Reinvented is the chic term in Philadelphia. It’s being used to describe what people believe will be the saving grace in the career of Roy Halladay: reinvention. Can Doc learn to pitch with decreased velocity, honing his off-speed pitches when his fastball lacks the same pop it did during a decade-long run as the best pitcher in the world?
No one knows. And quitting and failure aren’t in Halladay’s vernacular, so we’ll be left to take a wait and see approach. Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro are doing the same, they said so themselves on Tuesday. Amaro told reporters that they would give Halladay as long as he would need to become the pitcher they all believe he can still be.
But what kind of pitcher is that, exactly?
Father Time’s win streak will stay intact, but in the case of Halladay, he hopes to push him off just a little longer. Some in the business were able to do it (with or without PED’s) better than others.
Using Fangraphs’ WAR, Halladay ranks 33rd all time at 68.2. In that range are, obviously, some of the best of all time. And at some point each of those pitchers had to face the fact that their ability was diminishing, velocity decreasing, repertoire lacking.
Take John Smoltz for instance. The Altanta Brave great ranks 23rd all time with 78.4 WAR. He spent 21 seasons in the majors, winning the Cy Young Award in 1996. In 2007, at age 40, he turned in a fantastic season, going 14-8 with a 3.11 ERA. A half-decade earlier, Smoltz had been one of the best closers in the game for a three-year stretch before returning to the rotation. He reinvented himself a few times during his career, and at 42, he had completed 20 seasons in the major leagues.
Kevin Appier doesn’t stand out as an all-time great, but he does rank 80th all time in WAR for pitchers. Appier churned out roughly a decades worth of solid seasons, toiling in Kansas City for the most part. In 2002 at 34-years old while with the Angels, he churned out a respectable season with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. The next, his career was pretty much over. No reinvention.
Basically, Halladay is heading into the unknown. He either goes the route of some of the greats that lasted, but eventually fell off the cliff. Or, he figures it out and finishes his illustrious career by aging gracefully.