Most people cringe when they hear Roy Halladay say the M-word (Moyer, of course), but not me. Jamie Moyer is one of my favorite pitchers of all-time and do you know why? Because he won with effort and smarts, not super human, God-given ability. I’m fascinated to watch Doc attempt to transform himself for the second time, because if he can keep his ERA under four with this velocity, it might be more incredible than his 2010 and 2011 seasons where he posted ERA's of 2.44 and 2.35.
“If anyone can do it, Doc can,” we are constantly reminded. Jamie Moyer had little more than good control at his arsenal, which is great news, because Halladay in his prime was a control freak, even more so than Cliff Lee. If Halladay can harness that control, with the movement on his pitches...
Easier said than done.
Jamie Moyer was an absolute freak of nature. Guys like him don’t enjoy such sustained success with such a lack of physical skill. Ever. For every Jamie Moyer there are about a billion Vance Worleys and Tyler Cloyds.
Halladay’s incredible control, although partly based on dedication and repetition, is mostly a result of a well formed arm. Halladay’s body made it easy for him to repeat his motion and replicate his arm slot – he worked extremely hard to get it down to perfection, but it was mostly the good fortune of an arm that moved the way he wanted when he wanted. We can see evidence of that right now – a guy who allowed 1.9 walks per nine innings in his career is now walking nearly two and a half times that rate at 4.6 walks/9 in 2013.
The fact is, Halladay is not only pitching out of a different arm slot, but he is also pitching with an arm that is reacting differently than it has in his 19 years in professional baseball. Unless control is just an inherent skill all on its own, Halladay is fighting an uphill battle.
I would love to watch a Moyer-like transformation, but I don’t want to watch another Steve Carlton, the poster boy in Philadelphia for a guy sticking around too long. With each hit batter and four pitch walk, we slowly lose the memory of each complete game, no-hitter, and gorgeous strike from year's past.
Steve Carlton, after pitching for just two teams in 21 seasons, withered away and bounced around between five teams in his last 2+ seasons. If the current state of affairs continue, is Halladay destined for a similar fate as Carlton?
Here is how Steve Carlton's career numbers compare to his last 2+ seasons.
Steve Carlton career vs. final seasons
It was an ugly transition. His ERA jumped by nearly 3 runs and on average over nine innings he allowed 2.2 more hits, double the amount of homers, 1.6 more walks, and 1.4 less strikeouts.
And here are Halladay's career numbers compared to the last two seasons.
Roy Halladay career vs. last two seasons
Halladay's ERA increases by almost two runs, but many of his other numbers aren't nearly as horrendous as Carlton's. But things change dramatically if we limit the comparison to just the 2013 season.
Halladay Complete Just this year
Roy Halladay career vs. 2013
His ERA balloons by nearly 4 runs and although his hits per game actually decline, on average over nine innings he allows nearly 3 times the amount of homers, almost three more walks, and 0.6 less strikeouts.
Of course one season does not make a career, and Halladay still deserves more time to adjust to his new body before we can write him off forever. There is little doubt that Roy Halladay will return next season. He is a fiercely determined individual and in his mind he owes it to himself to dedicate himself over the offseason and see if a comeback is a true possibility.
It would be a true testament if Doc can return as a Jamie Moyer disciple, set his ego aside, and reinvent himself as he did after posting a 10.64 ERA in 2000. Maybe he can be the ultimate success story and stick around long enough to win a championship as Moyer did. But if his body won't allow him such a grand ending, I hope he has the strength to end the story before baseball does it for him.
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