The election of Tom Glavine into the Hall of Fame makes me wonder how voters will reflect on Roy Halladay’s career. The two careers are by no means similar, but that’s what makes it a fascinating comparison.
Glavine is well deserving of his induction. Over his twenty-year career from 198-2007 (excluding his very first and last seasons in which he combined to throw only 113.2 innings), which spanned the heart of the PED era, he compiled a 3.48 ERA, a 1.304 WHIP, fewer than one hit per innings, fewer than one home run per nine innings, 2,550 strikeouts and, of course, the magical 300-plus win total (301 to be exact, 305 for his entire career). He also won two Cy Young awards and finished with two more second place finishes and still two more third place finishes. He was a ten-time All Star and received five top-25 MVP finishes, including one top-10 in 1992. And all that while pitching with Greg Maddux.
Halladay doesn’t have those counting credentials. His career as a full time starter only spanned ten years, 2002-2011. He only has 170 wins in that span (though he does have the wins per season advantage over Glavine 17-15), but he does have 203 overall having played part time for four seasons before becoming a full time starter in 2002 and hanging on for two injury-plagued seasons in 2012-13. He only has 2,117 career strikeouts, and he spent most of his career playing after the PED era (though it’s naïve to think PEDs were eradicated after 2004).
But here’s the case for Doc. The hardware is very similar. Also two Cy Young awards and also two other second place finishes. He has one third place finish and two other fifth place finishes. He’s an eight time All Star and has two top-ten MVP finishes, all in ten fewer years to accomplish these feats. When you consider most of that came while pitching in the AL East in the 2000’s, without question the toughest offensive division, while on a bad team for most of it and in hitter’s parks, and Glavine pitched for one of the best teams in baseball, I give the hardware edge to Doc.
Halladay’s rate stats were also superior. He had a 2.97 ERA and 1.111 WHIP in his ten-year period of dominance, considerably better than Glavine’s numbers. Halladay has the better career FIP, as well (3.39 to 3.95). Glavine, for all his dominance, only had a pedestrian 1.78 K/BB ratio during his full-time years while Halladay’s was a loftier 4.57 during his stretch.
My ballot would include Roy Halladay the second he becomes eligible. His average season was better than Glavine’s, his trophy case is very similar in ten fewer years, and even though his career may not have the longevity of Glavine and some of the other best pitchers in the game, he does indeed have a very dominant ten-year stretch, which is the unwritten, unofficial minimum one can have to be considered dominant.
However, I feel if Doc were on this year’s ballot, he wouldn’t have been elected. There’s still a predilection among voters to over-value counting stats without much attention to their context. Some will cite Doc’s 203 career wins and mention Rick Reuschel, Kenny Rogers and Chuck Finley, others with similar win totals with no chance at enshrinement. Or his 2,117 strikeouts and offer Kevin Millwood, A.J. Burnett and David Wells as comparison.
Hopefully the culture will change in five years and voter turnover will open the doors for Halladay to receive the respect he deserves.