What the New Roy Halladay Looks Like

Following last night’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury described what Roy Halladay looked like on the mound early in his start. It’s a bit depressing:

Back then, he carved up hitters with a lively fastball that he could cut or sink away from the barrel of a bat. When he stood on the mound, he looked like the baddest man in town, his shoulders broad, his neck strong.

The life on Halladay’s fastball is gone now, maybe never to return. Physically, he no longer looks like the baddest man in town. He is thinner. Truth be told, he looks gaunt. Where once his uniform top fit snugly over his strong shoulders, it now appears to hang off him as if it belongs to his big brother.

His fastball routinely sat in the low- to mid-90′s, but now averages in the mid- to high-80′s, touching 90 MPH every now and then when he has enough mustard.

I broke Halladay’s 2013 into two groups, before and after his injury and compared them to his 2011 season, the last time he was in top form. This really illustrates how far he has fallen. First, some of the result-based stats:

Pitches PA K% BB% BABIP wOBA
2011 3466 933 23.6% 3.8% .305 .253
Thru 5/5/13 626 155 22.6% 11.0% .273 .364
Since 8/25/13 270 76 10.5% 11.8% .231 .335

Stats based on the strike zone and how he has affected hitters:

Swing% Miss% Strike% In Play% Zone% Chase% ClStk%
2011 50.1% 24.2% 68.7% 38.8% 50.8% 33.9% 37.2%
Thru 5/5/13 41.4% 26.6% 58.6% 38.2% 48.6% 19.3% 29.4%
Since 8/25/13 40.0% 15.7% 59.3% 50.9% 45.6% 26.5% 32.1%

Because Halladay is around the strike zone less often, hitters aren’t as anxious to swing at pitches like a cutter in on the hands or a back door curve. When they do swing, Halladay hasn’t had the stuff to make them miss.

In 2011, Halladay held hitters to a .253 wOBA, which is the pitching equivalent to turning every hitter into Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (.253) or Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. In 2013 overall, hitters have posted a .355 wOBA against him, which is equivalent to Orioles outfielder Adam Jones or Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown.

Halladay still has a few more starts left in 2013 to show improvement. If the current schedule holds, he will face the Padres at home on the 11th, the Marlins at home on the 16th, the Mets at home on the 22nd, and the Braves in Atlanta on the 27th. If the Phillies have any intent to bring Halladay back on a one-year, incentive-laden deal, they would need some assurance that the 36-year-old (he’ll be 37 next May) can still hit the strike zone with regularity, as it’s ostensibly the only tool he has left in his eroding arsenal. If he can’t even do that, then he simply cannot consistently compete with Major League hitters.

As they say, all good things must come to an end and unfortunately we may be witnessing the waning days of Halladay’s career. Even Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, arguably the best left-handed pitcher in baseball history, was a shell of his former self after the 1984 season. From 1985-88, after which he retired, Carlton posted a 5.21 ERA over 570 innings with the Phillies and four other teams. Halladay is still pitching for pride and to tack on a few more stats to what is currently a borderline Hall of Fame career.

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44 comments

  1. bubba0101

    September 05, 2013 07:23 AM

    You really consider him a borderline HoF? Why so? What about his stats and career doesnt make him HoF? Im just curious since they have yet to respond to my votes for the HoF…

  2. hk

    September 05, 2013 07:33 AM

    I think it’s a little too early to write him off. I also think that it’s dangerous to take anything from the small sample size of his post-surgery outings. I believe that both Roy and the team rushed his return – first to the minors, then to the big club following the 18 inning game – because of his impending free agency. If he was under contract to the team in 2014, I suspect – I have no basis for this other than my own suspicion – that he would be in Clearwater or someplace else other than Philadelphia working on his mechanics and restoring his strength and velocity.

  3. JM

    September 05, 2013 07:40 AM

    I don’t believe anything this season is going to show where Halladay’s performance will be next season. Pitching is all about repeating the motion. that is why he and Cliff Lee are/were so effective, they can/could repeat their motion. He is learning to pitch pain free. He needs the reps to get that motion down. He didn’t suddenly forget how to throw strikes, he hasn’t had the reps with a clean shoulder. I am not so foolish to think he will ever be 2010 Doc again, but neither will he be this Halladay either…not for a few more years anyway…

  4. LTG

    September 05, 2013 08:34 AM

    I agree with hk. And, BB, I believe the stabilization rates are not applicable here precisely because Halladay is working back from an injury and adjusting to a brand new arsenal. He seems to still be developing command of his pitches at their new velocities. If his TT isn’t stable, neither will his peripherals be.

    I doubt Halladay will get any velocity back, but he still has good movement. If he can’t get back his K% entirely perhaps he will figure out how to become an excellent GB pitcher, like a Tim Hudson.

    I also have trouble believing Halladay won’t make the HoF in his first 5 years of eligibility. He’s got the decade of dominance and a ton of lore.

    Also, what the &*^$ is Salisbury on about with Halladay’s posture and bearing?

  5. Joecatz

    September 05, 2013 08:38 AM

    Well they stabilize Bill, but at the same time where he’s missing hard (mainly the cutter and 2 seamer) he’s missing based on mechanics and arm slot. Until he finds repetition (And that might not happen) I have a hard time putting much stock in the statistics.

    One thing that stood out to me last night was how effective his change up was. 4 of his five strike outs came off that pitch. Three to Zimmerman, werth and Desmond. He got out of the jams with the off speed stuff as well.

    Basically, he’s still not there command wise with the cutter and fastball but he’s savvy enough to know when to experiment and when to pitch to situation.

    I’m probably more optimistic than most, but I don’t care about the walks that much right now. I care about him evolving

    For me, I’m not watching a slow death, I’m watching a slowly evolving rebirth.

  6. Aaron H

    September 05, 2013 08:55 AM

    Yeah, not sure where the borderline HOF case comes in, especially when you look at the comparable pitchers with his career WAR total and 7-year peaks (www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_P.shtml). Maybe not an absolute sure thing like Pedro’s absolute dominance for some time, or Maddux’s longevity (maybe Roy can get it back though), but I’ll say it’s pretty likely that he makes the HOF if his comparable would be Mussina, Glavine, or Smoltz.

    Also, is it just me or does anyone else get Kyle Kendrick’s page as another hit when googling “Roy Halladay Baseball Reference”? I’d say that makes perfect sense.

  7. Chuck

    September 05, 2013 09:10 AM

    I think everyone commenting on Halladay should read this first: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007206.htm

    “Recovery can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months….If you had repair done, your body still needs time to heal after arthroscopic surgery, just as you would need time to recover from open surgery. Because of this, your recovery time may still be long.”

    It seems unlikely we’ll know anything for sure until next season.

  8. joecatz

    September 05, 2013 09:10 AM

    The Phillies are definitely going to have an interesting decision either way. Assuming Lee, Hamels, MAG penciled into the rotation, the last two spots basically come from

    Kendrick
    Lannan
    MArtin
    Cloyd
    Pettibone
    Halladay
    Free agent
    trade

    if you assume that halladay takes a discount on a one year deal that is similar in cost to what you’d pay Kendrick in Arbitration?

    when you look at the free agent options out there, my gut kinda says you go Halladay, Pettibone, offer arb to Kendrick and trade him, see what Lannan wants as depth…

    I don’t know folks.

  9. LTG

    September 05, 2013 10:01 AM

    Apparently, with regard to the posture thing, I’m the crazy one, not Salisbury.

  10. Pencilfish

    September 05, 2013 10:30 AM

    The graph shows an uptick in velocity for every pitch between 08/13 and 09/13. SSS aside, if this trend continues, he will regain some (but maybe not all) of his pre-2012 velocity profile. It would be interesting to see this graph again after his next 4 starts.

  11. Pencilfish

    September 05, 2013 10:38 AM

    joecatz,

    If Hallady continues to show gradual improvement over his next 4 starts, I think it would be crazy for RAJ not to offer him a short-term deal with heavy performance-based incentives, not too dissimilar to what he did with Utley.

    A bigger concern is other teams may offer better deals. How badly do the Phillies want him back then?

  12. Phillie697

    September 05, 2013 10:58 AM

    @LTG,

    Why can’t he gain some of the velo back? Look at Bill’s chart. There was a noticible uptick in velo from August to Sept. I’m still mourning that he won’t be 2011 Doc ever again, but he still has a chance to be an effective pitcher.

    That said, whether he should do that in Philly is still up to debate. The expectations from the fan base might be too high if he sticks around.

    “Maybe not an absolute sure thing like Pedro’s absolute dominance for some time, or Maddux’s longevity…”

    Hate to say it, but Maddux had both. Check out his 1992-1998. 1.52 ERA in 202 innings? Yeah, that’s not dominant or anything. There is a reason why he’s probably the best pitcher I have ever seen or will ever see in my lifetime.

  13. joecatz

    September 05, 2013 10:59 AM

    I honestly don’t think Roy Halladay comes back next year for the money. I think he comes back for the ability to be guaranteed a rotation spot, for a team he wants to play for, that he feels has a chance to compete.

