PN Writers Roundtable: Roy Halladay

Question: If the season ended right now, would Roy Halladay get your vote for the NL Cy Young award?

Mike Baumann: Probably not, but I don’t think this question really has a wrong answer. Halladay’s having a truly remarkable season by any measure: leading the league in innings pitched, complete games, shutouts, lowest BB/9, and K/9 ratio (in which he’s due to set a career high at age 33). Plus a perfect game.

His main competition comes from Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez, who was absurdly dominant (in the truest sense of the word) before the break, and will probably win 20 games with an ERA in the high twos without breaking a sweat. There’s the defending champ, Tim Lincecum and his teammate Matt Cain, who’s quietly been even better. Then there’s Adam Wainwright, my pick for last year’s Cy Young, who has been a poor man’s Halladay in St. Louis, pitching a phenomenal volume of high-quality innings. You could go with Halladay or any one of these men and have a solid argument.

But my vote goes to Florida’s Josh Johnson. The reason is this: when judging pitchers, you have to balance quality vs. quantity. Johnson has the best ERA and park-adjusted ERA in baseball, along with more strikeouts per inning than Halladay and a WHIP so close it makes no difference. He’s been better than Halladay, but not for as many innings (178 for Halladay, 147 for Johnson). Has he been enough better to sway me? For now, yes. But it’s in the margin where one start could change the argument. If you say Halladay’s innings edge beats Johnson’s lower ERA and higher K/9, I wouldn’t be inclined to argue.

Right, now, my ballot would look like this: 1) Johnson 2) Halladay 3) Wainwright (who’s been 95% as good as Halladay in 95% as many innings). But this race bears watching going forward.

Nick Staskin: For weeks I was giving my “vote” on this ballot to Josh Johnson. I haven’t believed in Ubald-o-verrated all season and he is slowly coming back down to Earth. From his glorified shutout of a no-hitter, when he walked six men to his 3.7 BB/9 ratio going into his start on Wednesday night, I really don’t think anything other than his league leading 17 wins puts him in the class of Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright.

While I believe Charlie Manuel leaves Halladay out there longer than necessary in many games, the innings that he eats and keeps the bullpen out of games can’t go unnoticed. Doc will probably finish the season just shy of 300 innings, while if he’s lucky Josh Johnson will probably max out at around 225 innings pitched. A month ago, before observing everything put in front of me, my ballot would have looked like this: 1. Josh Johnson 2. Roy Halladay 3. Adam Wainwright 4. Mat Latos 5. Ubaldo Jiminez. Right now, Halladay has surpassed all of them and by the end of the year, I expect it to be a two-horse race between the guys who have been there before, Doc and Wainwright.

Corey Seidman: The NL Cy Young is a three-horse race right now, between Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, and Adam Wainwright.

Halladay currently leads the NL in strikeouts, innings, complete games, and strikeout-to-walk ratio, and ranks second in ERA (to Josh Johnson) and WHIP (to Mat Latos). Wainwright is literally right on Halladay’s heels, behind Doc by mere points in ERA, WHIP, and to a lesser extent, strikeouts and innings. As of July 26, I would have said Johnson wins the award, but he has looked human in his last two starts, giving up eight runs in 12.2 innings and raising his ERA from 1.61 to 1.96.

If the season ended today, Halladay gets my vote for NL Cy Young, and it’s not because I live in Philadelphia. I could live in Weir, Mississippi and recognize that he is the most deserving of this award. As good as Johnson was from May 13-to-July 22, he still has very similar numbers to Halladay in this regard: Doc has allowed two runs or less in 17 of 23 starts, Johnson has allowed two runs or less in 17 of 22 starts.

When you add in Halladay’s insane K/BB ratio (which would be getting a lot more recognition if not for the lunacy of Cliff Lee’s line), plus the fact that he’s led the majors in innings since pretty much Day 1, he’s your NL Cy. Throw in all the complete games, shut outs, and, oh yeah, the perfect game, and you have all the evidence you need. I truly think that Halladay has the best chance to keep this up, with Wainwright staying close all the way, but when push comes to shove, I think the BBWAA will agree with me in October.

