Polo Grounds

Polo Grounds

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Roy Halladay and the Hall of Fame

Most of my blogs regarding HOF candidacies have been about hitters, and for good reason: They are easier, in my opinion, to make a case for/against enshrinement. I find it easier to compare hitters to each other, and to look at certain HOF caliber stats (hits, home runs, WAR, etc.) and make an informed decision. Pitchers for me are harder to determine. 3000 K's and 300 wins have long been the gold standard, but with 300 wins becoming more and more rare, and 3000 K's becoming a bit easier (and with some starters not being strikeout pitchers) the ability to judge a pitcher as hall worthy is much harder. However, the subject of today's blog, Roy Halladay, is one I have wanted to write about for a while. Halladay was truly dominant for a very long period of time, and his resume certainly makes an interesting case for potential HOF induction. Let's take a closer look below:

For Roy Halladay and the Hall of Fame:

Roy Halladay's ten year reign of dominance between 2002-2011 is unheralded as one of the best modern stretches by a Starting Pitcher in history. During this stretch Halladay started 303 games (about 30 per year), compiled a 170-75 record, a 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 1699 K's, 63 CG, 18 Shutouts, a 148 ERA+ and a 4.57 K/BB ratio. During this stretch Halladay ranked:

1st in Wins
1st in complete games (second place had 33, 30 less than Halladay)
1st in shutouts (6 more than second place)
1st in WAR
2nd in K/BB ratio (behind Schilling, who had half the number of games started in that window)
T-2nd in ERA (behind J. Santana and tied with A. Wainwright, in half the starts)
2nd in ERA+ (J. Santana)
3rd in WHIP (behind J. Santana and P. Martinez)
4th in K's

Halladay had a great run of dominance, but his career numbers stand alone as well. Halladay was an eight time all-star, a two time Cy Young winner, and finished his career in the top 100 in K/BB ratio (23rd), ERA+ (38th), WAR for pitchers (41st) and Strikeouts (66th). He led the league in complete games seven(!) times, and shutouts 4 times. In an era where pitchers didn't throw a lot of complete games, Halladay dominated late into games, which also led to him leading the league in innings pitched four times.

Halladay is 9th all-time in Cy Young Award shares, which gives you points for where you placed in Cy Young voting throughout your career. He is only behind Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Pedro Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, Tom Seaver and Jim Palmer. Pretty good company to be in.

The five scores baseball-reference uses to compare players to HOF players are black ink, gray ink, HOF Monitor, HOF Standards, and JAWS. Here's a pic of where Halladay compares to other HOF pitchers:

So as you can see, Halladay ranks right around the average Hall of Fame pitcher. He's slightly higher in Black Ink and HOF Monitor, and slightly lower in Gray Ink and HOF Standards. His career WAR and JAWS score are slightly below, but his 7-year peak WAR is higher. The dude screams "average Hall of Famer" which may sound insulting, but does include the phrase "Hall of Famer," so he's got that going for him.

There is no hard and fast rule regarding Postseason performance being a metric used to evaluate a players worth in the Hall of Fame, but for fringe candidates, any memorable or iconic playoff performances will certainly help (although Curt Schilling and his bloody sock may disagree). Halladay has one of the most memorable postseason performances of the last decade, his no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, only the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history, along with Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. When voters think back on Halladay's career, they will undoubtedly remember that moment, and for many it may be the difference between him getting their vote or not.

Against Roy Halladay and the Hall of Fame:

The above mentioned ten year peak for Halladay is incredible, but the other six years that he spent in the big leagues (1998-2001 and 2012-2013) were not very good. Halladay broke out in 2002 at age 25 with a 19-7 record and a 2.93 ERA in a league leading 239 innings. However, the four seasons before that, Halladay had trouble finding the strike zone and hadn't established himself as a big league starting pitcher. From 1998-2001, Halladay went 18-17 with a 4.95 ERA, a 1.54 WHIP and a 97 ERA+ in 78 games, only 49 as a starter. He eventually corrected the control issue, as he led the league in fewest BB/9 three consecutive years from 2009-2011.

