Sep 20, 2013, 1:25 PM EST
Andy Pettitte was never a dominant starter. That’s pretty much indisputable.
In 18 big-league seasons, Pettitte has never won a Cy Young Award, an ERA title or a strikeout crown. The only “black ink” on his Baseball-Reference page comes from the three times he led or shared his league lead in games started. He’s thrown four career shutouts, which is one more than Justin Masterson has this year.
Yet here he is. As he retires for a second time, he leaves MLB as the active leader in wins with 255 and strikeouts with 2,437 and the all-time leader with 19 postseason victories.
So, yeah, Pettitte’s Hall of Fame case is based largely on wins, which should lead to a great deal of skepticism given that he spent most of his career pitching for baseball’s most successful franchise. Among pitchers with at least 300 decisions since 1901, Pettitte ranks 16th with a .627 winning percentage, ahead of obvious Hall of Famers like Tom Seaver, Carl Hubbell, Warren Spahn, Bob Gibson and even Walter Johnson. Make the cutoff 400 decisions instead and Pettitte jumps all of the way to eighth on the list.
One could argue that says as much about the Yankees as it does about Pettitte.
On the other hand, it might surprise people to see Pettitte currently sitting with a 117 ERA+. That’s not Jack Morris territory (he’s at 105). That’s squarely in the Hall of Fame range. Baseball-reference’s Play Index gives us 51 Hall of Fame starting pitchers since 1901. Pettitte’s ERA would sit right along sign Gaylord Perry at No. 30 in that group. It’s better than Steve Carlton and Fergie Jenkins at 115. It’s much better than Don Sutton’s 108. It’s just below Bert Blyleven at 118.
Of course, Pettitte didn’t pitch as much as those guys. Jenkins has the low innings total of that group at 4,500. Pettitte is currently at 3,300. And given that modest innings total, one would certainly like to see more dominance than Pettitte offers.
Going by Baseball-Reference’s WAR, Pettitte’s 60.4 puts him right around Hall of Famers Juan Marichal (61.8), Jim Bunning (60.5) and Hal Newhouser (60.4) and ahead of guys like Whitey Ford (53.9), Early Wynn (51.6) and Catfish Hunter (36.5). But it also ranks behind non-Hall of Famers like Kevin Brown (68.7), Rick Reuschel (68.2), Luis Tiant (65.9) and David Cone (61.8). WAR rates question marks Mike Mussina (82.7) and Curt Schilling (80.7) as much more deserving.
So, Pettitte’s Hall of Fame case largely comes down to two things: the postseason and doping. Some will disqualify him automatically based on his admitted hGH use. I think that’s a discussion for a different time, though. The postseason is of more interest to me here. Pettitte clearly deserves some sort of boost for making 44 postseason starts and going 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA. He has five World Series rings, and he wasn’t a bystander for any of them.
How much credit is the tough part. I’m sympathetic to both sides of the argument. If Pettitte had been drafted by any team other than the Yankees, it’d doubtful he’d have any Hall of Fame case right now. His career is hardly any different than Chuck Finley’s.
On the other hand, Pettitte made the most of the opportunities he was given. And he’s pitched the equivalent of an extra season and a third. Would Pettitte’s regular-season numbers look better if he didn’t so often make an extra five or six starts in October? I think they probably would.
Personally, I think Pettitte still comes up short. I like my Hall of Famers to have higher peaks — to have been among the best players in their leagues, even if only for a couple of years. But it’s unfair to dismiss his case as just being Yankee hype. He has a better argument than Jack Morris, and there are certainly worse pitchers enshrined already. But there are better ones to pick from, too.
