- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"You on 19, Roy?" he texted Halladay.
Halladay is 32 years old, has two sons, has earned $73 million and is due another $75.75 million over the next four seasons. He has won 148 major league games and has a .661 winning percentage—only four pitchers since 1900 have had a better winning percentage with that many wins: Whitey Ford, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove and Christy Mathewson. Halladay is widely accepted as the best pitcher in baseball. And this spring he made darn sure he was the first one to arrive for work each morning at the Clearwater spring training complex of his new team, the Phillies. Halladay reported at 5:30, 90 minutes before sunrise, four hours before the Phillies were required to be in uniform, and 15 minutes earlier than when he first showed up in camp in early February. He moved up his arrival once pitchers Kyle Kendrick and Chad Durbin tried to beat him through the clubhouse door. "We had to give him his own swipe card at Rogers Centre," says Kevin Malloy, the clubhouse manager in Toronto, where Halladay played from 1998 until his trade to Philadelphia in December, "because he would get in before anybody else. If you saw all the work that Roy put in for the four days before every start—all the conditioning, all the video work, all the studying—you would cry if he didn't come out of that game with a win."
Roy Halladay is the Lance Armstrong of pitchers. His capacity for work—both his physical endurance and his obsessive need to train his body—is freakish. Before the Phillies were required to be on the field this spring, Halladay had already worked out for 90 minutes nonstop: lifting weights, fielding a multisided rubber reaction ball, sliding laterally on a slide board, using the elliptical machine, running on the treadmill, pulling on rubber tubing and tackling other assorted exercises, capped off by stretching and then soaking in metal tubs, alternating between 110° water and 50° water to open and close his blood vessels, which helps his body recover more efficiently. In Toronto many of his teammates tried the lower-body regimen Halladay does on the day after starts. "None of them made it halfway," says former Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg.
Roy Halladay is the Peyton Manning of pitchers. "That's what I call him," says Yankees starter A.J. Burnett, a former Toronto teammate. "No one is more prepared." Halladay, following Brandy's encouragement, has cataloged every start, every hitter, every side session, every workout, every nut and bolt of his professional life—at least since the Dunedin crisis—in notebooks and computer files.
Roy Halladay is the Babe Ruth of pitchers. In 1920 Ruth hit more home runs, 54, than each of the other seven American League teams. Since 2002 Halladay has thrown more complete games, 46, than 10 AL teams—needing fewer than 100 pitches in 11 of them. He has thrown nine complete games in a season three times in those eight years; all other active pitchers combined have only done so only twice.
Roy Halladay is the Cy Young of pitching. Only two men in AL history have had the combination of power and control to strike out 200 batters in a season while having fewer walks than starts. One was Halladay in 2003, when he won the Cy Young Award. The other was Cy Young himself more than 100 years ago. Talk about your control freaks.
Nobody today executes the craft of pitching better and works at it more diligently and ferociously than does Harry Leroy Halladay III, a.k.a. Doc. With fiendishly late-moving sinkers and cutters as his primary weapons, Halladay attacks hitters with brutal, clinical efficiency, having almost no use for waste pitches, setup pitches, "pitching around" hitters or, for that matter, modern bullpen strategy.
Hitting may be the root of offense, but never does the martial art of wielding a two-pound hunk of ash or maple appear so defensive as when Halladay is on the mound. His philosophy of pitching is predatory: "I try to go after them as quickly as possible." He does so with nary a smile or a spoken word until the job is done, for the fox barks not when he would steal the lamb.
"I actually believe he's underrated," says Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. "I would pay him three years, $240 million. No disrespect to CC Sabathia and any of those guys. But he's the best there is by far."
"He's got top five leg strength in all of baseball," Arnsberg says. "He's got the stamina of a mountain climber, and he's got the willpower of a 20-year-old kid trying to make a team. We used to call him TP: Total Package. Doc is the total package."