As quickly as Halladay rose to prominence in the MLB, his descent was even sharper. Halladay finished 2011 with a 19-6 record, a 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and a blistering 163 ERA+. However, his 2012 looked quite a bit different, as he made 25 starts and finished with an 11-8 record, a 4.49 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and a 90 ERA+. 13 terrible starts in 2013 (6.82 ERA and 55 ERA+) and Halladay was done, out of the league at age 36, only 2 years removed from a 2nd place finish in Cy Young voting. Injuries played a massive role in Halladay's decline, but his control declined sharply as well. Halladay walked 35 hitters over 233 innings in 2011 (league leading 1.3 BB/9), but walked 36 in 156 innings in 2012 (2.1 BB/9) and 36 again in 2013, over only 62 innings (5.2 BB/9). It is hard to say whether injuries played a part in Halladay's sudden loss of control, but the impact it had was substantial.

Halladay's closest statistical comparison, according to baseball-reference, is Dwight Gooden (also nicknamed Doc) a great pitcher who flamed out quickly and never made the Hall of Fame. You could argue the same fate awaits Halladay, although his reign of dominance was much longer than Gooden's, although not quite as good. 

Personally, Halladay reminds me a lot of former Yankees great Ron Guidry, a pitcher who had three great seasons, 4-5 very good seasons, and a few mediocre/bad seasons. Neither of them had exceptionally long careers (16 years for Halladay and 14 for Guidry) and both of them truly dominated for a few years, but ended up with career stats that fall short of "traditional" Hall of Fame numbers (203 wins for Halladay and 170 for Guidry, 2117 K's for Halladay and 1778 for Guidry). I have no doubt that Halladay, over the course of his career, was a better pitcher than Guidry, and the stats back that up (Halladay had more wins, K's, a better WHIP, K/9, K/BB and ERA+, Guidry had a lower ERA and more CG, in a different era). However, Guidry lasted nine years on the ballot, never receiving more than 9% of the vote before falling off in 2002 with only 4.9%. Halladay may have been better than Guidry, but better enough to earn 75% of the vote?


I think Roy Halladay deserves to be a Hall of Famer, but man he is really close. I don't think that he is a better pitcher than Mike Mussina or Curt Schilling, who are both on the ballot still waiting to get in, but I think he is slightly better than HOF snubs David Cone and Kevin Brown (and the above mentioned Ron Guidry). Halladay was the best pitcher in baseball for ten seasons, and even though the rest of his career was rather pedestrian, it is hard to ignore what he did from 2002-2011. Toss in a playoff no hitter, and a regular season perfect game, and you got yourselves someone who I think deserves to be in Cooperstown.


I'm not sure why I still even make these, as the HOF voting has been very difficult to predict lately. Mussina and Schilling have not gotten the support necessary to gain induction, although it is possible both will be in by the time Halladay hits the ballot in 2018. I think Kevin Brown was about as good of a pitcher as Halladay was, and he only received 2.1% of the vote in 2011. Guidry is another decent comp, and he didn't even get over 10%. However, Halladay has a legacy with his no-hitter, and I think will garner more attention than those two. Will he get enough to get enshrined? Not based on how they have been voting lately, but I bet he hangs around on the ballot and maybe eventually gets enough of a boost to hear his name called. I wouldn't bank on it happening for at least 5-6 years on the ballot though. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Assessing my 2016 Predictions

So on March 30, 2016 I posted a blog (which can be found here) making 15 predictions for the upcoming 2016 season. With that season now in the books, let us take a look at those predictions and the ones I got right (yay Cubs!), and more importantly the ones I didn't get right (booo Byron Buxton).

1. Miguel Cabrera finishes the season with .330/30/100. (not quite, 0/1)

I knew at the beginning of the season that this was an ambitious goal. Basically, Miggy would have to play a full season to reach the 30/100 mark, and playing a full season while hitting over .330 is a challenge. Miggy hadn't gone .330/30/100 since 2013, but he came pretty close this season, blasting 38 home runs and driving in 108, while managing a still very good .316 batting average. Great season, but didn't quite meet the lofty prediction I made for him.

2. Byron Buxton plays a full season, shows why he is a top prospect. (nope, 0/2)

On April 24, Byron Buxton went 1/5 with 4 K's, bringing his slash line on the season to .159/.208/.289 with 0 HR, 2 RBI's and 24 K's in 45 at-bats. Buxton, understandably, was sent down to AAA at this point, where he remained for about a month until he returned on 5/31. From 5/31 until 8/5, Buxton hit .204/.257/.322 with 1 HR and 56 K's in 46 games, slightly better than his early season woes, but still less than ideal. Buxton went down to AAA again, and came up when rosters expanded in September. From 9/1 until the end of the season, however, Buxton hit .287/.357/.653(!) with 9 home runs and 38 K's in 29 games. My prediction was obviously wrong, as a "full season" was not met and his .225/.284/.430 slash line certainly isn't good, but his late season push gives some hope that the former top prospect isn't going to be a complete flame out.

