Sep 20, 2013, 1:25 PM EDT
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.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:40 AM EDT
Behold, one of the worst “hot takes” you’ll see.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
My first take: cautious optimism.
Oct 1, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
Adam Dunn has no problem with not playing last night. And, apparently, does not plan to play again.
Oct 1, 2014, 9:02 AM EDT
He says it will allow athletes a place to talk with “no filter.” In reality, it’s likely to have way, way more filters than what currently exist.
Oct 1, 2014, 8:29 AM EDT
Bumgarner vs. Volquez is, on paper anyway, something of a mismatch. But as we saw in last night’s game, predicting these things is a fool’s errand.
Oct 1, 2014, 7:36 AM EDT
And Pedro Martinez absolutely roasts Yost for that.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:02 AM EDT
Yost’s controversial call fails to doom Royals after all.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:44 AM EDT
In-game losses left the A’s undermanned in defeat.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:29 AM EDT
In case you missed it, here is the replay of Salvador Perez’s walkoff hit from Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game …
Oct 1, 2014, 1:25 AM EDT
You get a bunt and you get a bunt and you get a bunt!
Oct 1, 2014, 1:10 AM EDT
Salvador Perez was held hitless in his first five at-bats of Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, but he smacked a walkoff RBI single down the left-field line in the 12th inning to give the Royals a 9-8 victory over the A’s.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT
A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was removed from Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game before the bottom of the 11th inning with an apparent hamstring injury.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:49 PM EDT
We’ve got a brand new ballgame in Kansas City.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:53 PM EDT
Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will test his injured shoulder in a simulated game Wednesday. He’s hoping to start Game 3 of the NLDS in St. Louis.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT
Oakland opened the floodgates on the Royals in the sixth inning.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Watch the host Royals take the lead in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game against the visiting A’s on this RBI bloop single from Eric Hosmer in the bottom of the third inning …
Sep 30, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
Derek Norris came off the bench to replace him.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
Angels starter Matt Shoemaker hasn’t pitched in a game since September 15 due to a left oblique strain, but he is making steady progress behind the scenes and expects to be available for the ALDS.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT
Braves hitting coach Greg Walker officially stepped down on Tuesday evening, as announced on the club’s Twitter feed.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT
Ishikawa is 31 years old and has started a grand total of three career games in the outfield.
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