Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 3, 2011
BASEBALL: Pettitte Retires

So, the Yankees go on without Andy Pettitte, which creates some real issues for their rotation. More on all that to follow. A few quick thoughts:

-Hey, you know who has a career record of 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA against the Yankees? Oliver Perez. Maybe they should check that guy out. (Somewhat more seriously, Jonah Keri suggests Barry Zito).

-Pettitte will make a very interesting Hall of Fame case, especially given two things: the PED issue and the fact that he started a staggering 42 postseason games (263 postseason innings, compared to 3055 in the regular season). Pettitte ends 102 games above .500; Bob Caruthers of the old American Association of the 1880s (218-99) remains the only eligible pitcher not in the Hall to finish 100 games over .500 (27 pitchers have done it; the others not in are Clemens, Randy Johnson, Maddux, Pedro, Mussina and Glavine; the furthest over .500 by a 20th century pitcher not in is Sam Leever at 194-100). Ranked by Quality Innings (ERA+ times IP), Pettitte ranks 111th among the 245 pitchers to win 150 or more games, but that's without counting his postseason work and without adjusting for the declining workloads of modern starters.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:36 PM | Baseball 2011 | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

IMHO, he should be in the Hall of Fame. Also regarding the PED issue. Taking something, once or twice, because you were injured and trying to cut your recovery time is not the same as a continued course of steroids/hgh over years coupled with attempts to hide the usage.

Posted by: dch at February 3, 2011 3:01 PM

He'll probably get in eventually, and if Jack Morris gets voted in in the near future, it'll help his case by providing an "if A" example of a high career ERA candidate getting voted in (and with everyone knowing that Pettitte's 3.88 was accomplished in a profoundly nastier hitters' era than Morris' 3.90).

Posted by: M. Scott Eiland at February 4, 2011 1:39 AM

Of course he should be in. He's a Yankee.

Posted by: MVH at February 4, 2011 7:23 AM

He's certainly a better candidate than Jack Morris.

Posted by: per14 at February 4, 2011 8:21 AM

I think Pettite should be in the HOF (and I'm a Red Sox fan). The sheer number of postseason starts needs to be considered (not to mention that he pitched quite well in those starts), because they certainly impact regular season performance (due to the increased arm-strain from all the extra innings).

I don't believe him on the PED's, but I don't care either. I've pretty much accepted that more than half of the players of the era were doing PED's, so why get worked up about it? PED users put up numbers facing other PED users...it all comes out in the wash, right?

Posted by: Paul H. at February 4, 2011 11:16 AM

The Evil Empire is in trouble. They have half a rotation and a shallow pen. That coupled with the advancing age of A-Rod, Jeter and Posada spells more trouble scoring runs and more runs given up. To bad the rays are broken up, because the Yanks would probably be pushed to third and still may by the Jays.

As for Pettite in the HOF, I put him in the same category as Morris. He was a good pitcher over an extended period of time, but did not accumulate the number of wins or an overwhelming ERA to justify selection. Good pitcher, no Hall.

Posted by: maddirishman at February 4, 2011 12:51 PM

Paul H: I agree with you on Pettite and the PEDs. I am a Yankee fan and usually watch all or part of about 75% of their regular season games. I remember one season -- I think 2000 or so but remember for sure -- when Pettite showed up bigger, leaner, and his fastball had jumped from 92-93 to 95-96. That usually doesn't happen mid-career. Maybe it was good ol' fashion hard work or the power of prayer, but I am skeptical.

Posted by: WTD at February 4, 2011 4:24 PM

How long before Yankees try to buy some starting pitchers? Do they have prospects in farm system?

Posted by: PaulV at February 5, 2011 1:24 PM

Okay, here we go again.

Andy Pettite - .635 career winning percentage
Ron Guidry - .651 career winning percentage

Pettite - 3.88 career ERA
Guidry - 3.29 career ERA

Pettite - 25 career complete games
Guidry - 95 career complete games

Pettite - 1.357 career WHIP
Guidry - 1.184 career WHIP

Pettite - 2.8 career BB/9
Guidry - 2.4 career BB/9

Pettite - 6.6 career SO/9
Guidry - 6.7 career SO/9

Pettite - 9.4 career H/9
Guidry - 8.3 career H/9

Pettite - 4 career shutouts
Guidry - 26 career shutouts

Pettite - 2 20 game win seasons
Guidry - 3 20 games win seasons

Last time I mentioned Guidry's name the response on this board was almost unanimous: Gator was good but not good enough for the HOF.

OK, I'll buy that. The Gid was no Sandy Koufax. Or Steve Carlton for that matter. But Andy Pettite for the HOF? Don't make me puke.

Oops... too late.

