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Remaking the Halladay-Lee comparison, a month later

Aug 25, 2009, 3:05 PM EDT

About a week before the July 31 trading deadline I wrote an article comparing Roy Halladay to Cliff Lee, concluding that “the gap between them hasn’t been as big as most people seem to think and given the likely costs involved in acquiring each player Lee could prove to be a better target.”
Plenty of comments and e-mails disagreed with me, because at the time Halladay was being touted as the ace getting shopped for packages of elite prospects and Lee was viewed as more of an afterthought or fallback plan. Fast forward a month and things have changed quite a bit.
Halladay stayed in Toronto and has gone 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA and .320 opponents’ batting average in five starts since the trading deadline, including getting knocked around for eight runs on a dozen hits last night. Lee was dealt to the Phillies, where he’s gone 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA and .175 opponents’ batting average in five starts, including allowing just two unearned runs over seven innings last night.
All things being equal I’d still probably take Halladay over Lee long term, but the comparison is an example of why focusing strictly on performance rather than getting caught up in name recognition or perceived value can be illuminating. To the average fan Halladay was the big name and the stud pitcher, but in reality his performance was just slightly better than Lee’s during their previous 50 starts.
No one could have known that Halladay would struggle and Lee would be unhittable, but it wasn’t tough to see that the Phillies got a comparable top-of-the-rotation starter for a fraction of what it would have cost to add the bigger name. Toss in the fact that Lee is 15 months younger and will make $8 million next season while Halladay earns $15.75 million and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is looking awfully smart right now.

  1. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Aug 25, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    All things being equal I’d still probably take Halladay over Lee long term, but the comparison is an example of why focusing strictly on performance rather than getting caught up in name recognition or perceived value can be illuminating. To the average fan Halladay was the big name and the stud pitcher, but in reality his performance was just slightly better than Lee’s during their previous 50 starts.
    This isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison though. Through the 5 games, Lee has faced SF, CO, CHC, Ari and NYM. 4/5 of those teams are in the bottom 10 of both runs scored and OPS. Meanwhile Halladay has faced the NYY, Bos, Bal and TB twice. 3/4 of those are in the top 5 in runs and OPS.
    Yes Lee has done well and Halladay has struggled, but Halladay isn’t as bad as he’s been while facing far superior competition. And Lee isn’t as good facing far worse.

  2. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Aug 25, 2009 at 3:18 PM

    All things being equal I’d still probably take Halladay over Lee long term, but the comparison is an example of why focusing strictly on performance rather than getting caught up in name recognition or perceived value can be illuminating. To the average fan Halladay was the big name and the stud pitcher, but in reality his performance was just slightly better than Lee’s during their previous 50 starts.
    This isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison though. Through the 5 games, Lee has faced SF, CO, CHC, Ari and NYM. 4/5 of those teams are in the bottom 10 of both runs scored and OPS. Meanwhile Halladay has faced the NYY, Bos, Bal and TB twice. 3/4 of those are in the top 5 in runs and OPS.
    Yes Lee has done well and Halladay has struggled, but Halladay isn’t as bad as he’s been while facing far superior competition. And Lee isn’t as good facing far worse.

  3. Grant - Aug 25, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    Agreed. The AL vs. NL is a significant difference. Halladay would almost certainly have been better in the NL. As is everyone.

  4. Gregory Despain - Jan 28, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Great blog, although I think some of the stuff on itt is a little pre used lol.

  5. online stock trading - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    Hey, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, anyway cool blog, I bookmarked you. :)

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