October 23, 2014

Head-To-Head Comparison:
Roy Halladay vs. Cliff Lee

Phillies Halladay Lee Trades

So now that we’ve discussed what kind of “stuff” Roy Halladay has, let’s look at performance, and specifically, let’s look at it in comparison to the man he is replacing in 2010, Cliff Lee. Per request, I’m going to throw in the other best pitchers of the last 2 seasons in some comparisons, Tim Lincecum, C.C. Sabathia, Zach Greinke, Felix Hernandez and Johan Santana (apologies to Dan Haren, had to cut the line somewhere), to see if we can make the argument that the best pitcher in ALL of baseball now resides on Pattison Ave.

After his magical playoff performance, a number of Phillies fans seemed to be expecting a Cy Young season out of Lee in 2010, and they weren’t crazy for thinking that. As a result, while some people are miffed the Phillies don’t have both pitchers on the squad right now, there are others who think we actually downgraded ourselves for 2010. I am not one of those people, and I hope to explain why here.

Basic Stats, 2008-09

First, let’s just look at some basic numbers for the last two seasons (average of the two). Keep in mind that these were, BY FAR, the best 2 seasons of Lee’s career.

Halladay vs Lee

* WAR is Wins Above Replacement and is the main metric used by FanGraphs
*VORP is Value Over Replacement Player and is the main metric used by Baseball Prospectus

  • First thing to note is that Halladay bests Lee in every single stat, except losses, which are as much a product of the team he was on than the pitcher. There aren’t any huge margins, but the margins are there. More on this later.
  • It’s pretty clear the best 2 pitchers of the last two years have been Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay. Probably Lincecum by a hair because of his dominant H/9 and K/9 numbers, but you could really make an argument for either pitchers.
  • What differentiates Halladay from the other elite pitchers here are his IP, his very low BB/9 rate, and the fact that he a ground ball pitcher.

Let’s return to Halladay barely beating Lee in all these categories. Everyone talks about how Halladay did this in AL East, and that is a big factor. HOW big a factor it was, I did not realize. Over the last 2 seasons, here are the top 10 teams that Lee and Halladay have faced based on IP.

Halladay vs Lee2

Let me do the math for you real fast. That is 231 INNINGS against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. That’s not just “some” pitching against the beasts in the NL East, that’s a FULL SEASON. Now – with that knowledge, go back and look at the chart of stats above again and tell me how you think Halladay would rank against a normal schedule.

In case you were wondering. He had a 2.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in those 231 innings, with the majority of the damage coming from the Rays. Against just the Red Sox and Yankees, he was 13-5 with a 2.59 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.

Anyone want to guess how he’ll do against the Pirates, Nationals and Marlins?

Consistency

Another aspect I want to look at in comparing Lee and Halladay (I’m going to exclude the rest of the pitchers from here on out) is their consistency. We all loved that Lee pounded the strike-zone, pitched late in to games, and didn’t walk anyone. If you can believe it, Halladay is even better in these areas and is better in consistently delivering high-level starts.

Let’s look at some numbers.

Strike %, 2009

Halladay, 68.6% (best in baseball)
Lee, 68.2%

BB/9 Rate, 2009

Halladay, 1.3 (best in baseball)
Lee, 1.7

IP per Start, 2008-09

Halladay, 7.4
Lee, 7.0

Pete’s Quality Start %*, 2008-09

Halladay, 75%
Lee, 66%

Starts Giving Up 6+ ER, 2008-09

Halladay, 1
Lee, 7

% of Starts Pitching 6+ Innings, 2008-09

Halladay, 95%
Lee, 83%

% of Starts Pitching 8+ Innings, 2008-09

Halladay, 46% (best in baseball)
Lee, 37%

Complete Games, 2008-09

Halladay, 17 (best in baseball)
Lee, 11

* A quality start for me is 6 IP/2 ER, 7IP/3ER, or 8-9IP/4ER

So what is my point? All the things we’ve loved about Lee (he was a throwback, ate up innings, challenged hitters) are there with Halladay, only more so. With Lee, you knew there was a 90-some percent chance he was going to go out there and pitch 7+ innings and give up 2 runs or so. With Halladay, the percentage, and the results, are a little higher. Halladay has only had 3 starts in the last 2 years where he didn’t complete the 6th inning. If you remember how much trouble our guys had doing this entire year, that will be a huge help for our bullpen’s health down the stretch.

