Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Does Santana have edge over Halladay?

Who has the better ace -- the Phillies of the Mets? Johan Santana thinks he knows the answer.

Does Santana have edge over Halladay?

AP Photos

Who's the best pitcher in the National League East?

"Santana ... simple."

That was the response from Mets ace Johan Santana today at spring training, per Marty Noble of mlb.com.

But is he right? There's no question that Roy Halladay and Santana are among a handful of pitchers who can make the case as the best in the game. One right-handed, one left-handed. Both with Cy Young awards to their credit (though Santana has two to Halladay's one). And both proven workhorses. They were two of the best American League pitchers of the last decade, and now they're both in the NL East.

More coverage
VOTE: Which Phillie has the brightest future?
POLL: What has you excited about the Phillies?
Follow the Phillies: Download our FREE Pro Baseball app!
Buy Phillies jerseys and other gear
WATCH: Daily fantasy baseball updates
Who is the better ace, Halladay or Santana?
Roy Halladay
  300 (81.3%)
Johan Santana
  20 (5.4%)
It's a push - they're both great
  53 (14.4%)
Total votes = 369

But who is the better ace?


Halladay broke into the Blue Jays' rotation in 2002, and in his first year as a full-time starter was named to the All-Star team, while throwing a league-leading 239.1 innings. Whoa.

In his second year, Halladay won the Cy Young after starting 36 games, winning 22 of them and leading the league in innings pitched again (266).

Santana's first full year in the Twins' rotation was 2004, and he led the league in ERA, strikeouts and WHIP on his way to winning the Cy Young award. Double-whoa.

So they both started strong, but 2004 was a long time ago (was Cole Hamels even born yet?). Let's look at their stats the last five years (2005-2009):

  Halladay Santana
Record 81-37 79-42
ERA 3.01 2.91
Innings 1072 1085.1
WHIP 1.106 1.072
K/9 innings 6.7 8.9

In those five years, Halladay led his league in innings pitched once, while Santana did it twice. Santana led in ERA twice, while Halladay doesn't have any ERA crowns. Santana also led his league in strikeouts twice and WHIP three times, with Halladay leading in WHIP once over that stretch.

Halladay had 34 complete games though, compared to eight by Santana. 

Santana had a lower ERA and WHIP, more strikeouts and more innings pitched. These stats don't take into account level of competition, however. While Santana was beating up on the AL Central, Halladay had to face the Yankees and Red Sox 8-to-10 times a year.

Then again, Santana pitched extemely well in the postseason for the Twins, going 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 20 innings, while Halladay has never thrown a pitch in the playoffs.

It's still basically a tossup, but I guess I would take Santana's dominating strikeout totals and postseason experience over Halladay's complete games and tough competition.

Advantage: Santana

The right fits

Santana is much more of a strikeout pitcher than Halladay, but he is also much more vulnerable to the long ball. Over that five-year stretch, he averaged 1.0 HR/9 innings, while Halladay did a much better job keeping the ball in the park, averaging just 0.7 HR/9 innings. Santana even led his league in homers allowed in 2007. He's a fly-ball pitcher (0.67 career ground ball/fly ball ratio), while Halladay is, as they say, a worm-killer (1.21 career GB/FB).

This makes Santana a good fit in the power-depressed Citi Field, and Halladay a good fit in the more homer-prone Citizens Bank Park. If I was Omar Minaya, I'd want Santana. If I was Ruben Amaro Jr., I'd want Halladay.

Advantage: Push


It takes a lot to make $60 million look like a bargain, but the Phillies did it when they signed Halladay to a three-year contract extension. Santana, on the other hand, signed what was at the time the richest-ever contract for a pitcher -- $137.5 million over six years. Santana is two years younger, but Halladay has shown no signs of slowing down as he enters his mid-30s. Halladay is a bargain, and Santana is pitching up to his contract.

Advantage: Halladay.

Looking ahead

Over the next few years, this could turn into the best pitching rivalry in baseball, especially if the Mets find a way to be competitive again. Santana has pitched great for New York, but Halladay has the better supporting cast.

So I've laid out the arguments. Now it's your turn. Who is the better ace?

Dave Merrell is a web producer at Philly.com and can be reached at dmerrell@philly.com.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Pattison Ave. offers an eclectic mix of news and nuggets about Philadelphia sports and beyond. Live chats, analysis, random thoughts, viral videos, odds and ends -- you'll find it all here.

Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
Jerry Gaul Sports Producer
Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
Justin Klugh Sports Producer
Andrew Albert Sports Producer
Ryan Venezia Sports Producer
Rob Tornoe Sports Cartoonist
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter