The Baseball world was aflame today with the news that Andy Pettitte had decided to retire. Almost as soon as the news was made official, arguments on whether or not Pettitte is a Hall of Famer have started. Before I go into that debate, let me throw out some statistics for Pettitte.
In a 16-year career with the New York Yankees and Houston Astros (1995-2010) Pettitte is a career 240-138 with a 3.88 ERA in 493 games (479 starts). According to the twitter post of the Yankees PR Department, in the Postseason, Pettitte is a major league leading 19-10 with a 3.83. ERA in a major league high 42 starts including the memorable 1-0 duel against John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series. Pettitte also ranks first in postseason starts, innings pitched with 263 and is tied for second (with Roger Clemens) in strikeouts with 173 (John Smoltz is first with 199)
In 13 seasons with the New York Yankees, Pettitte went 203-112 with a 3.98 ERA in 2,535.2 IP with 1,823 K in 405 games, of which he started 396. In terms of Yankees franchise history, Pettitte ranks second in strikeouts and starts, third in wins, fourth in innings pitched and eight in total appearances (405).
In his 3 seasons with the Houston Astros, Pettitte went 37-26 with a ERA in 84 games, of which he started 83. His best season with the Astros was the 2005 in which the Astros made their first World Series. Pettitte went 17-9 2.39 ERA in 33 games started.
So where does Pettitte stand in the debate for the Hall of Fame. I believe the main issue for some of the voters will be Pettitte admitting to using the banned substance Human growth hormone (HGH) in 2007 (For injuries sustained to his elbow in 2002 before HGH was banned). Some won't vote for him on that basis alone. But for those who would choose to disregard that (like I probably would if I had a vote) then things get trickier.
There's no denying Pettitte's value to the teams he played for especially in the postseason. I can see the arguments being made comparing Pettitte to Jack Morris and Curt Schilling in terms of how their postseason performances help their Hall of Fame chances. In addition, Pettitte's 240 wins has him tied for 55th All-time with Frank Tanana and Pettitte ranks ted for 13th (also with Frank Tanana) as a left-handed pitcher puts him at which places him in very exclusive company (just behind the likes of Hall of Famers Carl Hubbel 253 and Herb Pennock 241). But does that make him a Hall of Famer?
Honestly, I don't know. For as good as Pettitte was, he's is seen as being a pitcher that was never the "Ace" of the staff, he never won the Cy Young award (though he did ranks in the top 5, five times) and though I think reaching the magical number of 300 wins will become harder to reach as the years go by, 240 is not 300. Mike Mussina with his career record of 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA in a 18-year career is a marginal candidate (at best according to some voters).
I believe that if Pettitte is to get into the Hall of Fame players like Mussina and Schilling have to do favorably with the voters. If these players get a good numbers of votes and continue to rise as the years move forward, then I think Pettitte has a good shot. If Mussina and Schilling start slow with the votes and (I doubt it will happen) get less than 5% of the vote thereby losing their eligibilty for Hall of Fame consideration, the Pettitte is in trouble. I truly believe that Pettitte matches up well with both Mussina (in terms of win/loss) and Schilling (Postseason influence on body of work) that their success or failure with the Hall of Fame voters will reflect on Pettitte. But we have five years to debate the facts.
As a Yankees fan, all I can say is thank you Andy Pettitte for all of your years of service to the team I root for and follow. You came through big for us when needed and you will truly be missed.
For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Andy Pettitte's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com