Clubhouse Presence

Obviously there are no numbers here, and obviously Cliff Lee was a great clubhouse guy, but I’ve read many things that tell me that Roy Halladay is perfect for this team’s chemistry. The best for me, was from Buster Olney…

It’s hard to imagine any superstar player who would have fit more perfectly into the Phillies clubhouse than Halladay will, between his work ethic and his demeanor and the way that he will go about his business. He is the Chase Utley of pitchers, and for at least the next three to four years, the Phillies’ clubhouse culture will be all about winning baseball games — and that is certainly not the case for some teams.

If there is one thing the Phillies have cared about under the Gillick/Amaro regime, it’s character, as signings like Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco show. If it’s possible for a player to make a team coming off back-to-back NL Pennants more focused on winning, Roy Halladay, who just took about $60-$80 million under market value to play in Philly, is that player.

Playoff Experience

We will not soon forget the show that Cliff Lee put together this post-season. And most of those who would prefer Lee point to it as the main reason why he should still be wearing red pinstripes. While it’s indisputable that Lee stepped up to the big stage, I have little doubt that Halladay can do the same, and that this is a non-issue. I have 3 reasons why…

  • As good as Lee was last year, there is no guarantee he will be that good again. Cole Hamels is just one of many examples of this.
  • Roy Halladay has pitched 516.2 career innings against the Yankees and Red Sox and as I showed above, he has dominated them in recent years. He can handle a big stage.
  • Halladay is a “stuff” pitcher. As I said in my previous post, players have said that they know what he is throwing and still can’t hit it. Nerves won’t change his stuff. Nerves tend to change location, and affect location pitchers more.

Durability

This is not a 2010 issue, but rather a future issue I think should be discussed. I do think that Lee is less of an injury concern than Halladay because he is left-handed, has a smoother delivery and doesn’t throw as hard.

However, Halladay, like Raul Ibanez, has a legendary work ethic, and I think, like Curt Schilling, will be a dominant pitcher into his late 30′s.

Obviously nothing is guaranteed, but a 3-year extension, not 4-5 years, gives the Phillies some insurance here if Halladay were to suffer an injury.

Conclusions

So there you have it. Cliff Lee was one of the top-6 pitchers in baseball the last 2 years, and Roy Halladay has him beat in pretty much every conceivable category, and did it while pitching 50% of his innings against arguably the toughest offensive teams in the league. There is no questions which pitcher I would rather have in 2010, and no question which one I would take through 2013. There is also no question that Halladay’s 3-year extension is far better than anything Lee would have wanted. So… are there any questions left?

Just like last year when the people upset we got Lee instead of Halladay were silenced after that first CG, the same people (I presume it’s the same people that are mad now) will love this deal after Halladay’s first couple starts.

We just got the best pitcher* in baseball folks, and he took a huge discount for the honor to play here for the next several years. Pretend your 2005 self just read that line, take a deep breath, and enjoy it.

*apologies to Timmy Baseball in San Fran



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Comments

  1. Dan says:

    I think the innings pitched angle isn’t getting enough play here.  Between the complete games and going 8 innings, Doc will help us in the area we will be weakest: bullpen. 

    Consider this:  The different between Doc and Lee in IP over the past 2 years amounts to about 20 innings a year.  That’s almost 3 complete games worth of Halladay pitching vs. our bullpen pitching this year.  That amounts to approximately 3 games X 2.5 difference in ERA (between Doc and our ‘pen) = 7.5 earned runs over the course of the year.  The rule of thumb being 10 runs = 1 win, just the extra innings alone will net us almost an extra win a year vs Lee  just because of the innings!