    And I’m not sure there’s really a better fit for him than Philly.

  14. Phillie697

    September 05, 2013 11:06 AM

    @joecatz,

    I’m sure HE wants to come back, I’m not sure it’s necessarily a good idea. Do you want to stick around in a city that will always remind you you’re just not as good as you once were, or would you rather go to, say, the Cubs where they will revere you like an fine aged wine ala Greg Maddux in SD or, for that matter, Pedro Martinez in Philly?

  15. joecatz

    September 05, 2013 11:09 AM

    “Why can’t he gain some of the velo back? Look at Bill’s chart. There was a noticible uptick in velo from August to Sept. I’m still mourning that he won’t be 2011 Doc ever again, but he still has a chance to be an effective pitcher.”

    I agree 100%.

    I found it very telling last night that, while following the game on twitter, that everyone from hard core fans, to the beat writers, were describing Halladays first two innings as “hard to watch” and one person went so far as to say that it was obvious he wasn’t going to get anything more than a minor league invite to spring training…

    three innings later, and people are saying things like “wow, it was great to see Doc look good” and “Something clicked for Halladay tonight” etc….

    the whole point here, that I think gets severely overlooked is that with all the crap that this season has brought its extremely easy and almost intrinsic to immediately find the bad in every little thing.

    He may never be THAT roy Hallday again, but he’s still ROY HALLADAY.

    Roy halladay knows how to pitch. As long as his arm can sustain it, and as long as he can take the time to repeat his mechanics, his experience, his ability etc.. makes him as good or better than just about every 4th or 5th starter out there.

    there are still a lot of if’s, but I’m sorry the guy that srruck out Zimmerman and Werth on two Hamelsesque change ups back to back last night, was the Doc you should expect next season, provided his 15 years of experience, reconstructed shoulder, and work ethic allow him to find his repeatable delivery between now and april.

    And as long as his shoulder doesn’t give, as long as there’s no pain? I wouldn’t bet against him. No way.

  16. Pencilfish

    September 05, 2013 11:57 AM

    joecatz,

    The better deal I referred to may not have much to do with money. What if other teams with much higher post-season chances come calling? Reds, Pirates, Baltimore, etc? Roy is on record saying he wants to pitch in the WS. Can the Phillies do that in the next 2-3 years?

  17. joecatz

    September 05, 2013 12:10 PM

    here’s the thing though. Do you think Doc believes that a big reason WHY the Phillies didn’t make the post season the past two years had to do with his inability to be effective?

    meaning, does he believe that they have the other pieces in place to make a run if he contributes?

    right or wrong, I believe he does. at least as much of a shot as the teams you mentioned.

    Now if he’s smart, he waits to see what OTHER moves the team makes before making that leap of faith, but I truly believe that the players feel that they are as good now as they were then, and that the last two years have been bad dreams more than bad realities.

    its not my personal viewpoint, but It’s not out of the realm of reality to think that Doc would believe a few bullpen additions and a strong FA signing in RF would make a huge difference.

  18. pedro3131

    September 05, 2013 12:42 PM

    I don’t think the team that scored the 3rd fewest runs and allowed the 3rd most runs is merely a few bullpen additions and a RF away from contending…

  19. Dave GAUNTT

    September 05, 2013 01:33 PM

    He’s coming off surgery… Do you think he’s going to be 100% right away. Come on man…

  20. Phillie697

    September 05, 2013 01:44 PM

    @pedro3131,

    That’s because you don’t have your RAJ thinking cap on.

  21. Major Malfunction

    September 05, 2013 01:45 PM

    Watching him pitch, sometimes his sinker has tremendous arm side run to the point it resembles a screwball. However every time I noticed this incredible movement, it was a inside ball to a RH. And then possibly in the same at bat, he will throw a sinker that is nothing more than a spinning fastball being effected by gravity than manipulation.

    Its obvious his consistency and command just aren’t there. If he is honest about his health, for once, and he’s saying he has full range of motion for the first time in over a year, that could explain it. He’s literally relearning his mechanics all over again.

    Will his velocity come back? Maybe back to 90mph? But if he can get that kind of movement, but show consistent command, there is no doubt he can go back to being a #2 or #3.

    I think his #1 years are behind him. Historically, unless you are a knuckleball pitcher or Jamie Moyer, its all downhill from 37.

  22. LTG

    September 05, 2013 02:33 PM

    On Halladay’s velocity:

    I didn’t mean to say Halladay *can’t* get any velo back (and by back I meant from where he sat last night). I simply doubt that he will because most pitchers coming back from shoulder surgery have already reached their top velo point by now. Halladay could be an outlier for a number of reasons.

