, we know he isn’t getting hit hard.
  • Home run rate as a percentage of fly balls induced
    • 2012: 7.6%
    • Career: 9.7%
    • Note: His overall fly ball rate is also in line with his career average (30%, 26%).
    • 2012: 3.58/3.30/3.37
    • Career: 3.24/3.16/3.26
    • Note: Rather self-explanatory. xFIP is an ERA retrodictor that uses a pitcher’s fly ball rate, while SIERA accounts for the interaction between a pitcher’s batted ball profile and his strikeout and walk rates.

    Basically, if you’re unhappy with Halladay’s performance thus far, then you’re unhappy with his career to date. No, he isn’t as dominant as he was during the last two years, but they are at the far right of the bell curve. His 2012 performance is right in the middle of his Hall of Fame bell curve, and that’s plenty good enough atop the starting rotation.