Johan and Halladay: Breaking Down The Best Starters Of The Decade

Sergio ValdezContributor IIMay 13, 2010

     Johan Santana and Roy Halladay are two of the better pitchers in baseball. That is established. Santana has two Cy Youngs to his name, in 2004 and 2006, and Roy Halladay has one, in 2003. Both pitched in the AL in the beginnings of their careers. Johan moved to the senior circuit in 2008, and Roy "Doc" Halladay followed suit in 2010. With the Mets game postponed today, it is possible these two match up on Sunday, May 2nd. Even if they don't, with Halladay a Phillie and Santana a Met it is inevitable they will face each other at some point. So I've decided to see who has had the better career thus far.


     Johan Santana has pitched 1734.0 innings in his illustrious career. He has a career 3.11 ERA, and a nifty 9.1 K/9 rate. He also sports a solid 1.113 WHIP and 3.66 strikeouts per walk allowed. He hasn't been all too hittable in his career, allowing 1451 hits in his career, or about 7.5 per nine. For those who care about wins and losses, The Johan has 124 victories and merely 61 losses, or a .670 winning percentage, which is tops amongst active hurlers. He has a 143 career ERA+, which puts him above such greats as Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux. He has 45.0 WARP according to BaseballProspectus, and a career 3.37 FIP. He is also an extremely consistent pitcher. He regularly strands about 80% of baserunners and albeit he has a high home run rate, he is so good that many of these are solo home runs. He allowed 23 home runs in 2008 in his first year as a New York Met, but 18 of them were solo shots. He has seen a precipitous drop in velocity as of late, but his results haven't begun to decline all too much, so it isn't too concerning yet.


     Roy Halladay has pitched 2079.2 innings in his magnificent career. He has a career 3.39 ERA, and has fifty-one complete games, the most among active pitchers. In his four 2010 starts, he has thrown all but three possible innings, with a 0.82 EA. He is filthy good. He isn't overpowering with just a 6.6 K/9 rate, but by walking half a batter fewer per nine than Johan, he is rather equally efficient. He has a career 135 ERA+, 1.193 WHIP, 3.45 FIP, and 47.2 WARP. He has 152 wins and 76 losses, or pretty much the same ratio as Johan, who is two wins above the 2:1 Roy sits at. I think Santana has had the better career so far, but both will end up in baseball's Hall of Fame.


     Some people may think career stats are irrelevant. I mentioned Johan has seen a precipitous drop in his average velocity as of late. He throws that fastball slightly less than in prior years, and it has lost a few ticks- it's down to 89.7 now, after being at 90.5 one year ago. Johan is known for his changeup though, and his changeup usage has spiked so that could compensate. Halladay has, thus far in 2010, thrown his fastball a tick or two harder than ever. What does this mean? Who knows.


A season by season analysis could bring me to a different conclusion about who is better right now, which I think is Halladay.

     Johan's first real year was 2002, so let us start there:



Johan: 2.99 ERA, 2.98 tERA, 3.35 xFIP, 2.66 FIP, 11.4 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 1.228 WHIP, ~110 IP

Doc: 2.93 ERA, 3.64 tERA, 3.31 xFIP, 2.97 FIP, 6.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.191 WHIP, ~240 IP

     So, their rates look pretty similar. Neither varied particularly far from his FIP or tERA in terms of ERA. Doc fanned far fewer batted per nine but walks nearly half per nine. Halladay had about 130 more innings though. He's obviously better because of this.




Johan: 3.07 ERA, 3.85 tERA, 3.57 xFIP, 3.24 FIP, 9.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.099 WHIP, ~160 IP

Doc: 3.25 ERA, 3.79 tERA, 2.89 xFIP, 3.23 FIP, 6.9 K/9, 1.1 BB/9, 1.071 WHIP, ~265 IP

Halladay trails, slightly, in ERA, significantly in K/9, has a significant lead in BB rate, xFIP, and innings, but also has a miniscule advantage in tERA and WHIP, to accompany a draw in FIP. Halladay had the better season.




Johan: 2.61 ERA, 2.80 tERA, 2.95 xFIP, 2.92 FIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.921 WHIP, ~230 IP

Doc: 4.20 ERA, 3.72 tERA, 3.66 xFIP, 3.79 FIP, 6.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.346 WHIP, 133 IP

Johan obviously leads here. He had a gigantic lead in ERA, tERA, xFIP, FIP, K/9, BB/9, WHIP, all with 95 more innings.




