LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - If the true measure of a man comes from what his friends and co-workers say about him, Roy Halladay is a pretty complete person, let alone baseball player. He is as revered as any athlete to play in Philadelphia in the last quarter century.
In the hour or so after Halladay's retirement became official yesterday, an outpouring of support and well wishes found its way to Walt Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort, site of baseball's winter meetings, where Halladay said goodbye to the game.
From the guys that shared a rotation with him, like Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick, to former teammates like Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez, nearly everyone he played with chimed in.
The one constant in nearly every one of their messages: Roy Halladay was the best starting pitcher of his era. Which means Halladay will eventually have a plaque in the hallowed halls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, right?
"Hands down, he was the best pitcher of this era and a first ballot Hall of Famer," former teammate Roy Oswalt said.
Looking at Halladay's four seasons with the Phillies is far from the best way to examine his career.
He had two of the best seasons of his 16-year career in 2010 and 2011, his first 2 years in Philly: 40-16 with a 2.40 ERA in 65 starts. Then he had two injury-ravaged seasons that were simply hard to watch: a 5.15 ERA in 38 starts.
Perhaps the best way to take stock of a player's Hall-worthiness is to look at their body of work over a decade-long period, judging them against their peers.
From 1984 to '93, Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg made 10 straight All-Star teams, won eight Gold Gloves and seven Silver Slugger Awards. He hit .296 with an .835 OPS, 225 home runs, 282 doubles and 254 stolen bases in 1,495 games over that time period.
Sandberg, now the Phillies manager, was indisputably the best second baseman in baseball over that decade-long period. He's in the Hall of Fame.
"If he was one of the dominant righthanded pitchers for a 10-year period," Sandberg said of Halladay's candidacy, "that's a criteria."
In the 11-year period from 2001 to '11, Halladay was 175-78 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 64 complete games and 19 shutouts in 321 games. Translation: In addition to a startling stat line, Halladay completed 20 percent of the games he started during that stretch.
For a frame of reference, here is how four of his peers would stack up over similar runs in their own careers:
* CC Sabathia, in his last 11 seasons: 175-99, 3.47 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 35 complete games and 12 shutouts in 349 games.
* Johan Santana's first 11 seasons, from 2000-10: 133-69, 3.10 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 13 complete games and eight shutouts in 339 games (263 starts).
* Roy Oswalt's first 11 seasons, from 2001-11: 159-93, 3.21 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 20 complete games, eight shutouts in 339 games.
* Cliff Lee's last 11 seasons: 139-85, 3.52 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 28 complete games and 12 shutouts in 313 games.
"If you look at Roy's numbers," said former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, "having played in the AL East all those years, winning two Cy Youngs, pitching a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter, he should absolutely get strong consideration for the Hall of Fame."
Although Halladay only had two chances to pitch in the playoffs, Sandberg believes Halladay's success in that period will only help his case. Halladay pitched the second postseason no-hitter in his first career playoff start and went 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA in five postseason starts.
"I think his high visibility that he had and the meaningful games he had in the postseason, he came through," Sandberg said. "I think it'll go a long way. Along with being the full-package guy on and off the field. The consummate professional. I think it'll be interesting. But I think he'll have a shot at the Hall of Fame. And of the last 10 years, he's a guy thats up there."