The Philadelphia Phillies aren't off to a great start this season.
The Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay isn't off to a great start this season.
Those things aren't entirely unconnected.
I saw this last night, while sitting in Yankee Stadium and generally minding my own business:
Last time Roy Halladay's ERA was so high into his 10th start of a season was 2007, when it was 4.63. Finished that season career worst 3.71— High Heat Stats (@HighHeatStats) May 23, 2012
First, the obvious: 3.22 -- Halladay's ERA entering his 10th start -- isn't the same as 4.63. It's real hard to go from 4.63 to excellent, but real easy to go from 3.22 to excellent.
His ERA got worse, though. Halladay got knocked around pretty good by the Nationals in his 10th start, which he finally exited with a 3.58 ERA.
Second, the not quite as obvious: Statistically speaking, there's still very little reason to believe Roy Halladay doesn't still rank among the game's very best pitchers.
Yes, his ERA is relatively high, now just 39th best in the National League.
And yes, his strikeout-to-walk ratio has taken a tumble. After leading his leagues four straight seasons -- 2008 and '9 in the American League, 2010 and '11 the National -- Halladay's K/BB has fallen from 6.3 last year to 4.3 this year. Granted, 4.3 is still outstanding. But that's a 31-percent drop.
It's a funny thing about early-season percentages, though ... They're the product of calculations involving puny numbers.
Halladay has struck out 56 hitters this season. If he'd instead struck out 66 -- just one more batter in each start -- his strikeout rate would be exactly what it was last year.
Halladay has walked 13 hitters this season. If he'd instead walked 11 -- just one fewer batter in two of his starts -- his walk rate would be exactly what it was last year.
So the only things separating Halladay from his league-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of last season are 10 strikeouts and two walks. Would anyone care to argue that 10 strikeouts and two walks mean more than Halladay's recent track record of pure brilliance for some seasons running?
Yes, he's been hurt by home runs, too. Including two for the Nationals Tuesday night. He's now allowed five home runs, as opposed to 10 all of last season. And if he'd instead allowed three home runs, his home-run rate would be exactly what it was last year.
So let's append the early summation. Qualitatively, the only things separating Roy Halladay from his brilliant 2011 are 10 strikeouts, two walks, and two long fly balls that carried the fence.
We can freak out about Roy Halladay.
Or not freak out.
You get to choose. But I say he's still the best pitcher in the National League.
What do you think? Please weigh in below, and I'll join you...