Posted by: DubiousD at February 7, 2011 3:09 AM

You missed the key stat in that comparison:

Pettitte: 3055 career IP, plus 263 in the postseason

Guidry: 2392 career IP, plus 62.2 in the postseason

It's not an accident that Pettitte won 70 more regular season games and nearly four times as many postseason games. Guidry was a better pitcher than Pettitte, but he was far less consistent and durable. I've said for years that Guidry would be HoF worthy if he'd sustained the level of his prime for more years.

Posted by: Crank at February 7, 2011 1:05 PM

I saw this argument making the case for Pettitte, which states that pitchers in the 1990's should not be held to the same standards as pitchers in the past:


"[O]ne, pitchers who played in the '90s are going to have higher ERAs than those elected by the writers, particularly the ones many consider the Hall standard: the sub-3.00-ERA, 275-plus win pitchers of the '60s and '70s. Second, usage patterns have changed to keep starters from racking up the starts pitchers from that era did, limiting their innings and wins totals. There's a perfectly good reason for this: pitching became harder, and it was impossible to sustain a long career while being asked to make 40 starts and throw 300 innings per season. The usage patterns of the '60s and '70s worked when four hitters in every lineup slugged .320. When that changed, when pitchers had to work harder to every hitter, they were able to provide less quantity. The voters are holding Brown, and the pitchers to follow in his stead, to a standard that ignores the changes in the game. Pettitte, judged in the context of his time, is as qualified as many of the pitchers elected by the BBWAA in the past. He's not an inner-circle Hall of Famer like Roger Clemens or Greg Maddux; he's just a great one who fits in with Hunter, Lemon, Dean, et al."

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/joe_sheehan/02/04/pettitte-hall-fame/index.html#ixzz1DIppA9MZ

Is there any merit to this?

Posted by: MVH at February 7, 2011 2:26 PM

Pettitte had a great career and, as a Red Sox fan, I never wanted to see him on the hill in a big game. Still, I think there is a lot more to come on the PEDs and, I suspect, the testimony Pettitte will have to give in the Clemens trial this summer will not paint a pretty picture. I also think that played a substantial role in his not wanting to come back. Another reasonable year or two and he would have a very strong HoF case. Someone of his caliber could have found the "heart" to go for that.

Posted by: Magrooder at February 7, 2011 4:31 PM

MVH - I'm not necessarily sold on Pettitte as a Hall of Famer but I agree with Joe Sheehan's reasons why he's a stronger candidate than he seems at first glance. The workload issue is one I have been harping on for ever and ever regarding comparisons of starting pitchers over time, see here and here.

Posted by: Crank at February 7, 2011 6:39 PM

The number of postseason appearances a player makes is a measure of a team's performance, not an individual player's. C'mon, Crank, surely you know that. You might as well have make the same argument about Pettite vs. Koufax. Or Jeter vs. Ernie Banks.

During Guidry's 14 year career, the Yankees made the post-season 5 times. During Pettite's 16 year career, the Yankees and the Astros made the post-season 13 times. For Guidry, then, closing the experience gap was not even remotely possible.

(Also Guidry did not have the benefit of the divisional playoff series to extend his post-season experience.)

Lastly, as to Pettite's higher career inning output, I would point to the fact that during Pettite's last seven seasons, Pettite hurled two complete games. During Guidry's last seven seasons, Guidry threw fifty complete games. Is it any wonder Guidry's arm fell off faster?

That said, there's denying Pettite was a terrific post season pitcher.

Posted by: DubiousD at February 7, 2011 9:08 PM

My Yankees joking aside, Pettitte is a close call. He's the Sammy Hagar of baseball - you have a chance to win every time he pitches. I'm sure there are a few Hall of Famers that given the chance would trade their inductions for his postseason career. The PED use was unfortunate, but I do believe that he only used it that one instance.

Posted by: MVH at February 8, 2011 9:24 AM

Dubious, I agree that too much credit can be given to players simply for being lucky enough to be on a playoff team. However, when discussing pitchers the additional strain of pitching so many post-season innings must be take into account. Simply put, wouldn't Pettitte's regular season stats likely be better if he hadn't been throwing so many extra innings in the post-season every year?

That being said, I made my original post without looking at Pettitte's career numbers, which were less impressive than I remembered. For some reason I didn't think he had so many seasons where his era was above 4.00. He is probably a borderline candidate without the PED issue (which to me means he should be a borderline candidate, while to others it probably kills any chance he has of getting in).

Posted by: Paul H. at February 8, 2011 2:26 PM

It's the PED's people. If you keep Big Mac et al out, you gotta keep Andy out. Look at 2004-2005. He goes to the Astros, gets hurt and takes PEDs "only to get healthy". 2005 is a career year, by far. His conscious gets to him and he stops (allegedly). The rest of his career reverts back to the norm of an above average pitcher.

Een the post season numbers aren't anything better than above average. His carrer post season numbers, which amount to one full season, are statistically equal in almost every way to his regular eason norms.

Good pitcher, not a HOFer. IMHO, of course.

Posted by: DS at February 9, 2011 8:58 AM
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