A pitcher doesn't have to be on a World Series championship team in order to be considered the best hurler in the major leagues during any one season, or during the combination of years in his entire career. Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay proved that point when he retired this week.
Some will rightfully counter the point above by raising the great name of New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, who is the greatest reliever of all-time and an obvious first ballot Hall of Famer. Those hardcore souls will passionately declare that 'The Sandman' was better than 'Doc'.
It's fair to suggest that starting pitchers and relievers, especially closers, can't be equally compared. However, the amount of innings and subsequently, batters, a sharp starter retires during each game does matter.
Ask the staff of any successful general manager which young pitcher they would suggest obtaining for their staff and it's likely that Halladay's name would be mentioned more often than Rivera's.
After appearing in two games in 1998, Halladay threw in 15 full big-league seasons.
He won the Cy Young Award in both Leagues. He finished second in the Cy Young voting twice, third once and fifth twice. To secure that pitching prize point: That means that Halladay ranked among the top pitchers in his League during nearly half his career.
He completed 67 games, including 20 shutouts, during this era of specialized relievers. He also threw a perfect regular season game and a no-hitter in his first playoff game.
His career regular season WHIP was 1.178. His career playoff WHIP was 0.737.
Old school statistics still matter, despite what most sabermatricians believe. Halladay's presence on the mound (regular and playoff years combined) inspired his team to create 206 wins, verses 107 losses, for him during his career.
Harry Leroy Halladay pitched like he was the greatest pitcher of his generation because he was the greatest pitcher of his generation. He will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame after a first ballot vote hence forth.