    Another rule of thumb says 1 extra win contribution from a player = about $10MM extra salary.  Given that we have Doc for $20MM per year, it’s a joke what an absolute steal he is.

  2. Pete says:

    Dan-

    Very interesting way to look at it. I’ll keep that one in mind in the future.

    And that’s 1 win over LEE – who is damn near 2nd in baseball behind Halladay in all these categories.

  3. Chris McC says:

    This entire section gave me chills.  I remember reading that same Olney quote; the Chase Utley of Pitchers.  Isn’t it freaking awesome that the Chase Utley of everyone else is also on this team?


    Clubhouse Presence
    Obviously there are no numbers here, and obviously Cliff Lee was a great clubhouse guy, but I’ve read many things that tell me that Roy Halladay is perfect for this team’s chemistry. The best for me, was from Buster Olney…

    It’s hard to imagine any superstar player who would have fit more perfectly into the Phillies clubhouse than Halladay will, between his work ethic and his demeanor and the way that he will go about his business. He is the Chase Utley of pitchers, and for at least the next three to four years, the Phillies’ clubhouse culture will be all about winning baseball games — and that is certainly not the case for some teams.

    If there is one thing the Phillies have cared about under the Gillick/Amaro regime, it’s character, as signings like Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco show. If it’s possible for a player to make a team coming off back-to-back NL Pennants more focused on winning, Roy Halladay, who just took about $60-$80 million under market value to play in Philly, is that player.

  4. Sean says:

    Fantastic analysis, as usual.
    I really love the way you quantified just how much Halladay has competed against the beasts of the AL East(aka the 07 World Champs, 08 AL Champs & 09 World Champs).  Switching sports to hoops, it is like having a guy who averages 25 PPG vs a guy who averages 26 PPG, while primarily playing against the Celtics, 09 Lakers & the Spurs.  I’d love to have found a way to keep Lee too, but it is understandable.
    Though the idea that Moyer’s extra year option and a couple moves might have kept Lee here through this year is just a mild disappointment.
    Regarding your final bit of advice, My 2005 self giggled like Ledger’s Joker sucking on Red Bulls and assumed that my eggnog was spiked or somebody’s playing a joke.

  5. bski says:

    Quick update on our bullpen situation from mlbtraderumors:

    Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Phils offered Scott Eyre a minor league deal. The lefty wants more, so he hasn’t accepted the offer. The Yankees have some interest in Eyre, but have yet to make him a formal offer. 
    Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Scott Lauber of the News Journal that he doesn’t expect to reach a deal with Chan Ho Park. “I just don’t think Chan Ho and the Phillies are going to be able to bring the marriage together,” Amaro said. 
     
     

    With that, the search continues……

  6. Tony says:

    Pete,
     
    Great analysis.  I came out of this with some thoughts:
     
    1) Halladay is unquestionably the best pitcher in the game.  Lincecum is dominant in his own way and a case can be made for him as well but Halladay has faced the tougher competition and more often.
     
    2) Cliff Lee is a left-handed Lite version of Halladay.  His strengths are the same as Halladay’s just not quite as good. The difference in their 2010 salaries, ie, $6.75M, makes Lee a friggin’ steal for the M’s.
     
    3) If we had kept Lee, we would’ve had 2 of the top 6 pitchers in all of baseball. Yes, this comparison clearly shows Halladay is better but only marginally. I’m hoping the M’s find a way to suck this year and trade him back to us at the deadline for cheap.

  7. phil the phan says:

    It’s writing like this that makes Recliner my phavorite Phillies blog site.  Great explanation, Pete

  8. Tony says:

    Speaking of head-to-head, ESPN asked 10 current players, and one former player, to name the best batter-pitcher matchup in the game, the one — if they were clicking from game-to-game at home — they would immediately stop to watch. The results were surprising only because of their unanimity.

