John Lackey? Roy Halladay? Both are All-Star caliber pitchers. Both could elevate the Mets to the level where we expect them to be. Signing Lackey and trading for Halladay would look lovely, but we know that’s not happening. After all, the Wilpons are our owners. Acquiring one of the two appears to be the more likely scenario.
As Joe D stated in a blog earlier today, John Lackey might be the wiser choice because he would be a less expensive option than Halladay, is 1½ years younger and wouldn’t cost the Mets all the players they’d have to give up in exchange for Halladay. I agree with all of Joe D’s points but I’ve looked into it a little deeper and found another reason why the Mets would be better off with Lackey instead of Halladay. It’s something that has been overlooked by many but is quite relevant considering that whoever they acquire would be switching leagues.
Roy Halladay has a phenomenal career record. Since making his debut for the Blue Jays in 1998, his career record is 148-76 (.661 winning percentage), with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. If Halladay was traded to the Mets, he’s be facing primarily National League teams. His career numbers against NL teams are fairly similar to his overall career numbers. Against the senior circuit, Halladay owns a .680 winning percentage (17-8) with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
If the Mets were to trade for Halladay instead of signing Lackey, it would make sense that Halladay should be far better than Lackey against National League teams. After all, how would Halladay’s 20-4 career record against the Baltimore Orioles be relevant as a member of the New York Mets? When looking at Lackey’s career numbers against National League teams, it might come as a surprise that not only is Lackey on par with Halladay, he’s actually better than him.
Lackey has been in the majors for less time than Halladay, as his major league debut didn’t come until 2002. However, against the teams that the Mets would facing in the National League, Lackey is 12-4 (.750 winning perecentage) with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. By comparison, Johan Santana was 16-4 with a 2.26 ERA against National League teams while he was a member of the Minnesota Twins. In his first year in the National League with the Mets, he led the league in ERA with his 2.53 mark.
Roy Halladay’s career numbers make him seem like a better pick over John Lackey. But when looking at career records, the only relevant numbers to consider are the ones against foes the Mets would be facing. If Lackey has been more effective against National League teams than Halladay has, when you combine that with his age, the less expensive price tag, the lack of players given up to acquire him and (lest we forget) the postseason experience he has that Halladay doesn’t have, it should be clear that Lackey’s the man.