RIP to one of the best pitchers of my lifetime, Roy "Doc" Halladay. The 40-year-old passed away today in a plane crash off the coast of Florida. Doc was flying the plane himself and riding solo. Flying was one of his passions.
When I first started following baseball in 2003, Halladay was the best in the game. That year he led the league in wins (22), ERA (3.25), innings (266), complete games (9), and K/BB ratio (6.38) en route to wining his first Cy Young award.
As a Sox fan I feared the shit out of Doc. He has to be the most intimidating pitcher of the modern era to never finish a season averaging more than a strikeout per inning. Think about that for a minute. Halladay was an imposing figure on the mound, but he didn't need to miss bats to dominate. The movement on his pitches was sickening. He pitched towards contact, rarely walking anyone while inducing weak contact with an onslaught of sinkers and cutters.
Following the 2009 season it became clear to both Halladay and the Blue Jays that it was time to part ways. Doc was 32 and Toronto needed to rebuild. They sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies where he was his usual dominant self. In 2010 he had his best season and won his second Cy Young award, posting a 2.44 ERA while leading the league in wins (21), innings (250 2/3), complete games (9), and K/BB ratio (7.30).
2010 was also the year Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history (there have been just 23 all time). The Phillies were one of the best teams in baseball that season, and Doc finally had a chance to go to the playoffs. Turns out he liked playing baseball in October, as Halladay threw a no-hitter in NLDS Game 1 versus the Reds.
A year later the Phillies were back in the playoffs, and Halladay got locked into one of the best pitcher duels I've ever seen. In Game 5 of the NLDS versus the Cardinals Halladay allowed a first inning run. That's ALL him and his opponent (and friend) Chris Carpenter would allow that night. The Phillies lost 1-0 in what became an instant classic.
Halladay faded in his final couple of years with the Phillies, and injuries led him to an early retirement at age 36. It's not the right time to talk about his HOF chances, but just know that Halladay's prime (2002-2011) and his apex (2008-2011) are Hall worthy. Doc is number 41 all time in pitching WAR and was the best starter of the 2000s. And for what it's worth, it seems like he was a Hall of Fame human being as well.