Dec 7, 2013, 6:50 PM EST
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that the Giants have considered free agent Mike Morse to fill their left field vacancy, but they think they can do a better job making a trade. Schulman added that he would not be surprised if the team made a trade over the upcoming winter meetings. Morse…
Dec 7, 2013, 6:05 PM EST
In what has become an annual tradition, rumors have begun to swirl suggesting Reds closer Aroldis Chapman could move into the starting rotation. The lefty has ranked among baseball’s top-five relievers over each of the past two seasons, but he would theoretically provide more value in the rotation. Neither the team nor Chapman is interested…
Dec 7, 2013, 5:32 PM EST
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins have had “internal discussions” about a trade for Rays utility man Sean Rodriguez. The plan would be to play him at third base, possibly as part of a platoon. The Marlins are reportedly close to a two-year, $7.5 million contract with Garrett Jones, which likely signals that…
Dec 7, 2013, 4:56 PM EST
One day after inking right-handed starter Scott Feldman to a three-year, $30 million contract, the Astros have signed veteran reliever Chad Qualls to a two-year deal with a club option for 2016. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Qualls will make $6 million guaranteed in the deal while the option is worth $3.5 million. Qualls,…
Dec 7, 2013, 4:34 PM EST
Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the United States into World War II. Murphy’s Bleachers, a popular bar outside Wrigley Field in Chicago, decided to remember that tragic day with this unfortunate and tasteless sign: Not the way to remember a tragedy. http://t.co/JZk8kxFwYM— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) December 07,…
Dec 7, 2013, 3:09 PM EST
With last night’s signing of Carlos Beltran, the Yankees officially have a surplus of outfielders. And more than a few teams are wondering if they would consider cashing in on that depth in order to upgrade in other areas. Source: Yankees receiving significant interest in Brett Gardner and willing to trade him. They're not shopping…
Dec 7, 2013, 2:10 PM EST
It was reported two weeks ago that the Red Sox had checked in on the availability of Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that he remains “in play” as a potential trade target for Boston. A potential match makes sense on paper, as the Dodgers have a surplus of…
Dec 7, 2013, 1:05 PM EST
Now that second baseman Robinson Cano has reportedly accepted a 10-year, $240 million contract to leave the Yankees for the Mariners, we can open the floodgates on some anonymously-sourced bad-mouthing. We have our first such story from the Cano side of things, courtesy of George A. King III of the New York Post: “Robbie didn’t…
Dec 7, 2013, 12:03 PM EST
Athletics’ left-hander Brett Anderson is a very popular name on the trade market and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that the Rockies are the latest team to ask about him. The two teams had discussions about Anderson yesterday, but Rosenthal hears that they were unable to find a match on a deal. Talks are unlikely…
Dec 7, 2013, 11:01 AM EST
UPDATE: Hanley Ramirez‘s agent tells Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that his client posted the photo on Instagram as a joke and was actually flying to the Dominican Republic. In other words, a contract extension is not imminent. Hey, at least we know that Ramirez has an interesting sense of humor. 11:01 a.m. ET: Hanley Ramirez…
Dec 7, 2013, 10:05 AM EST
Attached to draft pick compensation, right-hander Kyle Lohse waited out the entire winter before eventually landing a three-year, $33 million contract from the Brewers in March. A Scott Boras client, he was reportedly aiming for a three-year, $45 million deal at the start of the offseason, but his market was severely limited due to the…
Dec 7, 2013, 8:58 AM EST
Carlos Beltran has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract with the Yankees and word is that he took less money for the opportunity to play in pinstripes. According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks made a “strong, under-the-radar push” to sign Beltran, offering him more than three years and $45…
Dec 6, 2013, 11:05 PM EST
Beleaguered free agent Joba Chamberlain is drawing interest from the Cubs and Royals, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Chamberlain, 28, has been ravaged by injuries over the last three seasons. In June 2011, Chamberlain was knocked out for the rest of the season with an elbow injury, eventually undergoing Tommy John…
Dec 6, 2013, 10:20 PM EST
The Marlins signed Garrett Jones to a two-year, $7.5 million deal this afternoon, effectively squeezing Logan Morrison out. Instantly, rumors began to fly involving Morrison in a potential trade. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Red Sox and Brewers have checked in, though nothing is imminent. Morrison has had trouble staying on the…
Dec 6, 2013, 9:50 PM EST
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News is reporting that the Yankees have signed free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran to a three-year deal. Beltran will turn 37 on April 24, so the contract will span his age 37-39 seasons. After a pair of injury-shortened seasons in 2009 and ’10, Beltran has shown lately that…
Dec 6, 2013, 9:20 PM EST
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the Red Sox are bringing Mike Napoli back. They have signed the 32-year-old first baseman to a two-year, $32 million deal, adding to what has been yet another exciting day of hot stove action across baseball. It’s quite the raise from last season’s one-year, $5 million deal (though…
Dec 6, 2013, 9:00 PM EST
When it was announced that the Brewers had acquired lefty hurler Will Smith from the Royals for outfielder Norichika Aoki, the Internet was rife with Fresh Prince jokes, for the baseball player shares the same name as the star of the hit ’90′s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Smith has heard the references plenty…
Dec 6, 2013, 8:10 PM EST
The Mets made their big off-season move earlier today, signing free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million deal. GM Sandy Alderson had promised to make some news, especially compared to the prior off-season when the Mets were among the least active teams. Per Newsday’s Marc Carig on Twitter, Alderson had some assistance…
Dec 6, 2013, 7:20 PM EST
Earlier today, second baseman Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners on a ten-year, $240 million contract, leaving the Yankees out in the cold with an infield that includes the embattled Alex Rodriguez, the hobbled Derek Jeter, the recovering Mark Teixeira, and the recently-signed Kelly Johnson. Now that they don’t have to set aside space for…
Dec 6, 2013, 6:30 PM EST
Despite a solid showing in a limited sample of innings at the end of the 2013 regular season and in the post-season with the Cardinals, reliever John Axford was non-tendered as he was set to earn at least $4 million following back-to-back poor seasons with the Brewers and falling out of the closer’s role. MLB’s…
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