In his first year of eligibility Roy Halladay has been deemed worthy of the Hall of Fame, earning representation on 85.4 percent of the ballot.
Although Halladay’s early-career struggles and late-career injury troubles made him less of a stat accumulator than some of his peers, there’s no doubt he was one of the iconic aces of his era. From 2001-2011 there was quite literally no one better. Here’s a summary of the pitching categories he led the majors in during that span:
Innings Pitched: 2 (2003, 2010)
Starts: 1 (2003)
Wins: 2 (2003, 2010)
Winning Percentage: 1 (2006)
HR/9: 1 (2002)
K/BB: 4 (2003, 2008, 2009, 2011)
Complete Games: 5 (2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
Shutouts: 2 (2009, 2010)
Batters Faced: 1 (2003)
FIP: 1 (2010)
WHIP: 1 (2008)
WAR: 2 (2003, 2010)
These, along with two Cy Young awards, are just instances of him being literally the best. Countless other times he was near the very top. Halladay was an all-star eight times and earned top-five billing in Cy Young voting on seven occasions, including six straight seasons between 2006 and 2011.
The case for Halladay could have been made on statistical grounds alone, but his story goes far beyond his sterling production. His career trajectory was an unusual one as he went from top prospect throwing a near no-hitter in his second start, to a guy posting an unfathomable 10.64 ERA just two years later.
Coming into the 2001 season, he was about to turn 24 with 231 innings of 5.77 ERA ball to his name and he’d just concluded a historically poor year. That’s not exactly what you’d call the “Hall of Fame track.” Thanks to a trip to the minor leagues and a re-worked delivery, though, he never looked back.
With the exception of winning a World Series, there wasn’t much that he didn’t do. He won a Cy Young in both leagues. He threw a perfect game. He managed one of only two playoff no-hitters ever. It’s difficult to imagine what a Hall of Fame voter could find lacking in his resume, except perhaps for gaudy win totals, or a slightly longer career.
Tragically, the baseball world has been grappling with Halladay’s legacy since his death on November 17, 2017. The Blue Jays put him on their Level of Excellence, the Phillies placed him on their Wall of Fame, and his career was celebrated throughout baseball.
Tuesday’s vote represents an important next step, though. The tributes Halladay received last season were touching and well-deserved, but they centred around the moment of his death. Earning entry into the Hall of Fame is an honour that, more than anything else, is about the future.
From now on, Roy Halladay is “Roy Halladay, First-Ballot Hall of Famer.” When the era of baseball he pitched in is discussed he cannot be ignored — something that was a real risk considering he pitched the vast majority of his career for teams that were downright irrelevant. When fans visit Cooperstown, Halladay’s face will be there to greet them. Those who never watched him pitch are far more likely to learn his name.
The story of Roy Halladay was always one that future baseball fans should know. Thanks to Tuesday’s vote, there’s a better chance than ever that it’s one they will know.
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