Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball and while his stats are obviously on par with any of today’s elite pitchers (170-86, 2310.1 IPs, 3.20 xFIP, 3.55 K/BB, 62.3 WAR) I think the biggest factor for Halladay’s success is his unmatched focus, determination and passion for his craft.
Halladay who will turn 34 years old in May, throws a two-seam fastball that he can sink and cut to either side of the plate, a deadly cutter that moves in to a lefty and away from a righty, a very solid overhand curveball and a budding change-up that he will throw 2-3 times per inning.
I think he is being incorrectly coded as throwing a four seam fastball but as a fan who has literally watched almost all of his starts I can honestly say I don’t see a pitch he throws that could be classified as a classic “straight” four-seam fastball. The blog title was a facetious way of saying Halladay has a simple approach but nothing this man throws is straight.
The most impressive thing about Roy Halladay (besides everything) is the fact that even the opposing hitters, managers, fans, umpires, ball boys (point made?) all know exactly what “Doc” is trying to do but for the most part cannot do anything about it.
Halladay doesn’t rely on changing speeds and he isn’t a deceptive pitcher in any sense of the word. Doc Halladay is a methodical master who pounds the same areas of the plate with the precision of a surgeon. He basically tells you what he is going to throw given his obvious game plan and pitch selection(s) and you still have a slim chance of making solid contact.
Having a look at some Pitch F/X data will illustrate exactly this point.
There you see it, he is going to be pounding the zone at will, you know (almost) what is coming but you cannot make the needed adjustments to make solid contact. One pitch (the cutter) has basically transformed him from a solid sinker ball pitcher vulnerable to a left handed hitter to the best pitcher in baseball.
I like this graph as it shows you the pitch speed, pitch type and at the bottom is the “Pitch Event ID” so basically it shows Halladay’s pitch selection and utilization inning by inning (seperated obviously when the Phils are hitting). Halladay went seven strong innings versus the New York Mets on Thursday afternoon (April 7th, 2011). This again completely illustrates the point I was trying to make, Halladay is predictable, almost to a fault and it basically means nothing to the hitter.
Roy Halladay will throw 2-3 curveballs per inning, 1-3 changeups per inning and everything else is hard (and cutting) in the 89-93 MPH range too all sides of the plate. In that sense he is tough to get a pattern on, but depending on what side of the plate you are standing you have a good idea of what he is trying to do, and are defenseless.