After 16 seasons, Roy Halladay has called it a career. Halladay announced his retirement during MLB’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida. He spent 12 of those 16 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays before joining the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. On Monday, Halladay signed a one day contract with Toronto so he could officially retire as a Blue Jay.
Halladay was a first round draft pick by the Jays in 1995. He would make his major league debut late in the 1998 season. In his second big league start, Halladay came within one out of throwing a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers before Bobby Higginson took him deep.
By 2000, however, Halladay was going in the wrong direction. That season he went 4-7 with an astronomical 10.64 ERA. In 2001, Halladay was sent all the way down to Class-A Dunedin to learn how to pitch all over again under the tutelage of the late Mel Queen.
Well, Queen turned Halladay into one of the Kings of pitching. He would win 19 games in 2002 and then won 22 games in 2003 en route to first of two Cy Young Awards. Halladay won his second Cy Young in 2010 in Philadelphia. That year Halladay became the first pitcher to throw two no-hitters in the same year since Nolan Ryan in 1973. He threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins and then became only the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter in post-season history when he overwhelmed the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS. Don Larsen, of course, tossed a perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series.
Unfortunately, Halladay has been plagued by injuries in his pitching shoulder over the past two seasons and missed most of 2013 due to shoulder surgery. He has also been dealing with a back ailment that would likely require surgery. Halladay no doubt came to the conclusion that he could no longer pitch at a premium level, wanted to stay a healthy man for his family and chose to walk away from the game.
I find it interesting that Halladay’s retirement comes only weeks after that of his close friend and former Blue Jays teammate and fellow Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter. Perhaps they will travel the world saving people from deadly anacondas. Well, they don’t call him Doc Halladay for nothing.
Consider Halladay’s overall career numbers. His won-loss record of 203-105 was good enough for a lifetime winning percentage of .659. Halladay led his league in complete games seven times. Granted he never completed more than 9 games in any one season, but in this age of relief specialists no one will ever match his numbers. Halladay led his league in shutouts four times and innings pitched four times. He was also named to eight All-Star teams.
Halladay will be eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. I don’t think he’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer (although it could depend who is on the ballot with him). If Halladay had managed to stay healthy the last couple of years and managed to pitch until he was 40, he would probably stand a better chance. On the other hand, I don’t think he’ll stay on the ballot for 15 years like Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris. It’s important to remember that Halladay pitched a good chunk of his career during the so-called Steroids Era when ERAs were very high. Outside of Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, I don’t think any pitcher during the 2000s commanded more respect by big league hitters than Roy Halladay.