Saturday, March 22, 2014

Doc or Dave?

On December 9, 2013, Roy Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and then retired.  Many hailed the move as classy, by both Halladay and the Blue Jays organization.  When I first saw the headline that the Jays has re-signed him, I thought it was to actually play and began wondering about his health.  I'm glad he retired with the Blue Jays, but to be honest, he could have retired with whomever he wanted, I will always consider him a Blue Jay.  And one of the best, at that.

Whenever I think about Halladay's time in Toronto I also think about Dave Stieb's.  I've always wondered how their career numbers stack up.  And since the last chapter appears to have been written in Halladay's career, it's time to go head-to-head with Dave Stieb.

1.  Win-loss and ERA

1997 Bowman Best Roy Halladay
Baseball, like hockey and football are team sports.  Baseball, like hockey and football each have a dedicated position that is generally credited with the wins and blamed for the losses.  In that regard, pitchers share a certain spotlight with goalies and quarterbacks.  It's not always fair, but I guess if you get the glory of the win, you have to accept the risk of having a loss hung on you.

Over 16 years, Dave Stieb compiled a win-loss record of 176-137 which equates to a winning percentage of .562.  His earned run average during that span?  3.44.

Also over 16 years, Roy Halladay compiled a win-loss record of 203-105, which works out to .659 to go along with a career ERA of 3.38.

When considering just their tenures with the Blue Jays, both players are actually better than their career average.  Stieb's winning percentage improves to .566 (175 wins versus 133 losses) and Halladay's goes to .661 (148 wins over 76 losses).  Unlike Halladay, Stieb's ERA over that time also improves to 3.42; Halladay's dips to 3.43.

Based solely on the numbers, I have to give the edge to Halladay.
Moving forward, I'm just going to compare the career totals.

2. Strikeouts and Walks

Another key statistic for pitchers here.  I'm not sure I can get away with comparing these two guys without comparing these stats.  So here goes:

Stieb: 1669 Strikeouts, 1034 walks (36 intentional).
Halladay: 2117 Strikeouts, 592 walks (28 intentional).

Not even close.  Halladay, for the win.

3.  Complete Games and Innings Pitched

1980 Topps Dave Stieb
When it comes to pitching, I'm kind of old school.  I realize the modern game has evolved greatly in the last 90 years, but I like the idea of a pitcher finishing what they started.  These days, with so much money being paid to players, and invested in their development, I understand the business need to protect them and limit their hours.  I don't claim to agree with, or understand, the theories behind rest and limited activity, but it's not my money, so I don't have to.  But I like the workhorses.  The 200-plus inning guys, with complete games.  The guys that finish what they start.  So let's see how Halladay and Stieb compare.

Over his career, Halladay recorded a respectable 67 complete games and pitched 2749.1 innings.  In 8 of his 16 seasons, Halladay eclipsed the 200 inning mark.  Clearly Halladay earned his reputation as a workhorse.

Now consider this:  Stieb, over his career tallied 2895.1 innings accumulating 200-plus innings 9 times.  That alone would earn him the reputation as a workhorse.  But we're not done.  Over 16 seasons, Dave Stieb racked up 103 complete games!

There's not much else to say here.  This one goes to David Stieb, hands down.  Some other time, I'm going to have to head over to to see what some other modern guys complete game stats are (Jack Morris had 175!).

4. Hits and home runs allowed.

Okay, so I realize home runs are hits, but I can't compare hits and ignore home runs (embarassingly, I have to admit that I'm not sure if hits includes home runs; I assume it does).  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was brought back to baseball by McGwire and Sosa's home run chase in 1998.  I still prefer a small ball style of play, but power is power.  Without getting into the drug discussion, watching McGwire hit bombs was entertaining.  Anyway...this is about pitchers.  Pretty sure they aren't as much of a fan as homers in this case.  On to the numbers.

Halladay: 2646 hits surrendered, 236 home runs.
Stieb: 2572 hits surrendered, 225 home runs.

Well, look at that.  Stieb has come back to tie it up.  What a coincidence.  This highly scientific comparison just happens to have one more category left.

5.  Rookie card

You had to know this was coming.  This is a baseball card blog, after all.  And, as I noted in my most recent post, I'm a sucker for rookie cards.  Based on what Beckett defines as a rookie card, I should add.  Now, I apologize for being such an inconsiderate blogger, but I already showed both rookie cards above, trying to break up this mountain of text.  I don't want to show them again, so you'll have to scroll.  While you're still reading, contemplating if you actually want to bother scrolling all of the way back to the top, I'm going to tell you that Stieb wins this category, hands down.  Here are the reasons why:

a.) It's a Topps base product.  I'm from the junk wax generation.  No matter how much cards evolve, I love base sets, and I have grown attached to the likes of Topps, Upper Deck and yes, even Donruss.  Bowman Best is not a base set.  Bowman is, despite their 34-year absence from the hobby, and to be perfectly honest, if I had Halladay's 1997 Bowman "base" card, we'd be comparing that instead.  I also prefer simple designs.

b.) It's an action shot.  Or at least a game shot.  I prefer those to portraits / posed photos every day of the week.  Especially when it's on the field like that and you can see a bit of the stadium and the fans.  Halladay's pose looks unnatural.  His left leg is cut-off, and his right is resting on who-knows-what.  It kind of looks like Halladay is resting is foot on his own name having wedged his toe in behind the 'y'.

c.) Stieb's card has history on its side.  When I sorted through my cards and found the team bag of 1980 Topps, I knew to immediately check for Stieb's card.  I've known it was his rookie for 25 years already.  I stumbled across the Halladay card sorting through ungrouped modern cards and didn't know it was a rookie card until I started ordering the cards by year and had to use Beckett to identify the thing.

6.  The Curve ball

So at this point, it looks like Dave Steib is the winner.  He wins 2 of 4 statistical categories and takes home the 'best rookie card' award, too.  But it's not that easy.  This is where the game turns into Killer Bunnies.  A little bit of game play, a small amount of strategy and logic and then it all boils down to a seemingly random decision to win the game.

Image courtesy of
Halladay has one big advantage:  Timing.  Stieb had departed Toronto long before I was in a position to decide whether or not I was going to watch a Jays game live.  Halladay, however, awful rookie card and all, arrived at the right time.  I've watched Elroy pitch some entertaining-as-hell games.  In 2000, I saw him pitch his second game since being recalled from the minors (a win against the Mets), in 2006 I watched him pitch Opening Day against Johan Santana, another win and spectacular game, and in 2009, I was there to see the Halladay vs. Burnett showdown.  Again, spectacular.

So where does that leave us?  A tie.  It's a dead heat.  I can't chose.  Halladay has won every game I've ever watched him pitch live (there are more than those three, they were just the most memorable).  I never saw Steib pitch live.  Yet, Stieb has some stellar numbers and was the face of this franchise for years.  You can't turn your back on a guy with his pedigree.

In my opinion, the solution is simple:  Add Halladay to the Level of Excellence, let's call them equally awesome, and leave it at that.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Nice Post. I was a big Halladay fan.

  2. Thanks Matt. I have to admit, too, that I was disappointed when he left Toronto, but still hopeful he'd win the WS in Philly.