We all know Doc is a very good pitcher. He is a good pitcher because he puts a lot of batters out. This, however, does not help people appreciate the whys and hows this is accomplished.
Last year I wanted to explain some things by creating a nice, data-filled breakdown of each of his pitches, and explained some other factors about their usage that may also make them more effective individually.
However, Doc is really, really, difficult to break down. I flamed out and couldn't manage the pace, as each individual start would throw me for a loop.
So, I decided to nix the graphs, and the start-by start breakdown and just post the conclusions.
Roy Halladay throws at least four basic pitches, a sinker, a cutter, a curveball, and a changeup.
The sinker and the cutter were used in 2010 as two complimentary pitches. They were both standard pitches intended to induce weak contact, be it a pop-up or groundball, with more groundballs. They work either edge, and break in opposite directions, and they were thrown in about equal numbers. They provide a solid baseline for off-speed pitches to help with.
Overall, the cutter is better, as more pop-ups and more whiffs with good groundballs is slightly better than the fewer whiffs and more groundballs the sinker gets. The usage of more cutters is why his groundball rates are down from years ago.
The curveball has been present in his pitch arsenal since early on in his career, and gets both a lot of whiffs and is very well controlled, particularly for a curveball. There are very few curveballs in the league with a comparable amount of control, and Doc can even choose spots with it, sometimes going for the strike zone, and sometimes going for out of the strike zone. I cannot say he has more control than that, as all curveballs miss quite a bit, but even 'more' in the zone against 'less' in the zone is impressive. A curveball that gets in the zone often and produces a lot of whiffs? Yes please.
His changeup was the new toy last year. It worked out well, being a whiff machine like the curveball, while being both significantly faster than it, easier to control than the curveball, while still maintaining a large speed difference than both fastballs. The biggest problem was that it wasn't available all year. Many starts he didn't throw it at all, only throwing a few changeups that were more reminiscent of the changeups he used in 2007-2009, than the 2010 version. If he has it all year long, he should be able to match last years numbers.
In summary, Doc is good because he's good from all angles. He has a lot of deceptive pitches, a lot of pitches at different speeds, angles, locations, and pitch movements. He gets a lot of popups, groundballs, and Ks, while minimizing walks. The individual pitches in themselves are excellent but not unbelievable, but combined they're more than enough to dominate batters. The depth comes in handy for the days when one or more of his pitches is not working. I can't wait to see what the next development in his career is.
And you've got him signed through 2013.