    “Orioles first baseman Aubrey Huff: “Roy Halladay against Pujols, best against the best.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=4271518

  9. Ken Bland says:

    The baseball post season to a great extent can be simplifies to which starting pitcher(s) are most effective on 3 days rest.  In an article in the last couple days in the Toronto Star, posted on this site under a different thread, its pointed out that as you all know, Lee has never pitched on 3 days rest.  Doc is 4-2 with an average start of 7 innings. That, in and of itself offers a fair amount of closure on the debate.  No club can fford 4-5 quality starters, so you have to have a dependable short turnaround starter leading your staff.   Calling Doc Halladay the Chase Utley of pitchers is a powerful compliment.  I’d consider it at least an equal to say that Halladay clearly surpasses Cliff Lee as a pitcher, because Cliff Lee is terrific.

  10. Tony says:

    In Toronto, Chase Utley is known as the Roy Halladay of non-pitchers.
    ;)

  11. Ken Bland says:

    In Toronto, Chase Utley is known as the Roy Halladay of non-pitchers.
    >>

    In Atlanta, they ask how many Greg Maddux Awards Cy Young won?

    Different cities, different questions.

    ESPN, the worldwide leader in shameless self promotion has named its all decade team.  One Phillie made the roster.  That would be pitching, number 34, Roy Halladay.  Here’s what Tim Kurkjian provided as a write up on the new Phil on the decision….

    This was a close call over Roy Oswalt, Pedro Martinez and others. Halladay won the most games (139) of any right-hander in the decade. Among all pitchers, he had the most complete games (47) and shutouts (14), had the third highest winning percentage (.668), and was 11th in ERA (3.40) and 11th in innings pitched (1,883 1/3). He also won one Cy Young Award, and it’s safe to say that no pitcher worked harder than Halladay.

    Pujols at first, Jeff Kent at second, Jeter and Alex, Barry Bonds, I forget who in center, Ichiro in right, Mauer at catcher, and Randy the lefty pitcher.

    The Mariners acquring Mlton Bradley makes me wonder if Johnny Damon might be of interest to the Cubs. 

  12. Ken Bland says:

    I forget who in center>>

    Carlos Beltran

  13. stu says:

    /Threadjack
    Pete, Eagles-49ers preview/thoughts?  First game that weather is REALLY a factor.  Gotta be a huge upset if Alex Smith comes in and wins on the road in a big game, right?  Do we lock up a playoff birth with a win since we hold the tiebreaker over the GMEN?
    \Threadjack

  14. bski says:

    If anyone is interested, I found a good article on the competitive imbalance in baseball by Sky Andrecheck of si.com (I like his articles on baseball economics).

    Here is the summary:

    Of the four indicators of competitive balance, Selig and MLB have a mixed record. On one hand, the best and worst teams aren’t quite as extreme as they used to be, and the same few teams are not dominating year after year as they were in the late ’90s and early 2000s. That represents some modest progress in baseball’s quest for competitive balance. However, on baseball’s two most important fronts, payroll imbalance and small market competitiveness, MLB is basically in the same situation it was in at the beginning of the decade. This systematic disparity between teams’ ability to succeed is at the heart of the competitive imbalance problem, and these issues remain the most dangerous problems for Major League Baseball. That’s not to say that the changes Selig enacted in response to the Blue Ribbon Panel weren’t helpful — who knows what the game would look like today had there been no changes — however, there is clearly more work to be done. While the commissioner can claim some improvements, he is fooling himself if he considers this to be the best era of competitive balance in the history of the game.

     

  15. Ken Bland says:

    Somewhere along the line, this site (article) may have been posted or quoted from, its on the Phillies Top 20 Prospects for 2010

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2009/12/18/1207506/philadelphia-phillies-top-20

  16. Ken Bland says:

    Curt Schilling on Halladay/Lee from his blog…

    <<Man, I can’t understand the Philly angle though. Yes I think Roy Halladay is far and away better, by a lot, than any of the guys being mentioned here, but I would have given up the players to have Lee and Halladay in my rotation for at least a year, and worked a deal to extend Lee as well. That’s, with that lineup, guaranteeing a post season trip for the next 3-4 years.>>

  17. Tony says:

    Ken,
     
    It was a no-brainer to keep Lee AND Halladay.  If this team does not win another title in Halladay’s tenure here, many will always harken back to this the Lee deal.
     
