At one time, Roy Halladay was one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. In 2003 and 2010, Halladay won the top pitching accolade with Cy Young Award, while being in the conversation for the same award in 5 other seasons. Over his 16 year career, pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, he pitched over 2700 innings with a 3.38 career ERA, 203 wins with a solid 3.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While Halladay never had particularly high strikeout rates (only 6.9 strikeouts per 9 innings in his career), he was exceptional at getting ground balls (54% career) and induced plenty of weak contact.
Halladay compiled 65.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) according to Baseball-Reference, which exceeds the total of Hall-of-Fame pitchers Bob Feller, Juan Marichal, and Hal Newhouser. Famed baseball analytics website FanGraphs offers an even higher total 67.6 WAR, which is based on his career 3.39 FIP, an alternative pitching metric. This goes to show that both the traditional ERA and sabermetric FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) metrics both agree Halladay was an exceptional pitcher over his career.
After an underwhelming 2012 season, in which he was still worth 2.5 WAR according to FanGraphs, Halladay threw his last Major League pitch in 2013. His 2013 season was pretty disastrous, compiling a -0.8 WAR, essentially costing his Phillies a win worth of value overall. This was despite projection systems, such as Steamer, still seeing Halladay being able to pitch 25 starts at a 3.90 ERA level, compiling about 2.2 WAR. In early 2014, he decided to hang them up, signing a one-day contract with the Blue Jays to officially retire with Toronto. Despite the lousy ending to his playing career, most analysts and fans agreed that Roy Halladay had put together a career worthy of a Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown, New York
Tragically, however, in 2017 Roy Halladay was killed in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico while piloting his own private plane. Even more tragically, it was found during Roy’s autopsy that he had died with several suspicious drugs in his system. Whatever led to his drug induced demise, it was a very untimely death for the 40 year old. Halladay left behind a family and a good position as a mental coach for the Blue Jays’ young pitchers.
Roy became eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. Without any surprise, he was elected posthumously on his first ever ballot. Perhaps a good part of his Hall of Fame induction support was out of respect for his untimely passing. In any case, though, Roy Halladay belongs in the Hall of Fame for his great achievements at baseball’s highest level.
Thanks for the memories, Roy. May you rest in peace.