Johan: 2.87 ERA, 2.80 tERA, 3.10 xFIP, 2.80 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 0.971 WHIP, ~230 IP

Doc: 2.41 ERA, 3.42 tERA, 2.88 xFIP, 3.03 FIP, 6.9 K/9, 1.1 BB/9, 0.960 WHIP, ~140 IP

With roughly 90 more innings, The Johan blew Doc out of the water in K rate and tERA, had a decently better FIP, a decently worse xFIP, a .046 disadvantage in ERA, a miniscule WHIP deficit, and a slightly worse BB rate.




Johan: 2.77 ERA, 3.12 tERA, 3.12 xFIP, 3.04 FIP, 9.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 0.997 WHIP, ~230 IP.

Doc: 3.19 ERA, 4.15 tERA, 3.42 xFIP, 3.60 FIP, 5.4 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 1.100 WHIP, 220 IP.

With a small innings advantage- almost negligible- The Johan had a better ERA, a MUCH better tERA, a significantly better xFIP, a significantly better FIP, a monstrously better K rate, a slightly worse BB rate, and a WHIP that was one full point better. Santana was better, for the third time in three years.




Johan: 2.83 ERA, 960 IP, 1.016 WHIP, 160 ERA+, 9.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9

Doc: 3.17 ERA, 1000 IP, 1.127 WHIP, 147 ERA+, 6.4 K/9, 1.7 BB/9

I do not think Halladay's 40 inning advantage and .6 BB rate lead outweigh Johan's ERA+, K rate, WHIP, and ERA advantages. I think Johan was better.




Johan: 3.33 ERA, 3.67 tERA, 3.43 xFIP, 3.82 FIP, 9.7 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.073 WHIP, ~220 IP

Doc: 3.71 ERA, 3.57 tERA, 3.96 xFIP, 3.55 FIP, 5.6 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 1.243 WHIP, ~225 IP

Johan and Doc are a draw on innings, and nearly a draw on BB rate and tERA. The Johan leads in ERA, xFIP, K rate, and WHIP, while Halladay leads in merely FIP. I think Johan was better.




Johan: 2.53 ERA, 3.88 tERA, 3.66 xFIP, 3.51 FIP, 7.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.148 WHIP, ~235 IP

Doc: 2.78 ERA, 3.32 tERA, 3.14 xFIP, 3.03 FIP, 7.5 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 1.053 WHIP, ~245 IP

This is the closest season in the mainstream stats thus far, but Halladay has The Johan beat in WHIP, tERA, xFIP, FIP, BB/9, and innings. Johan has a lower ERA and a lishglty higher K rate, but he also pitched in the NL East and not the AL East.




Johan: 3.13 ERA, 3.49 tERA, 4.13 xFIP, 3.79 FIP, 7.9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.212 WHIP, ~165 IP

Doc: 2.79 ERA, 3.41 tERA, 3.05 xFIP, 3.06 FIP, 7.8 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 1.126 WHIP, ~240 IP

Halladay had a lower ERA in the harder league, a lower FIP, a lower BB rate, and equal K rate, 75 more innings, a lower xFIP, a lower WHIP, and a near-equal tERA.





Fastball: 91, 91.7, 92.4, 92.4, 93.1, 91.7, 91.2, 90.5, 89.7. His usage stays steady in the mid-high 50% range.

Slider: 80.1, 82.0, 83.0, 83.8, 84.9, 84.9, 83.5, 82.4, 81.6. His usage sank in 2009 below 10% for the first time in his career.

Changeup: 79.7, 79.1, 78.3, 80.6, 81.8, 81.9, 80.0, 81.5, 80.0. His usage sist at 31 % and 31.2 % in 2009 and 2010.



Fastball: 91.7, 92.3, 92.2, 92.6, 91.2, 91.1, 92.7, 92.6, 92.9. His velocity has stayed relatively constant throughout his entire career, but his usage fluctuates heavily.

Cutter: 90.6, 91.4, 89.5, 89.8, 90.3, 91.2, 92.0. He never used it in the beginning of his career, but used it more than two of five times in 2009.

Curveball: 77.9, 77.2, 76.8, 77.1, 77.4, 77.7, 77.7, 78.6, 78.3. His velocity is always around 77.5 miles per hour, and his usage is relatively steady, at or around 21-25 % of his pitches.

Changeup: 82.4, 81.0, 83.6, 84.7, 83.2, 83.3, 84.8, 85.4, 84.0. He rarely uses it, except in 2010, where he has used it 11ish percent of the time, with fantastic success. Maybe it's part of the reason he has been successful thus far with that sparkling 0.82 ERA.


This entry basically breaks down Johan Santana and Roy Halladay, two of baseball's best pitchers, and, in my opinion, two future Hall of Famers.


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