On Tuesday, former Phillies and Blue Jays great Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in Florida. As the baseball world reacts to the loss of a great pitcher and an even better person, many are also remembering the heights he reached during his career.
While he never won a World Series, he did just about everything else you can do in baseball. Anybody who was lucky enough to watch him pitch knows that few people were as magnetic on the mound.
Halladay was a work horse, the middle decade of his career a peak that few pitchers achieve — and maintain — in their careers. There was more to his life than just statistics and numbers, of course. No athlete is defined by the peaks and valleys they hit on the field.
But as we remember Halladay’s career and his contribution to the sport, stats are a helpful guide in recalling just what he accomplished. These aren’t all of the numbers that would wow you about his career, as he had so many that could floor you, but it’s a snapshot of all he accomplished in his 16 seasons.
Halladay was selected for the All-Star Game eight times. That puts him at 94th on the all-time list for most All-Star Game roster appearances. That’s out of all players, as well, not just pitchers. For somebody who was nearly out of the league in the early aughts, what a comeback.
Cy Young Awards won. He came in second in Cy Young voting two other years, and took home one honor in each league, AL in 2003 and NL in 2010. He received 100% of 1st place votes in 2010, a season in which he lead the league innings (250.2), complete games (9), shutouts (4), wins (21), and batters faced (993).
Where he ranks on the list of Cy Young Awards Share leaders. His career shares in Cy Young voting rank 9th all-time, at 3.50. That put him ahead of players like Orel Hershiser, Tim Lincecum, Dwight Gooden, Gaylord Perry, Tom Glavine, and Sandy Koufax. He trailed other greats, like Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, or Tom Seaver, but 9th on that list is nothing to scoff at by any means.
He threw one perfect game, against the Marlins in the spring of 2010. He threw 115 pitches to do it, striking out 11 batters on his way to the perfecto. He was one out away from notching a second one in just his second career start, but lost it on a home run.
In that perfect game, Halladay threw more than 12 pitches in an inning only two times. Think about that. In sending three batters back to the dugout from the plate in each inning, he needed more than a dozen tosses to do that less than a third of the time. He was masterful in his pitch placement and his control, practically toying with batters as he crushed their dreams each plate appearance. It’s a performance that will be remembered for a long time.
The number of no-hitters in postseason history, including Halladay’s 2010 no-hitter against the Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS. It was his first postseason appearance ever, and he walked only one batter to break up a potential perfect game. Opposing batters had 19 swinging strikes and 23 looking against him, out of 79 strikes. He only threw 104 pitches, so 76% of the time batters were more or less playing a losing game against his talent.
Career complete games. He’d been retired since 2013 and still leads the league in most complete games since he entered the majors in 1998. He led his league in complete games seven separate times throughout his playing career, and it’s one of the things that is most special about his career when compared to others in his era of the sport.
Seven times, Halladay finished in the top five for his league’s ERA crown. He never won one but finished second three times, third twice, and fifth twice.
Once, he went to the zoo with a fan. And it was perfect. “Zoo With Roy” was (and remains) a Philly sports blog that is based on silliness and randomness, and was named after a hypothetical event even the creator assumed was never going to happen.
But then, after Halladay retired and left the Phillies, it did happen.
I'm at the zoo with Roy Halladay?! pic.twitter.com/5453vwPKvo— Zoo With Roy (@zoowithroy) August 8, 2014
Doing something that joyful and unexpected was a different side of Roy, one that we got to see a lot more of in his retirement. It’s one of the hallmarks of his time in Philadelphia and didn’t happen anywhere close to a baseball field. Athletes making dreams come true happens all the time in a world of Make A Wish specials and surprise appearances.
Athletes making a dream this goofy, but still important, come true doesn’t happen nearly as often.
His career win-loss percentage, which ranks 19th out of all pitchers active or inactive. That’s remarkable when you factor in that he had four seasons between .364 and .533 win percentages. Wins aren’t everything for pitchers, and these days they aren’t even most things when we analyze pitchers’ seasons and careers. But when you think about how those four rough seasons dragged him down in this area and he still put up a number like that, it’s simultaneously amazing that Roy managed that and not at all surprising because it was him.
His ERA in 2000, in just his second full season in the league. Yes, you read that right. He pitched 67.2 innings, and walked 42 batters and let up 14 home runs in that time. Then he got sent to Triple-A to fix himself, and could have easily dropped off the face of the planet never to return to the show.
Yet he returned and rattled off one of the greatest decade-long stretches of all time like 2000 never even happened. An ERA like that portends doom, gloom and talk of busts. But for Halladay, it’s a crazy blip in a stellar career.
Statistics aren’t the only things that matter about Halladay’s career, far from it. He meant a lot to two cities, an entire sport, and countless fans around the country, and he will be dearly missed.