     

  18. Pete says:

    Even if we kept Lee, he wasn’t being re-signed.

    I’m not looking forward to us not winning a title and everyone saying this proves them “right” that we shouldn’t have traded Lee. As if winning the World Series was some foregone conclusion.

  19. Tony says:

    Pete,
     
    Aside from the once in a lifetime chance of having Halladay-Lee-Hamels atop the rotation, the Lee trade was just terrible Karma.
     
    What Lee did for the team and the city in the 2009 playoffs was every bit as endearing if not more than Hamels in 2008.  To dust him off the way the Phillies did, it’s almost like a slap in the face not just to Lee but also the baseball gods.  I feel like we were given a tremendous opportunity but let cockiness/stinginess throw it away.  It doesn’t sit well in my gut.  You don’t do to a playoff hero what the Phillies did to Lee.
     
    I hope Hamels and Halladay prove all the doubters wrong and win it in 2010.
     

  20. Pete says:

    I certainly get the argument – and I obviously wouldn’t have been upset had they kept Lee as well. But it is extremely important in baseball to not just think about the next year, but the next 3-4. Only the Yankees have the funds to think year-to-year. When you think year-to-year, but don’t have the funds to correct mistakes, you turn out like the Mets.

    I agree that Lee got somewhat of a raw deal (Seattle is looking like a playoff team though) but Karma is a little too cosmic for me. Lee wanted 5-6 years, Halladay would sign for 3, Halladay is better, we couldn’t afford both either money-wise or prospect-wise and I believe the organization is in better shape than before the trade. Nothing more than that for me.

  21. Tony says:

    I get your position too.  I just don’t buy the prospects/future part when everywhere that I read about the prospects we got for Lee are that they aren’t that good and even not much better than the Type A FA picks we would’ve gotten.
     
    I posted a link on a Benny Looper interview about those prospects.  He would know them best in the Phils organization and I couldn’t get excited about what he said.  Even from Looper, they seem to be ho-hum prospects.

  22. Jewf says:

    “Another rule of thumb says 1 extra win contribution from a player = about $10MM extra salary.  Given that we have Doc for $20MM per year, it’s a joke what an absolute steal he is.?

    What does this mean? The 10MM seems like a typo.

  23. Ken Bland says:

    rom Pete…

    <<Even if we kept Lee, he wasn’t being re-signed.
    I’m not looking forward to us not winning a title and everyone saying this proves them “right” that we shouldn’t have traded Lee. As if winning the World Series was some foregone conclusion.>>

    In a word, bravo.  In a sentence, I don’t know if bravo actually applies to looking forward to not wining a title, but my point should be clear.

  24. Ken Bland says:

    But Hamels also is about to turn 26, an age before which Halladay and Lee each had only one season with double-digit victories. >>

    http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20091220/SPORTS01/912200367/1021/Breaking-Hamels-of-his-perfectionist-fantasy

  25. Ken Bland says:

    <<The Nationals will sign Jason Marquis, according to MASN.  The Phillies and Mets were other clubs reportedly in the mix for the 31-year-old righty.  Back on December 15th, Marquis explained to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that he found the ability to mentor the Nats’ young pitching staff appealing.>>

    Wonder where Pedro is about coming back after what’s transpired and perhaps more importnatly, where RAJ is. 

  26. Dan says:

    Jewf, I misspoke, the actual number is about 5 or 6 Million, not 10.  Sorry.

  27. Zach says:

    The only thing you did not consider is game performances. Lee can can give great performances back to back to back to back. Yes he has bad games that diminish his averages, but he never performed poor when we needed a win when we were defeated 2 or more in a row or in the Playoffs.
    I think currently a manager would choose Lee to win any one game. Whether it be against Sabathia or Halladay.

  28. Ken Bland says:

    Well, the fireupedness of the Hot Stove Season rages on.

    I just purchased a Halladay home jersey.  Numero 34 if you are scoring a home.  What are the rest of you slowpokes waiting for?