3. Jonathan Schoop finishes with 25+ home runs. (yay! 1/3)

I predicted that Schoop's 16 home runs in a half season in 2015 would translate into an increased power stroke this year, and hitting toward the bottom of a loaded Orioles line-up would help him get some fastballs to hit over the wall and lo and behold, that's what happened. He barely made it, hitting exactly 25 home runs, but look for the young second basemen to continue to develop his power stroke in the future.

4. Marcus Stroman is the 2016 AL Cy Young winner. (yikes. 1/4)

Yikes.Stroman looked primed to build off of a strong postseason last year, and I felt his first full season would lead to close to 20 wins and nearly 200 strikeouts. Instead, Stroman struggled mightily against the power heavy AL east, having many of his starts against the loaded Red Sox and Orioles offenses. While he managed to pitch a full season (32 starts) he only managed a 9-10 record, a 4.37 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 166/54 K/bb ratio. Not exactly Cy Young numbers from the young righty. 7 of his 32 starts were against either the Red Sox or the Orioles, yet 36 of his 104 total runs were surrendered in those games. One positive if you are a Blue Jays fan is that Stroman had a 4.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 6.4 K/9 in the first half of the season, but managed a 3.68 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 in the second half, leading me to believe that he can build off of that and look more like the pitcher he was in the 2015 play-offs next season. 2017 Cy Young seems like a stretch, but maybe I'm just a year off.

5. Nick Castellanos finally breaks out, becomes big piece for Tigers. (yay! 2/5)

I'm going to give myself a point on this one, even though looking at his full season stats from last season to this season don't look dramatically different.
In 2015 Castellanos slashed .255/.303/.419 with 15 home runs, 73 RBI's and a 0.5 WAR in 154 games.
In 2016, Castellanos slashed .285/.331/.496 with 18 home runs, 58 RBI's and a 1.6 WAR in 110 games.
So while the home runs only increased slightly and the RBI's went down, Castellanos did manage to improve his WAR by 1.1 while playing in 44 less games, and improved his batting average 30 points, his OBP 28 points and his slugging percentage 57 points.(!) Digging more into the data, Castellanos' first half of the 2016 season looked like this:

85 games, 354 PA, 17 HR, 51 RBI's, .302/.342/.534

A wrist injury derailed Castellanos' second half, which kept his season numbers down. However, Castellanos was on pace for a 30 home run, 100 RBI season with over a .300 batting average. It's hard to say whether he would have achieved that (he only hit .217 in the 93 PA's he had in the 2nd half) but it's clear that a full season from a healthy Castellanos would have been a big step up from his 2015 numbers. If he manages to be healthy next year, I would expect to see something like .280/.340/.480 with 25 home runs and 85 RBI's. He will never be an elite fielder at 3B, but those offensive numbers paired with at least average defense should merit a 2.5 WAR.

6. Didi Gregorius hits more home runs that Alex Rodriguez. (Wow! 3/6)

""I have to have one ridiculously, comically bold prediction each year, mainly for the one time I get it right and can tell everyone I called it."" - my words when this blog was posted 3/30/16.

Hooray! I can finally say I called it. I predicted Didi's flyball % would increase which would lead to an increase # of HR, and without many internal candidates to replace him at SS, that he would get a lot of at-bats. With 597 plate appearances this year, Didi was able to launch 20 home runs on a 40.3 FB%, up from his 34% the year prior. I also predicted that A-Rod would end up losing playing time to Tex and Beltran at DH. As we all know A-Rod really limped to the finish line this year, hitting only 9 home runs in 65 games, falling 4 short of 700 for his career. His season was cut short by the Yankees who announced he would be getting cut during the season, letting him play out one more game before cutting him loose. It was a sad ending for a brilliant, but very tainted career for A-Rod. 

7. Ichiro falls just short of 3,000 hits. (nope (hooray!) 3/7)

Super glad I got this one wrong. My prediction was basically that Ichiro would hit somewhere around .260 with 200 or so at-bats, which would leave him 10-15 hits short of 3000. However, Ichiro was given 327 at-bats in 143 games, and hit .291, his best batting average since 2010. This led to 95 hits on the season, including his 3000th on August 7th. What a ride for Ichiro it has been, here's to hoping he sticks around for another year or two.

8.  Adam Laroche plays in the MLB this season. (nope, 3/8)

Back in March Adam Laroche abruptly left the White Sox organization, due to disagreements with management's insistence that he not parade his 14 year old son, Drake Laroche, around the clubhouse as much. This caused a lot of controversy, as many players felt that the GM's rules were too strict and Laroche should be allowed to hang out with his son, while others felt that bringing your son to work every single day is unnecessary (word also came out that Drake was rarely attending school, instead spending time with his dad). Anyway, at the time it seemed likely that once this blew over Laroche would catch on as a DH or left handed bench bat for a contending team, but he seemed pretty content to not return to the game, and appears to have full on retired with 255 career home runs over his 12 year career.

9. Zack Greinke is not the best SP on the Diamondbacks. (nope, 3/9)

This was basically a two part prediction that I only really got half correct. I said that Greinke would struggle with the pressure of his new contract and would not pitch nearly as well as he did in LA. His 4.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 101 ERA+ confirmed that - however I also expected that one of Patrick Corbin or Shelby Miller would step up and out pitch Greinke over the course of the season. That part did not come true, as both Corbin (5.15 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 85 ERA+) and Miller (6.15 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 71 ERA+) faltered this season, which along with Greinke's pedestrian season helped lead the once promising Diamondbacks to a 69-93 record and another missed playoff berth. However, Greinke statistically still looked to be the best SP on the Diamondbacks this season, making my prediction, while half-true, technically false. Bummer.

10. Carlos Rodon finishes with 200+ strikeouts. (nope, 3/10)

This prediction was based off of the fact that Rodon is capable of holding a 9.0 K/9 for a full season, so a 200 inning season would net 200 K's. However, a brief spell on the DL meant that Rodon only threw 165 innings. He did, however, strike out 168 hitters for a 9.2 K/9. Had he been able to make 32 or 33 starts, he may have had a chance. I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a few seasons over 200 K's when all is said and done.

11. Kyle Schwarber hits 40 home runs. (so close, 3/11)

I was only 40 off. An April 7th collision in the outfield cut Schwarber's season dramatically short, but the young slugger made his triumphant return in the World Series, showing the promising bat that caused many (including myself) to predict a power breakout. Here's to hoping he comes back 100% next year and makes this prediction come true, a year late.

12. AL Play-off teams: Astros, Tigers, Blue Jays. Rangers and Royals in the Wild Card.
(2/5. 5/16)

I anticipated that the Indians and Red Sox were not quite ready to make the jump into the postseason, and clearly I was wrong. The Indians surprised everyone by actually having an offense, with Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana each blasting over 30 home runs and rookie Tyler Naquin providing some oomph as well. Meanwhile the Red Sox made rebuilding look real easy, as their young core, led by Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley jr and Xander Bogaerts, mashed all season and pushed them into the play-offs. The Astros and the Tigers faded down the stretch, and injuries bit the Royals pretty hard, leaving only the Blue Jays (who actually won the wildcard) and the Rangers (who actually won the division) as my only correct choices. Better luck next year. 

13. NL Play-off teams: Giants, Cubs, Mets. Nationals and Dodgers in the Wild Card. (5/5, 10/21)

Not bad huh? So I'm giving myself credit for getting all five teams right, but in actuality the Giants and Mets played for the wildcard while the Nationals and Dodgers each won their respective divisions. Semantics right?

14. Blue Jays and Cubs play for the World Series. (1/2, 11/22)

Damn. The ALCS came down to the Indians and the Blue Jays, but strong pitching from the rotation and an MVP type performance from Andrew Miller helped the Indians advance and crushed my dreams of predicting the World Series correctly way back in March. Still, I feel good about my two World Series teams being in the championship series, and getting 1/2 ain't bad.

15. I'm gonna do it. I'm going to make this prediction. Cubs win. (12/23)

Boom. 108 years of misery finally washed away by a victory in what will go down as one of, if not the best, game seven in baseball history.

Bonus 16th prediction: Will Ferrell dresses as Harry Caray and yells "Cubs win! Cubs win!" and it becomes an internet sensation.

Haven't seen this yet, but the memes of "happy Bill Murray" and the Budweiser commercial (featuring Harry Caray) that aired right after Game 7 basically count, right?