Good Bye, Andy

So I see that Andy Pettitte is retiring. I’m going to step away from my normal look at the past of baseball, and the current emphasis on the black experience in the sport, to comment on his departure. I’ve never been a Yankees fan, but I’m going to miss him.

 Pettitte came along just as the Yankees were turning around their franchise. He was a big part of that turn around, arguably the centerpiece of the starting pitchers. Without him, I’m not sure the team would have won four championships in five years. I know it will always be considered the Torre/Jeter Yankees, but Pettitte was as important as any other player because he provided a steady, reliable starter. Frankly, there aren’t just a heck of a lot of those. He has some good stats: 240 wins, a .635 winning percentage, a WHIP of 1.357, 2251 strikeouts, 962 walks, an ERA of 3.88, and an ERA+ of 117. He also gave up more hits than he had innings pitched. In the postseason he has 19 wins (a record), a winning percentage of .655, a WHIP of 1.304, 173 strikeouts, 72 walks, an ERA of 3.83, and more hits than innings pitched. In other words, he’s almost the same pitcher in both the regular and post seasons (which is something a lot of truly great pitchers can’t say). And of course, he has five championships, starting three of the deciding games.

Then there’s the HGH moment. Now I’m not prone to believe any of these people when they start going on about “Well, I didn’t know” or “I didn’t do it” or “I only did it once” or “There must be some mistake, ” or “Who? Me?”  But Pettitte’s admission to having used HGH once when he was hurt and wanted desperately to get back to his team has a ring of truth about that makes me give him the benefit of the doubt, at least a little. Maybe it just means he’s a much better actor than the others, but maybe he really meant it.

I’ve already heard the talk about the Hall of Fame, both pro and con. His winning percentage is in the same range as Jim Palmer, Mike Mussina, and Kid Nichols. But it’s also in the same range as Tex Hughson and Ed Reulbach.  In strikeouts Lefty Grove and Eddie Plank straddle him. His WHIP is better than Mark Gubicza’s but worse than Steve Stone’s. His 19 playoff wins is a record, and he’s second in playoff strikeouts, but he had more rounds to get them in than Whitey Ford. He has five rings, but Red Ruffing has six and Nolan Ryan only one. So I sat down and started thinking long and hard about it. I have a basic rule of thumb that if you have to think long and hard about whether a player is a Hall of Famer or not, he probably isn’t. That’s my judgement on Pettitte, but I do hope he gets a bunch of votes the first time he shows up on the ballot. He is, at least, one of the finest pitchers in the history of the Yankees franchise.

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4 Responses to “Good Bye, Andy”

  1. vinnie Says:

    As best I’ve been able to find, he’s got more career wins than any major league pitcher who never had a losing season. The closest active pitcher to him is right now is CC Sabathia. Additionally, he never had a losing season in the minor leagues. Don’t know if that matters, but how many can say that?
    It’s also been said that every pitcher who won at least a hundred more games than they lost were eventually elected to the hall of fame.

    • verdun2 Says:

      Well, it’s possible I’m wrong and he deserves a ticket to Cooperstown. I liked him enough that I won’t be upset if he gets there.
      Thanks for reading and for an intelligent comment.
      v

  2. William Miller Says:

    I’m glad you did this post about Pettitte. I’ve never been a Yankee fan, either, but I always respected Pettitte. I’ve also always thought along the same lines as you regarding HOF worthiness, namely, if you have to think about it, he probably doesn’t belong.
    But I’ve begun to re-think that perspective. Here’s why. Many times over the years, authors, Presidents, rock n’ roll bands and even relatives have been far more important and significant than we at first realized. Sometimes in takes the passing of a certain amount of time to fully come to appreciate their accomplishments / achievements / contributions, etc.
    For that reason, although I can understand and respect arguments against Pettitte’s Hall enshrinement, I reserve the right to withhold judgment until some more time has passed.
    One more potentially important thing: If Pettitte does get into the Hall someday as a former PED user, he will open a door that now appears to be shut off to others.
    I guess in five years we’ll begin to find out which way the wind is blowing for Pettitte.
    Nice job, Bill

  3. verdun2 Says:

    You surely noticed the way I did my comment on the Hall (because you quoted it correctly). I made certain I used the word “probably”. And that’s because you’re right, things do change, perspectives change and occasionally something occurs to change my mind. Right now I don’t see Pettitte in the Hall, but I understand your argument about the passing of time and accept I may be wrong. It’s happened before, me being wrong (twice, I think). 🙂
    Thanks for a thoughtful and intelligent comment.
    V

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