    Perhaps the best purchase I have made since investing in one of those loose bodies that later wound up in Scott Eyre’s elbow last season.

  29. Ken Bland says:

    <<Wonder where Pedro is about coming back after what’s transpired and perhaps more importnatly, where RAJ is.>> 
    Well, this from Jayson Stark this afternoon may provide some degree of answer…

    3:43pm:
    ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Mets have looked into bringing Pedro Martinez back to Flushing, and are “continuing to kick around the idea internally.” One official with a club who had interest in Pedro said he’s looking to exceed Brad Penny’s deal, which means one year and $7.5MM guaranteed.

    The 38-year-old Pedro earned about $1.5MM with incentives in 2009, when he made nine starts with a 3.63 ERA for the Phillies. He’s looking to play a full season in 2010.

  30. bski says:

    Found this on Yahoo sports:

    Former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay has taken out a full-page newspaper advertisement thanking the city and the team’s fans.


    Said the right-hander: “Toronto will forever have a special place in my heart. The memories will last a lifetime and so will my gratitude.”

    Very classy.

  31. bski says:

    I don’t mean to beat this whole prospects thing to death, however phuturephillies has another interesting article (plus there hasn’t been much to talk about the last few days) attempting to quantify what we gave up and what we got back.  It’s based on the SONAR scores for each prospect involved.

    SONAR is a metric unveiled by phuturephillies a couple months ago.  It’s purpose is……to be able to look at a minor league player’s numbers and immediately understand how he stacks up based on what league he is in, how old he is, and what home park he plays in, but do so by focusing mainly on his core abilities, not his batting average, home runs, RBI’s, or stolen bases. ……….The higher the score, the better the prospect………..The number is not a counting stat like HR or RBI, and its not a true average stat like OB%. Its kind of a composite stat.

    Here is the SONAR scale:

    80 – Elite, very rare skill
    75 – Well above average, borderline elite
    70 – Well above average
    65 – Above average, borderline well above average
    60 – Above average
    55 – Average to above average
    50 – Average
    45 – Average to below average
    40 – Below Average
    35 – Below average to well below average
    30 – Well below average
    25 – Well below average to very poor
    20 – Very poor

    and here is how all of the prospects involved in the deal measured out:

    Drabek = 64.10
    Taylor = 47.31
    D’Arnaud = 17.88
    Total scores; 129.29
    Aumont = 22.40
    Gillies = 58.86
    Ramirez = -15.30
    Total scores; 65.96
    Brett Wallace = 29.78

    There is a lot of discussion in both of the articles to which I provided links.  For those who don’t want to bother with all of the details, here is the upshot:

    My biggest takeaway after looking at everything for 2 days is that Gillies is a lot better prospect than I gave him credit for. Gillies is kind of what we hope Gose becomes. He’s got a much more advanced approach at the plate, doesn’t have the same contact issues, and if hes not as fast as Gose, its very close. The Phillies could potentially field an outfield of Gose, Brown and Gillies in 4 years. That would probably be one of the fastest outfields in history, which I’m sure the pitchers would appreciate. I’m not happy about losing Drabek, he was clearly out best pitching prospect. The key to the value of this deal is going to be the performance of Aumont. If the Phillies can tweak his mechanics, put him back in the rotation, and give him time to develop I think he could actually be a legitimate middle of the rotation starter. Which is what we traded away in Drabek. We’ll need time.

  32. wayne says:

    I think  getting  Halladay  is  great,  but  the way we treated Lee will leave a bat taste for  long while.   FOr what he did, and how he performed we owed him next year.  We got nothing for him, and we wanted to stay. We could have had both and should have had both.   Does anyone need $20 million a year????   Was Lee geedy????  I don’t see this  “we couldn’t sign’ him argument,  and never will

  33. Andrew says:

    Halladay will never make it big.

  34. Carmen says:

    I think Halladay is THE BEST pitcher in baseball. The stats are all there and he won the Cy Young Unanimously. He pitched the second no-hitter in postseason history and in his very first postseason game.