Tagged: Central

Halladay Dominates…also, Sun Rises in East

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On Thursday night Roy Halladay scattered eight hits, walked
none, and gave up only one run against the Twins to move to 3-0 on the year and
8-0 against the Twins in his career.  The
Twins shouldn’t feel bad, though, because Halladay has been treating just about
every team he faces the same way since he came to the big leagues in 1998.  Halladay is always considered a front runner
for the Cy Young Award each spring, and he’s lived up to those expectations
almost without fail in his ten full seasons, but it seems like he so automatic
and so consistent that many are missing out on just what an incredible player
he has become. 

 

I don’t mean for this to be a copy of my Joe Mauer post,
with only the names and stats changed.  But
this is another case where a historically dominant player seems to fly
partially under the radar because he pitches in Canada
and every night he goes eight and gives up one, well that’s what he’s supposed
to do.  In the AL East it’s hard to get
love after the Red Sox with Beckett and Daisuke and the Yankees with CC and
A.J., before them Wang, and once upon a time Clemens and Pettitte.

 

The fact is that Roy Halladay can put up a case that he’s as
good as or better than any of those guys. 
He receives his fair share of respect, including the 2003 AL Cy Young,
but he doesn’t seem to garner the same mania that other dominant pitchers of
this decade have.  He simply does his
work, dominates every fifth day, and then gets ready to do it again.

 

Since 2000, when he went through growing pains as a 23 year-old
phenom, he has averaged just under 15 wins and 197 IP each year.  He’s a workhorse who fights to stay in games
and has posted seasons of seven CG and of nine CG twice.  In an era of “quality starts” and the
setup/closer philosophy those numbers are incredible. 

In May of 2007 Roy turned 30 years old,
typically a turning point in a starting pitcher’s career.  Many guys must find new ways to compete as
they get older and start to lose some of their stamina and MPH.  In 2007-2008 Roy compiled a stat line of 64
starts, 36-18, 471.1 IP, 3.23 ERA, 345 K, and 87 BB (that’s 4K/BB).  This year, as he’s about to turn 32, he’s off
to a 3-0 start with 3.00 ERA, 7 IP per start, and 17 K to only 3 BB. 

 

The guy isn’t about to start fading, and when he does begin
to lose the ability to go deep into games (if he allows his manager to take him
out), I wouldn’t expect to see his numbers slip.  He’s as smart a pitcher as there is in the
game and his repertoire isn’t based solely on the ability to overpower guys.  Though he’s capable of blowing some doors
off, the guy can pitch more than just throw. 
He has a nasty cutter and sinker that allow him to keep the ball on the
ground and in the park.

 

After last night’s dominating performance he has exactly 200
career decisions and a nifty record of 134-66. That’s a .670 winning percentage
and obviously the guy isn’t slowing down at all.  In fact, from 2004-2008 his win totals are 8,
12, 16, 16, and 20.  He’s becoming a
better pitcher and winning more, even though the Blue Jays have averaged only 81.4
wins in his ten years.  The team is
essentially a .500 club, yet he wins two out of every three starts. 

 

If he can get to 15 wins this year (he could have 5 before
April ends) and can average that over an additional five years, followed by 10
a year until he’s 40 he will be at 251 career wins.  That puts him in the neighborhood of Bob
Gibson (251) and Jack Morris (254).  A
few more seasons of 18-20 wins and he’ll approach 270.  If he keeps his win percentage where it
currently sits he is among the ranks of Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Lefty
Grove, with only Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana as contemporaries in the same
group.

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Roy is
appreciated and respected because of his toughness, reliability, and
willingness to take the ball and not let it go until the job is done.  That reliability, however, has led to a bit
of a ho-hum nature about his dominance. 
CC Sabathia was beatified for “putting his career on the line” when he
went deep into games start after start last September, willing the Brewers into
the playoffs.  Such a Herculean effort
must be unmatched in modern day baseball, right?  Let’s see.

