The baseball world was struck with tragedy this week when former two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay died in a plane crash.
It’s easy to glorify people that were killed tragically as being more than they actually were. That was not the case for Roy Halladay.
Selected by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 17th overall selection in the 1995 Amateur Draft out of Arvada High School in Colorado, Halladay did not take long to reach the majors, making his major league debut in September 1998.
His first four seasons in the majors were nothing special. Appearing in 74 games (49 starts), he was 18-17 with a 4.95 ERA.
Everything changed for Halladay in 2002. Having a full-time spot in the Blue Jays rotation, he went 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA over 34 starts, leading the majors with 239.1 innings pitched. In 2003 Halladay won the first of his two Cy Young Awards, winning 22 games and leading the AL in innings pitched (266), shutouts (2) and complete games (9).
Halladay would spend six more seasons in Toronto, winning 20 games again in 2008 and finishing with an overall record of 148-76 in the American League.
In 2010 the Phillies traded for Halladay, sending three prospects to the Blue Jays. In Philadelphia, he became part of a spectacular 1-2 punch with Cole Hamels. Halladay won his second Cy Young Award in his first season with the Phillies—becoming one of six pitchers to win the award in both leagues—winning 21 games and leading the NL in shutouts (4) and complete games (9). Despite his impressive stats during the regular season, it was what he did in the postseason that really made 2010 special.
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Making his first postseason start in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park, Halladay threw just the second no-hitter in postseason history. After winning 19 games in his second season in Philadelphia, Halladay started to show signs of slowing down in 2012 when his ERA rose above 4.00 for just the third time in his career.
Halladay’s career ended in 2013, making just 13 starts and seeing his ERA balloon up to 6.82. Despite being what most thought was the missing piece in their rotation, the Phillies never reached the World Series with Halladay. In his five postseason starts with Philadelphia, Halladay went 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.74 WHIP.
When Halladay joined the Phillies, the New York Mets were one of his favorite teams to pitch against. After the 2009 season finished, the Mets became one of the teams Halladay was rumored to be traded to. However, having just acquired Johan Santana the previous offseason, the Mets didn’t have the prized prospects the Phillies did.
Whatever the reason for why they didn’t acquire him, Halladay made the Mets pay. In his first seven starts against the Mets, from 2010-11, Halladay went 7-0 with a 1.70 ERA and 0.87 WHIP.
Along with being one of six pitches to win Cy Young Awards in both leagues, Halladay is one of five pitchers in MLB history with multiple Cy Young Awards and multiple no-hitters. The other four? Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Tim Lincecum, and Max Scherzer.
While others might have been glorified wrongly in death, Halladay is certainly not one who is. His career was magnificent, finishing with 203 wins—98 more wins than losses. He is not Hall of Fame eligible until 2019, but Cooperstown should get his plaque ready now.
The world of baseball will miss you, Roy. Rest in peace.