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Santana not conceding to Halladay (yet)

Well, at least you know he's feeling healthy ...

Let the Phillies have Roy Halladay. Johan Santana said the Mets still have the best pitcher in the National League East.

When asked Thursday who the best pitcher in the division is this year, Santana shrugged and said, "Santana."

Halladay

Halladay

Santana

SantanaWe tend to admire players who are humble, but sometimes their modesty is false and I also admire players who say what they believe, even if what they say is decidedly immodest.

But it's not likely that Santana will be the best pitcher in the National League East in 2010, because of Roy Halladay.

Just looking at their numbers over the last two seasons, they're not really so far apart.

Halladay's got a 2.78 ERA in 485 innings.

Santana's got a 2.78 ERA in 401 innings.

Gee, that's even closer than I thought. Except for the innings. And while few pitchers can match Halladay's durability, Santana has thrown slightly more innings than Halladay over the last five seasons. Santana strikes out more batters, but Halladay gives up fewer home runs. Fundamentally, they've been almost identically brilliant for some years now.

Except for one fundamental thing: Halladay's spent the last two seasons pitching against the best teams in the best division in the best league. Santana hasn't. I think it's fair to suggest that if Roy Halladay had been pitching for the Mets these last two seasons -- as Santana has -- he would have given Tim Lincecum all he could handle in the Cy Young balloting. As good as Santana was in 2008, he wasn't as good as Halladay. And there really wasn't any comparison in 2009.

So we've got two brilliant, Hall of Fame-quality pitchers near the peak of their powers. But one of them has been measurably better in each of the past two seasons, and we should expect him to pitch better next season.