 

2008

Starts

CG

IP

IP per start

W-L

ERA

CC (Cle/Mil)

35

10

253

≈7.1

17-10

2.70

Halladay

33

9

246

≈7.2

20-11

2.78

 

Halladay did finish second in Cy Young voting, thanks to a
stellar year from Cliff Lee.  His team
also wasn’t in a playoff race, which perhaps speaks more about Halladay’s
willingness to do his job even when there’s nothing on the line.  He wasn’t pitching for a $160M paycheck, or to
get his team into the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.  He was simply pitching because that’s his
job.  He does it as well as anyone on the
planet and he takes great pride in his ability to shoulder the load and as my
Dad says, “carry the mail” for his team. 
I hope he remains durable enough to compile enough wins so that he’ll be
the no-brainer Hall of Famer that he should be, but also so that we get more
chances to watch such an incredible craftsman work on the mound.

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Shocking Development…Joe Mauer is important to the Twins

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Saying that Joe Mauer is an important part of the Twins both
offensively and defensively and that his injury will have a dramatic affect on
their season is perhaps the easiest and most obvious statement to make going
into the 2009 season.  He’s won two batting titles (2006 and 2008) in just
four full seasons, something no American League catcher had ever done before
even once and yet he only finished only 6th and 4th, respectively, in MVP
voting in those years. 

The year he won his first batting title, the first in history by an AL catcher, his own
teammate Justin Morneau won the award.  He was widely considered the
second best player on his own team even though he accomplished a feat no other
AL catcher in history had and HE WAS ONLY 23 YEARS OLD AND IN HIS SECOND FULL
SEASON!

Even casual fans recognize his name and perhaps the trademark sideburns, but it
still seems he’s somehow underappreciated despite the fact that he’s one of the
most gifted natural hitters to ever play the game, let alone the catcher
position.  Perhaps his lack of home run totals is what keeps him off the
front page.  That is the only offensive statistical category in which he
ranks outside the Top 5 catchers and he is in the Top 3 in 10 of 12 categories
for 2005-2008.

Rank among catchers with at least 800 AB from
2005-2008

Games: 4th behind A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Varitek, and Yadier Molina (2nd
in innings played)
Runs: 1st with 41 more than 2nd place
Doubles: 3rd behind Brian McCann and Victor Martinez
Triples: 2nd behind Ivan Rodriguez
HR: 16th
RBI: 3rd behind McCann and Martinez
Total Bases: 2nd behind Martinez
Walks: 1st with 50 more than 2nd place (over that period he has 281 BB
with only 219 K)
SB: 2nd behind Russell Martin (but Mauer’s success rate is 83% while Russell’s
is 71%)
OBP: 1st (.401)
SLG: 5th (.451)
AVG: 1st (.318)

Even though he lacks home run power, he still produces runs, reaches base, and
slugs at an elite level.  Add to this the fact that he’s a solid defensive
catcher who handles one of the best young staffs in baseball and it’s clear
that not only is he irreplaceable on the Twins, but he would be vital to any
team in baseball.  We’ll find out just how valuable he is on the open
market when he becomes a free agent after 2010, but it’s apparent now that he
is one of the elite catchers in baseball today and could become one of the
greats all time.

His mysterious injury continues to heal slowly and it appears he’ll miss at
least several more weeks as he rehabs, but if he can continue to play at his
customary level when he returns it will become more obvious just what a
superstar he is.  His quiet demeanor and the fact that he plays for the
Twins don’t help his Q rating, but that calm confidence leads to success in key
moments and the ability to stay even keeled over a long season.  Maybe if Boston, LA, or a New York team is able to buy him away from Minnesota he’ll receive
the attention he deserves, but until then he’ll continue to play and hit nearly
everyday. 

Fans and media need to focus even more on this incredibly talented young star
as he could one day be among the greatest backstops ever to play the game and
it would be a shame if continued to be considered only great, rather than
historically phenomenal as he has proven so far.

So in eight days, when Joe turns only 26, remember that he still has eight or
maybe ten years of prime production left in what could one day be called the
greatest catching career ever seen.  The Twins and their fans aren’t the
only ones missing out while he’s hurt.  Any fan of the game and especially
of its storied history is missing another chance to watch a true prodigy play
the game with talent and grit and character the way it should be played and at
a level that few players have ever played.