    Regardless of velocity I am optimistic about his ability to be effective next year. I’d love to see him return on a team friendly contract. I doubt there will be a better risk-benefit option out there, and the team will be a fringe competitor at best.

  23. Mark66

    September 05, 2013 03:29 PM

    Unless he replicate what Maddux did in the end I’m afraid to say he is done. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the truth. It is what it is.

  24. Larry

    September 05, 2013 03:43 PM

    Doc was forced to come back too early like RH did. Once he starts training harder and lifting weights, he might gain the weight and strength back. It takes time. For anyone who doesn’t think Doc is a sure bet to make the HOF, please look at these stats.

    www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hallaro01.shtml

    Now remember he pitched most of his career in the AL East in the steroid era. Just the Yankees and Redsox alone had so many perennial allstars that were power hitters. A lot of them were on steroids and other PEDS. Imagine how tough it was to pitch against Aroid, Giambi, Big Papi, Manny Ramirez, and even non cheaters like Jeter for most of your career. Doc is a class act and I would love to see him in a Phillies uniform next year.

  25. LTG

    September 05, 2013 09:32 PM

    I’ve already said that Halladay should make the HoF. So what follows has nothing to do with that. But the AL East stuff is way, way, way overblown. While the Yankees and Red Sox were two of the best hitting AL teams in the decade Halladay pitched there, the Orioles and Rays were two of the worst. The AL West was arguably just as hard or harder on pitchers because there wasn’t a bad hitting team among them until the Mariners went in the tank late in the decade. And the difference between the best and the worst divisions with respect to hitting is not that big, even taking the pitcher hitting in the NL.

    At any rate, Halladay saw mixed results against the Yankees and Red Sox. He was great against the Yankees and bad against the Red Sox. Given that these samples are only just over a season’s worth of starts and they are stretched over many seasons, I put zero significance in them.

    Halladay was great and it had nothing to do with the division he pitched in most of his career. Larry, nevertheless, is right in at least this: writers will praise him for pitching in the AL East when they write their HoF encomiums.

  26. Larry

    September 06, 2013 12:39 AM

    @LTG,

    Speaking of the Rays, they really became a very good team in 2008. Doc won 20 games that year, not a fluke considering his ERA was excellent in that division. You can look at all the saber stats even in 2008, that was a real tough division with many great hitters. If you compare the AL East to the NL East for all those years he pitched, it’s not even close, not to mention the DH. I’m not sure LTG why you would choose to denounce such a simple observation of the 2 divisions. Just check the offensive output of the AL East vs the NL East, put your glasses on.

  27. Phillie697

    September 06, 2013 12:48 AM

    Yes, because we really should base HoF voting on any particular season. By that criteria Danny Jackson should be in the HoF.

  28. Larry

    September 06, 2013 01:10 AM

    Not any particular season, his whole career. I was stating that the Rays were good the last few years he was in the AL. Mostly the Yankees and Redsox were unstoppable offenses for the bulk of Doc’s career. 697, You shouldn’t down play what Doc has done in his career. If he had been a Phillie all those years, his stats would have been much better.

  29. Larry

    September 06, 2013 01:24 AM

    The great Pedro Martinez would tell you how difficult is was pitching against the juiced up Yankees all those years. He even called them his daddy. They didn’t have the highest payroll in baseball, because they couldn’t hit. They were like an all-star team, bought and paid for.

  30. EricL

    September 06, 2013 01:39 AM

    Joe, when talking about next year’s rotation I’d also like to submit Masahiro Tanaka to the list.

    I doubt the Phils go that direction, but I’d be thrilled with a rotation of Lee, Hamels, Tanaka, MAG and Halladay/Pettibone/Kendrick. You’ll need some depth there considering the age and injury factor with some of those guys, but it has the potential to be really, really good.

    Other assorted thoughts:
    -Halladay is a clear HoFer in my estimation
    -I’d be really hesitant to make much of what he’s doing now. I agree with Joe that he’s adjusting to his new capabilities. I think the big thing is that he’s still working on stabilizing his release point.
    -Going back to something Bill said in another recent post (specifically referencing something Madson said), how many people who are opposed to PEDs would object to allowing Halladay access to any and all prescription drugs that would allow him to return to some semblance of his 2010/11 self? Is there any way that would be a bad thing for baseball?

  31. Joecatz

    September 06, 2013 06:03 AM

    Ooh. Tanaka is an interesting thought.

    Can you imagine an off season where the phillies signed Tanzania, abreu and MAG turned out to be like a 2-3 type guy?