Jon Fogg: Overall, this is a pretty tight race among a handful of pitchers (Halladay, Jimenez, Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright, with Tim Lincecum and Chris Carpenter not making the cut). It’s a close call according to the numbers, and if you value wins above everything else, Ubaldo Jimenez gets the nod. Anyone who has 16 wins by the end of July deserves serious consideration. But wins aren’t quite everything, and things get crowded in terms of ERA, WHIP and even WAR. But there is one area where Halladay is clearly superior: innings pitched and complete games — two undervalued statistics in an era of over-reliance on bullpen specialists. Halladay has pitched 178 innings, which over 23 starts averages out to about 7 2/3 innings per start. He has gone the whole way eight times, just one short of his career high. No one else is close in terms of CGs, and the only other pitcher who is in the same ZIP code in terms of innings is Wainwright, who has four CGs and 160 1/3 innings through 23 starts — about 7 IP per start. Johnson is at 147 innings, an average of 6 2/3 innings per start, about what Jimenez gave the Rockies through his first 21 starts.

Pitching deeper into games cannot be undervalued, because it provides less time for the bullpen to come in and screw things up. And no one in the NL pitches deeper into games than Roy Halladay. Assuming these guys finish off the season at the pace they have set for the past four months, Halladay’s ability to eat up innings like Joey Chestnut pounds hot dogs should give Doc the Cy Young.

Pat Gallen: Since everything has been mapped out before me and I have the liberty of being short with my answer I’ll say this: I can’t be objective on this. Time and time again I’ve seen Roy Halladay pitch, I’ve been there to listen to him speak,etc. I’ve seen a handful of starts by Jimenez, Wainwright, and Johnson so the eye test doesn’t apply to them from where I’m sitting. When matching up with numbers, I’ll still take Roy Halladay because of his innings and his K/BB ratio. If he wasn’t let down so often by his offense, he’d have more wins, which you know “real” voters will peek at.

Anywho, Roy Halladay gets my vote, but only by a hair.  Johnson would be the number two with Wainwright at three (and I also thought he should have won a year ago over Lincecum). Jimenez has been downright nasty all season but walks too many batters. Josh Johnson has been so ridiculously consistent but can’t match the innings. Wainwright is somewhere in the middle of all four. I’m going with Roy over Johnson, with Wainwright three, Jimenez four.

Amanda Orr: If the season ended today, no, I would not vote for Halladay, although it is very close.  I would probably put him second behind Josh Johnson, who has had an incredible year.  For a while, Ubaldo Jiminez was first or second, but he has really struggled over his past couple of starts, and has fallen to around the 4-5 range.

Johnson may have the better ERA, but there is still enough time for Halladay to gain ground on Johnson for a Cy Young vote.  They are both very close in WHIP.  Halladay has the most innings, and will likelycontinue to lead the league.  Halladay also has the best strikeout/walk ratio in the National League.  There’s still a very good chance Halladay could surpass Johnson, at least in my book.

Kieran Carobine: Ok I have to admit I had about 150 words down already convincing the readers that Roy Halladay would not win the Cy Young if the season ended today. Then I started comparing numbers. I mean real numbers, not just wins and losses. With what I saw, I could very confidently hand in a ballot with Halladay’s name circled.

This season there has been a lot of good pitchers out there. For these purposes I have rounded out a top six. They are Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Matt Latos and Tim Hudson. Jimenez looks like the overall favorite, for good reason, boasting a 17-2 record and 2.61 ERA. However, he also owns the highest run support of the top six at over seven runs per game.

Halladay has thrown the most innings, struck out the most batter and has the most complete games and shutouts. He trails only Johnson in ERA (2.17 to 1.96). But if you look closer at the numbers, out of the anointed six, Halladay has received the lowest run support with 4.9 runs a game. He is throwing less than four pitches per batter and his WHIP of 1.02 is second to only Latos of the Padres (0.99). Halladay’s strikeouts per nine innings is a just under eight which is low amongst the six but his K/BB is at 7.52. The only pitcher better is that other guy who used to pitch for the Phillies. What was his name?

At 13-8, you could say Halladay’s record is mediocre. But when you look at each game itself and Halladay is going almost eight innings and throwing nearly 110 pitches every time he goes out, I think he separates himself from the group. He is the clear cut favorite? Not even close. But he does get my vote. At least today he does.

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