This week was a sad one in the sports world. The news of the Roy Halladay’s death hit me and baseball fans everywhere very, very hard.
In every sense of the word, the man they called “Doc” was a legend. He was a workhorse with incredible command and remarkable mental toughness. For much of the first decade of the 21st century, he was the best pitcher in the game.
There is no question of the excellence of his baseball resume. The eight-time all-star amassed a record of 203-105 for a winning percentage of .659. He had a career 3.38 ERA with 2,117 strikeouts. From 2001-2011—his most dominant period—he pitched 64 complete games, 30 more than any other pitcher. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement, which measures a player’s total contribution to his team) remains the highest of any pitcher since 2000, even though he hasn’t pitched in four years.
He won the Cy Young Award in both the American League and the National League, one of only six pitchers in history to do so. In one calendar year, he threw the 20th perfect game in history and the second ever postseason no-hitter in his first career playoff start. These accomplishments take a great player and make him legendary. Only two other players have two Cy Youngs, a perfect game and another no-hitter: Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson. Halladay is in good company.
All of these stats put him slightly under the current benchmarks for Hall of Fame pitchers, but I truly believe Halladay will get in when he is first up for election in 2019. He played in an era that was a major transition between two different styles of pitching, and he will be in the vanguard by which a new generation of pitchers will be enshrined.
I’m not a Phillies fan, but I grew up in prime Phillies territory. Halladay was one of the most exciting pitchers to watch because you knew that every start had the chance to be a complete game or at least an exhibition of superior pitching ability.
We as fans could see the greatness in his pitching dominance and the intensity in which he played the game. What we couldn’t see during the game was how well-respected he was by teammates and opponents alike. He was a role model to many, epitomizing excellence both on and off the field. Halladay led by example, and his unparalleled work ethic, quiet confidence and resilience when battling adversity made him the player that other pitchers aspired to be.
After the news of his death, player after player after player spoke about the impact that Halladay had on them and their career. Dodger’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy perhaps said it best: “Roy Halladay was your favorite player’s favorite player.”
Roy Halladay’s contribution to the game can be seen not just in the the stats he put up, but in the players he inspired. That is his ultimate legacy in this sport.
Rest in peace, Doc. You will certainly be missed.