Roy Halladay Retires
It was announced today that Roy Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Blue Jays and then immediately retired, ending his 16-year major league career. He was reportedly facing another back surgery, and he says he wants to spend more time with his family.
The abrupt end of Halladay’s career is more evidence that pitchers who go on the disabled list for a shoulder injury after the age of 35 don’t have much longer to go. It’s also another cautionary tale about overworking your No. 1 starter.
Halladay had far and away the highest total of complete games pitched (67) of any active pitcher immediately prior to his retirement. The only other active pitchers with as many as 30 career complete games are CC Sabathia (37), Bartolo Colon (35) and Chris Carpenter (33).
Sabathia’s 2013 season at 32 suggests he’s on the verge of a major performance drop-off after years of heavy workloads. Bartolo Colon’s arm basically fell off after the season in which he was 32, and he only came back as a result of experimental therapies (maybe) and PED use (definitely). Chris Carpenter has been very much like Halladay only more so, a terrific pitcher who was overworked when he was healthy and then subsequently (but more quickly) broke down.
After Halladay’s first bout of arm problems in 2004-2005 following two seasons of very heavy workloads, Halladay was able to throw 220+ innings six seasons in a row, peaking at 246 IP in 2008 and 250.2 IP in 2010. It was certainly an impressive run, but Halladay’s break-down in 2012 and 2013 was more or less total.
I’m certainly disappointed, because as recently as the end of the 2012 season, when his injury that season was claimed to be a latissimus dorsi (back muscle) strain, I thought he still had a good chance to win 300 games before he retired. Instead, he won only four more games and fell 97 career wins short of 300, which isn’t even close.
Even so, Halladay should have no problem eventually being elected to the Hall of Fame. He’ll be remembered for his peak performance when he was generally regarded as the best pitcher in baseball, and his career record doesn’t look all that different from Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Stan Coveleski, Chief Bender and Bob Lemon, particularly when you take into account how much harder it is for starters today to accumulate wins.
In fact, Halladay’s career won-loss record is considerably more impressive than a number of Hall of Famers, for example, Don Drysdale and Hal Newhauser, who had similar win totals but lost far more games in their careers. The main drawback to Halladay’s relatively low career wins total is that it may prevent him from being elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.