Sky Is the Limit for Roy Halladay in the NL

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Sky Is the Limit for Roy Halladay in the NL
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During the better part of the year and a half prior to December 2009, many baseball fans were kept guessing as to whether or not Roy "Doc" Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays would be dealt from the team and where it would be.

For most, it was a question of "when" not "if" arguably the best pitcher in the game would land with a contender sporting a fat wallet.

On Dec. 16th, the speculation ended as the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in a multi-team trade that also saw former Phillie ace Cliff Lee sent to the Seattle Mariners.  

It was hard to believe that there was actually a player out there worthy of sending 2009 postseason hero Lee packing. But you'd be hard-pressed to find a Phillie fan who had an airtight argument against the deal.

On a team that finished under .500 five of the 11 years since his rookie season, Halladay has averaged 13 wins with 134 strikeouts per year with the Blue Jays. 

While the numbers may seem average upon first look, one must read between the lines.

If there has been one knock on Halladay through the years it has been that he has seemed to be injury prone throughout his whole career. He has missed huge portions of several seasons due to injuries; perhaps the most notable being a broken leg suffered in 2005 after being struck by a hard line drive in early July, ending that campaign.

However, when studying the six seasons in which Halladay started more than 30 games, the numbers jump to an average of 18 wins and 176 strikeouts per season. All of this while pitching in the toughest division in baseball.

Against the odds, facing teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox several times in a season, Halladay has still managed to elevate himself to the status of one of baseball's elite players.

Now he comes to the National League. The league dubbed by some sports people as the "B-League" of baseball.

We have seen the scary surges of American League players turned National League after two trade deadline deals during the past two years.

Who could forget Manny Ramirez's domination of the National League West after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Red Sox in 2008? After hitting .299 with 20 homers and 68 runs batted in in 100 games with the Red Sox, Ramirez's average rose almost 100 points higher to .396 while nearly equaling his run production at 17 long balls and 53 driven in in only 53 games after moving to LA.

More recently, the previously mentioned Cliff Lee managed to equal his win total in about half as many games with seven in the American League (22 starts) and seven in the National League (12 starts) after being dealt from the Cleveland Indians to Philadelphia at 2009's deadline.

In addition, Johan Santana, perhaps the only other starting pitcher on Halladay's level, saw his ERA sink to 2.53 in 2008 with the Mets after it was up at 3.33 the previous season with the Twins.

If history continues to repeat itself, then Roy Halladay's move to the National League from the American League may not make him scary good, it could make him horrifying good.

Consider that the Philadelphia Phillie lineup is comparable to any of the American League's top lineups.

It could easily go toe-to-toe with those of the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Rangers.

Combine that with the fact that opposing National League lineup's simply don't score as much as American League ones do, and Halladay could give baseball one of the best seasons for a starting pitcher that we have seen in decades.

To predict a 30 win season may be going a bit overboard. But what the Phillies could potentially get out of Roy Halladay could go above and beyond whatever we saw from him in Toronto (and he was pretty darn good in Toronto).

26 or 27 wins with a sub-2.00 ERA may not be out of the realm of possibility, bringing to mind the likes of pitchers such as Gibson, Koufax, Carlton, and Blyleven. Seriously.

Despite power numbers being down in recent years, we are still very much in an age of the hitter here in 2010.

However, whether you are a Phillies fan or not (I am not), I strongly encourage you to watch as many Phillie games in which Halladay is pitching as you can this season.

Sorry Mets, Braves, Marlins, and Nats. This trade may very well have given us something that many of us have never seen before.

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