Harry Leroy Halladay III (or simply "Roy") will always have a special place in the hearts of Toronto Blue Jays fans. Despite being born and raised in Denver and bearing a nickname derived from a gunfighter of the Western United States (Doc Holliday), Roy Halladay has become synonymous with baseball in Canada's largest city.
If he wins enough games to get into baseball's Hall of Fame, he will almost surely wear a Blue Jays cap and go down as a Blue Jay eternally. Although currently playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, whose nickname "Phillies" means simply people from Philadelphia, Halladay isn't a Philadelphian, he's a Torontonian.
But is he the best player in Toronto baseball history? My short answer is "yes."
When bringing up this argument, one refers to Dave Stieb and Carlos Delgado as his main competitors in the all-history franchise player race. But I don't think it's close. At all.
Comparing Halladay with Stieb
Stieb may have 175 career wins as a Blue Jay, but Halladay isn't far behind with 148 and Halladay has far fewer losses—76 compared to Stieb's 134. That's a .661 win percentage for Halladay and a terrible (for a seven-time all-star) .565 record for Stieb.
They have practically identical ERAs (3.44 for Halladay, 3.43 for Stieb), but the thing with Stieb is that he never put together a truly dominant year.
Sure, he had his no-hitter, but his best season was probably 1984 when he went 16-8 with a 2.83 ERA and 198 strikeouts. He never struck out 200 batters in a season. He never won more than 18 games. Only thrice did he put together a sub-3.00 ERA. As a result, he was never a part of Cy Young races, was your average staff ace, and could have easily fit in as a second starter on another team.
But with Halladay, he had his Cy Young Award in 2003 and was a full-fledged contender for the accolade in both 2008 and 2009 with decent years in between. He's fully capable of striking out 200 batters in a season, doing it three times. He allows a startlingly few amount of walks, 2.00/nine innings for his career. Dave Stieb regularly allowed 80-plus walks and 3.21/nine innings for his career, certainly not a favourable statistic.
Both of them pitch(ed) an alarming number of complete games and were uber-consistent. With Stieb, people play the "he played for the Blue Jays longer, he was more dedicated to his club" card. While he did play 1.4x more games than Halladay (really not that much more), Halladay still played for the Toronto Blue Jays for 12 seasons and signed multiple extensions. He was just as serious about bringing baseball goodness to Toronto as Stieb was.
When browsing a list of Blue Jays team records, the casual observer may infer that Dave Stieb is the best pitcher in team history, but really, it's Halladay. End of discussion, onto Delgado.
Comparing Halladay with Carlos Delgado
Carlos Delgado is unquestionably the best batter in Toronto Blue Jays history. He hit the most home runs. He slugged .556, highest in team history. He scored the most runs, drove in the most runs, collected the most walks, hit the most doubles, the most total bases...need we go on?
But is he closely comparable to Roy Halladay, now established as the best pitcher in Blue Jays history? Once again, I don't think he's up to par with the Doc. Playing only nine seasons with Toronto, the records he set are obviously due to lack of long-team-history-inflation. Had he continued to play for Toronto for four or five more years and hit 500 home runs as a Jay, then sure, start the worshiping, but without it he's stuck in transition a bit.
Carlos Delgado had MVP numbers in 2000 (.344 with 41 homers and 137 Runs Batted In—I don't have a clue as to how he lost to Jason Giambi, who mainly put up inferior stats across the board) as well as being MVP runner-up to A-Rod in 2003. He lost to two steroid users, ick. But nonetheless he proved that, like Roy Halladay and unlike Dave Stieb, he could put together big years and had big stuff.
But Halladay played longer and had just as dominant years with the Blue Jays. You can't blame Delgado for leaving Toronto, and while Delgado maintains a very positive image in Blue Jays fans' minds, I don't think he was nearly as much as a city-wide icon as Halladay was. Fans in Toronto were proud that we had Halladay on our team. Plus, he's a Yankees killer, 18-6 lifetime against the Evil Empire, a key reason Philadelphia wanted him.
So I don't think that Delgado is at Halladay's level; Delgado was good but not as synonymous with Toronto as Halladay has been since his arrival in 1998. Roy Halladay will easily be inducted into the Blue Jays Level of Excellence and will go down as the best Blue Jay ever.
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