Roy Halladay is a Hall of Fame pitcher. I don't think that can be disputed. But I think Halladay should get special dispensation to become a 2018 Hall of Fame pitcher.
As of right now, Halladay is not yet eligible for induction. The current rules for eligibility were set in 1954. Players must be retired for five full seasons to be eligible for induction. If a player passes away before becoming eligible, he must be dead for six months before appearing on a ballot.
Only once since 1954 was an exception made: Roberto Clemente was inducted in 1973, after dying in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972.
When the balloting takes place later this month, I believe that exception should be made again, for Halladay.
Halladay's death earlier this week hit the Philadelphia sports community hard, myself included. As someone who remembers watching Steve Carlton pitch at the Vet as a child, I was excited when the Phillies traded for Doc before the 2010 season, and bought a partial season ticket plan for the first time. Every time he pitched was appointment viewing, and he delivered, night after night.
Although Phillies fans saw only two seasons of Halladay's excellence on the mound, his prime lasted a decade — the 2002 through 2011 seasons. Here are Halladay's ranks among all MLB pitchers during that span:
• 170 wins (1st)
• .694 win percentage (1st)
• 63 complete games (1st - by 30!)
• 18 shutouts (1st)
• 4.57 K/BB ratio (1st)
• 2.97 ERA (2nd)
• 148 ERA+ (2nd) — this means his ERA over that span was 48 percent better than league-average
• 2194⅔ innings (2nd)
He also made eight All-Star teams, won two Cy Young Awards, and he finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting seven times in that 10-year span.
From 1995-2017, Halladay has more complete games that any pitcher (67). Here's the thing: Halladay only pitched from 1998 through 2013.
Being the best pitcher in baseball for a season is a feat. Being the best pitcher in baseball for an entire decade is something that is truly special. We all remember how great Tim Lincecum was at the start of his career. He also won two Cy Youngs. He didn't even make it to 10 full seasons in the big leagues before a degenerative hip injury derailed his career.
The end of Roy Halladay's baseball career, and his life, occurred far, far too soon. Voting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this month would not be.