Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Happy Boofday to You
As DJF outlined, today is Roy Halladay's birthday. Thankfully, he is older than us so we can still look up him without feeling like a weirdo. The Twins have gifted Halladay a start against Boof Bonser. We should all be so lucky.
I hope Sportsnet has decided to give him the gift of no longer running his promo bumper. I feel as though it is an insult to the mild-mannered ace. Forcing him to shill for a network that continues to employ Jamie Campbell just isn't fair. Let Litsch do another one, he seemed to be tickled pinker during his 5 second line reading.
The anniversary of the good Doctor's birth dovetails nicely into some thoughts I've been kicking around for a little while. Aside from daydreaming about a Rolen-Halladay lovechild of manliness, my thoughts have turned to Roy Halladay's ultimate legacy. Perhaps it is too early, but I'm afraid he'll never truly be appreciated for the kind of player he is. The greatest culprits of Roy Halladay's due recognition: Fantasy Gurus.
The Blue Jays are far from a small market team. One of the largest population centers in North America, a media contingent made up of 2 local papers, 2 national papers, 3 national sports networks as well as the various and sundry local TV stations/free transit rags all follow the team closely. The Jays don't get much press attention south of the border, but the same could be said of most non-YankSox teams. If you are an average baseball fan in Texas, Washington or Florida, you probably won't know too much about Roy Halladay. And why not? Because his fantasy value is relatively low.
At the start of the season Halladay was the 99th ranked player in Yahoo fantasy leagues. So far this season, he is ranked 88th overall, presumably on the back of his 4 complete games. His strikeout numbers are up slightly over the last few seasons, but still well below traditional power pitchers. While there are certainly some players I will concede are better fantasy options than Halladay, are there really 87? If you were starting a baseball team, can you think of 8 players you'd take ahead of Halladay?
A quick look at Roy Halladay's baseball reference page reveals some shocking truths. He's never lost more than 8 games in a season. He's never had a full season with an ERA under 3. The most shocking are the variety of names that appear on his most similar players list. Mark Buehrle sure, I've made that point before. Roy Oswalt? Yeah, he's a fine player. Chris Carpenter? Uh, okay. I guess numbers don't lie. Matt Morris? I think a small part of me just died. John Smiley??? Gross. Pat Hentgen?? Wow, that makes we wonder.
Baseball Reference goes on to rate Halladay's likelihood of being elected to the Hall of Fame as slim. He's about halfway to a number of Bill James' creation that equates to Hall of Fame credentials. I can see Halladay continuing to be effective even as he ages and loses some zip on his fastball. His injuries have been of a freakish nature but even if he remained healthy for the remainder of his career he would likely fall well short of Big Important Numbers such as 300 or even 250 wins.
It is a shame that these landmarks and milestones are often how a player is measured once his playing days are done. He has his Cy Young, and would likely have another were it not for now-teammate Kevin Mench. He doesn't even have Dave Stieb's constant flirtation with/eventual raw-dogging of a no-hitter. But these aren't the ways I'll remember Roy Halladay. His focus on being efficient and pitching to contact is a pleasure to watch and a credit to his position. Too many gunslinging strikeout artists fall by the wayside early, their preening and bad habits sideline their career before it begins. Halladay's mechanics and attention to efficiency should keep him going for quite a while yet.
All Blue Jays fans will remember Roy Halladay long after he's hung them up, but my original point was about fans and media in other cities. More knowledgeable fans of AL East rivals know and hate Halladay for his ability to handcuff and beat down their teams. Yankee fans probably don't know much about Roy Halladay because they generally know jack shit. They tend to observe a Yankee loss as an act of god, not a product of quality opponents. But do Angels fans acknowledge and respect the unique approach that Halladay took to turn his career around? Would the BBWAA recognize this? Is the world we live in so upside-down that the only man to start his team with Roy Halladay as his pitcher is the one regarded as the worst president in the history of the United States???
The only thing I know for sure is that Roy Halladay is the pitcher who's work I've most enjoyed. His quick working style coupled with his fiery yet reserved demeanor make him a model ballplayer. Despite the humourless approach he brings to his own work, another enjoyable Halladay trait is his ability to yuck it up with the lads and appreciate his teammates performance. It humanizes him and endears him to us more. That and his similarity to the Man With No Name. But maybe that's just me.