Pitches Piling Up for Halladay
Roy Halladay threw 132 pitches in a complete-game loss last night to the Pirates.
That’s a lot of pitches.
Too many pitches? It’s at least worth asking.
- It’s one pitch short of his career high, which he set last season.
- Halladay is averaging 111.8 pitches per game through nine starts. That ranks third in baseball behind Ubaldo Jimenez (112.1) and Justin Verlander (112.0).
- Halladay’s 111.8 pitches ranks 15th amongst 471 pitchers that averaged 100 pitches per start from 2000-10. Halladay’s previous high? He averaged 107.4 pitches per game in 2007, which ranked 74th. He also averaged 107.2 pitches in 2008 (77th), 106.1 pitches in 2009 (120th), 103.6 pitches in 2002 (233rd), 100.8 in 2003 (411th) and 100.7 in 2005 (421st).
- Halladay threw 3,330 pitches in 31 starts in 2007. He would throw 3,466 pitches in 31 starts at his current pace.
- He threw a career-high 3,627 pitches in 36 starts in 2003. He would throw 4,024 at his current pace if he started 36 games this season. It should be noted he threw just 2,053 pitches in 2004, when he spent time on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder and fatigue in his right shoulder. (He threw just 1,912 pitches in 2005, but that’s because he fractured his left tibia.)
Halladay is a work horse. He prepares hard — the guy might be a robot — to pitch deep into every game. But how much is too much, even for a guy like Halladay? The Phillies not only want Halladay fresh this season, they want him fresh in 2013 and possibly beyond.
Bill Baer from Baseball Daily Digest took exception to how I introduced John Dewan‘s findings about Chase Utley being a better player than Albert Pujols over the past five seasons. Baer assumed that I’m one of those crusty ball writers (get off my lawn, kids!) who hates sabermetrics.
In reality, I’ve often used sabermetrics since I started covering the Phillies in 2003. I’ve used stuff from Dewan in the past. I’ve used stuff from Bill James and Baseball Info Solutions. I extensively quoted Baseball Prospectus‘ Joe Sheehan about Ryan Howard‘s strikeout totals being largely irrelevant in a story I wrote for The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2008. The story got me a book published. And in that book I leaned heavily on sabermetrics to help pick my all-time Phillies team. I find sabermetrics very useful. I like sabermetrics. I really do. But why all the sensitivity about any criticism of them?
Bill Simmons wrote an interesting story recently about hopping on board the sabermetric bandwagon. In it, he mentions Carl Crawford‘s UZR since 2003: 14.7, 23.3, 15.5, 9.4, minus-1.2, 19.1 and 17.6. Like Simmons pointed out, what happened to Crawford in 2007? Did he play on one leg? The point I’m making here is the same point I made in the post about Utley vs. Pujols: Sabermetrics are very useful, but they are not the Gospel. They are a piece to the puzzle. Crunch the numbers and use your eyes — then make the best decision possible. I’ve read that people are surprised Pat Burrell‘s production dropped so remarkably since he left the Phillies in 2008 because his metrics were so impressive in seasons past. Well, I wasn’t surprised. I watched him play every day.
Sometimes the numbers just don’t jive with what is happening on the field. (You can’t tell me Crawford suddenly became a poor outfielder in 2007.) And sometimes it’s OK to acknowledge that.