    They literally could in some ways completely reverse fortunes and strategy in one leap. Never happen.but stil.

  32. LTG

    September 06, 2013 08:17 AM

    Larry, it is obviously harder to pitch in the AL than the NL for the simple reason that pitchers hit in the NL. You’re initial observation was not a comparison between AL and NL but the repetition of the AL East Narrative. I’m disputing the specific lore of the AL East. No one says that Colon or Hudson or Lackey had it tough and deserve extra merit points. That Halladay pitched in the AL East should add nothing to his HoF candidacy. That he he pitched in the AL, sure, although I’m not sure by how much his numbers would have improved.

    I always wear my glasses.

  33. LTG

    September 06, 2013 08:23 AM

    Tanaka’s slider looks nasty, but is he just a two pitch pitcher? And is he looking to make the move from Japan?

  34. joecatz

    September 06, 2013 08:56 AM

    He’s definitely making the move. There are some concerns that his fastball won’t play the way Darvish’s did, but he’s 24, has pitched in Japan for 7 seasons, has a career 8.5 K/9 to go with a 1.9 BB/9 and hasnt walked more than 1.3/9 since 2010. his whip in 11,12,13? 0.895, 1.035, 0.930 and his ERA in those seasons? 1.27, 1.87, 1.20

    he’s also 19-0 in 22 starts this season.

    he’s pretty much mimmicked what Darvish did with fewer walks.

    yeah.

    the bigger issue isn’t really the talent, so much as it is the process. It’s a blind posting with japanese guys. The highest bidder wins. So you have to assume he gets at least what Darvish got (6 years, 56mm plus the posting fee and signing bonus that brought the deal to about 100mm)

    but the thing here is that the Phillies can certainly afford that in more ways than one.

    a 6 year deal, worth $120mm if set up correctly, could end up only costing them about 10mm a year towards salary cap.

    it’s really more about making the right bid, and whether a team like Philly, with no experience in that arena can outmaneuver teams like Boston, the Cubs, Yankees, etc…

    but man… If they’re not in it I’d be shocked.

  35. EricL

    September 06, 2013 09:30 AM

    LTG, as Joe said, yes he’s looking to move to the US. And no, his arsenal isn’t just two pitches; his splitter is supposedly world class.

  36. LTG

    September 06, 2013 10:27 AM

    Thanks, Joe and 88. If the Phillies plan to exploit their market advantage this is one of the last frontiers remaining…

  37. LTG

    September 06, 2013 04:33 PM

    I just read Amaro claiming that the bullpen is a higher priority for next year than the starting rotation. This, despite the fact that the rotation right now will be Cole, Cliff, ?, ?, ?. I thought, Amaro is crazy: obviously, the rotation is more important. Maybe filling the 5th spot is less important than reconstructing the bullpen. But three spots!?!?

    Turns out my first thought, as usual, was wrong. It is not *crazy* to address the bullpen, although it might still be a mistake. To wit, a well used bullpen might pitch 500 innings, 1/3 of the innings pitched. In other words, the bullpen pitches the same amount of innings as 2.5 starters. A great bullpen can make up for a middling 3-5. Who’d-a-thunk?

    The argument that RAJ is nevertheless mistaken starts with the premise that producing a great bullpen is much harder than finding one or two good starters. Might this be worth an in-depth post?

  38. Phillie697

    September 09, 2013 12:30 PM

    @LTG,

    The operative phrase in your analysis is “a well used bullpen might pitch 500 innings, 1/3 of the innings pitched.” Who in your mind is this great manager we are going to get that in fact will used the bullpen well? Give me La Russa or Joe Madden and I’ll buy into the idea. Give Ryan Sandberg? Not so much.

    A well-managed bullpen that can produce GREAT results AND in GREAT quantity as you advocate would require a manager absolutely on top of his game. We don’t have one.

  39. Steve

    September 12, 2013 03:24 PM

    Halladay is a HOFer. He is the best pitcher post-Pedro/Maddux/Clemens. From 2002 to 2011 he threw 2194.2 IP with 2.97 ERA (148 ERA+) almost entirely in the AL East. He won 2 Cy Youngs with 2 seconds, a third, and 2 fifths. I could go on but you see the point.

  40. Steve

    September 12, 2013 03:35 PM

    @LTG

    Go to Baseball Prospectus and look at Halladay’s “Opponent OPS” over the years. This is not “OPS allowed” but the average OPS of hitters faced. Halladay’s is consistently way way above average with the Jays, so while it’s true that the AL East had both good and bad teams, it’s also true that Halladay faced much tougher opposition on average than most other pitchers.

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