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Andy Pettitte notes

Posted by Andy on November 5, 2009

Wow...what a World Series!

Lots to talk about. Let's start with Andy Pettitte.

From the post-season leaders page, we can see some of Pettitte's all-time post-season rankings.

He's first in wins:

Wins

Rank Player W IP
1. Andy Pettitte 18 249.0
2. John Smoltz 15 209.0
3. Tom Glavine 14 218.1
4. Roger Clemens 12 199.0
5. Greg Maddux 11 198.0
Curt Schilling 11 133.1
7. Whitey Ford 10 146.0
Dave Stewart 10 133.0
David Wells 10 125.0
10. Catfish Hunter 9 132.1
Orlando Hernandez 9 106.0

Those 18 wins came over 249 IP in 40 games and starts. So that's a little over one regular season's worth of starts, and he's managed 18 wins, which is very good. (Remember that in the post-season, you're facing all good teams, so he has no doormats with which to pad his win total. Winning at a rate of 15-16 games for a full-year equivalent is impressive.)

Pettitte is also up there in losses:

Losses

Rank Player L IP
1. Tom Glavine 16 218.1
2. Greg Maddux 14 198.0
3. Andy Pettitte 9 249.0
Randy Johnson 9 121.0
5. Roger Clemens 8 199.0
Whitey Ford 8 146.0
Mike Mussina 8 139.2
Jerry Reuss 8 62.2
9. Tim Wakefield 7 72.0
Charlie Leibrandt 7 57.1

At 18-9, he's won twice as often as he's lost, which again is very good.

Check out the all-time leaders in games pitched:

Games Played

Rank Player G IP
1. Mariano Rivera 88 133.1
2. Jeff Nelson 55 54.1
3. Mike Stanton 53 55.2
4. Mike Timlin 46 50.2
5. John Smoltz 41 209.0
6. Andy Pettitte 40 249.0
7. Mark Wohlers 39 38.1
8. Paul Assenmacher 36 20.0
9. Tom Glavine 35 218.1
Roger Clemens 35 199.0
Greg Maddux 35 198.0

This table summarizes the baseball playoffs nicely. In the Wild Card era, there are so many more games that all the records belong to modern guys, and over that same period, it's been pretty much all Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox.

Pettitte is number 1 in homers allowed:

Home Runs

Rank Player HR IP
1. Andy Pettitte 29 249.0
2. Tom Glavine 21 218.1
Catfish Hunter 21 132.1
4. Mike Mussina 19 139.2
5. John Smoltz 17 209.0
Roger Clemens 17 199.0
7. Jaret Wright 16 56.0
8. Randy Johnson 15 121.0
9. Greg Maddux 14 198.0
Charles Nagy 14 84.2

However, 5 of the top 10 guys above actually allowed homers at a higher rate than Pettitte (including, obviously, Jaret Wright--wow!) Catfish Hunter sticks out as the only holdover from prior to the Wild Card era.

Anyway, the bottom line is that Pettitte has been very impressive. He's pitched in 8 World Series (including with Houston in 2005.) True, he's been lucky to be on such good teams, but A) he had a lot to do with them being so good and B) regardless of how he got the opportunities, he has done well with them.

It's interesting to debate his Hall of Fame credentials. His position as a top pitcher on 8 World Series teams goes a long way, in my opinion. He's got the 63rd-highest win total of all time, but only the 229th-highest loss total (translation: he's got a great winning percentage.) He has two 20-win seasons (actually 21 both times) and finished in the top 6 in Cy Young voting in 5 different seasons.

The marks against him are primarily these:

  • He has only 229 career wins (as mentioned, 63rd all time) which would be a very low total for a Hall of Famer.
  • His excellent W-L record seems to be at least partially a product of playing on such good teams. He came to the Yankees in 1995 when they made the playoffs for the first time in a long time and has never pitched for a poor team. His ERA+ is only 116 which, while very respectable, is not excellent. His neutralized pitching totals tell the story. They say his record should be (gulp) 162-146, a whopping 67 wins fewer than he has. This means that if he hadn't been on the Yankees, he'd be much closer to a .500 pitcher in all likelihood. This would give him numbers more like Tim Wakefield, Livan Hernandez, or Kevin Millwood. These are all good pitchers but clearly not HOFers.

What do you think?

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 5th, 2009 at 11:33 am and is filed under Leaders, Polls, Postseason. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

20 Responses to “Andy Pettitte notes”

  1. I wouldn't induct Pettite, but he certainly wouldn't be an embarrassment. There's worse pitchers in the HOF. 229 wins is a bit low, but its more than Bunning, Hunter, Drysdale, Lemon, Koufax plus a number of pre-WWII guys. And an ERA+ of 116 over a long career isn't too bad. Its better than Carlton, Jenkins, Bunning, Niekro, Roberts, Wynn. Plus, I don't really agree with the neutralization algorithm used here (not a big deal, its just a toy). Using Pythagoras, a 116 ERA+ translates to a .574 WPct or 209-155... which is still fairly solid. He's got some time left to pad his win totals, too (likely at the expense of his ERA+, though).

    My trouble with him is that we don't elect players in the abstract, we look at a list of candidates and vote for the best available. He's got quite a few contemporaries who are clearly better. Not just the 300-game winners, either, I'd vote for Smoltz, Schilling and Mussina before I voted for Pettite.

  2. Oh, and we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that Sean Forman wrote about this topic a couple of days ago:

    http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/pettitte-falls-short-for-the-hall-of-fame/

  3. True, but Sean is a Yankee-hater :)

  4. Excellent post on the pros and cons of Pettitte's HOF credentials. For me, his 3.91 career ERA is a killer, as well as the lack of individual distinction (no Cy Youngs, only 2 All Star appearances, etc.) However, he has been a big game pitcher when it counts. Ultimately, when I compare him to his contemporaries, probably the best comparison is to Glavine, who (to me) represents the bare minimum to get into the HOF...and even he has 2 Cy Youngs, World Series MVP, far better ERA, etc.

    But, if he pitches a few more years and gets into the 260-270 win range, maybe his post-season success carries him in??? (provided his ERA can stay below 4)...below is another article (from a Boston site, no less!) whose author believes Pettitte should go in (but has some great quotes from others in baseball too).

    http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/articles/2009/11/02/tossing_pettittes_name_out_there/

  5. As much as I respect Nick Cafardo and Peter Abraham, that article you linked to is a pretty bad piece of journalism, in my opinion. Or at least, I should say, the opinions make no sense to me. I don't see all that good of an argument for Pettitte to make the HOF.

    Glavine--I think he's a far stronger candidate than you do, cks.

  6. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    Glavine is a clear HOFer, unless you believe the HOF should be much smaller than it is, for only the super-elite.

    Pettitte is not there yet. I think DavidRF's is a fine assessment. He's never been one of the best pitchers in MLB, but the HOF honors great players as well as great careers, and he could eventually make it under the latter definition. (Although he's made noises about retiring for years, so who knows how long he will last.) A big question is how much does one want to weight his postseason record. He's had far more opportunities due to his era and teams. But those are important games, and the extra pitches he's had to throw do wear him down.

  7. Agreed JT, and further, reiterating what I wrote in the original post--regardless of the total number of post-season opportunities Pettitte has had, he had pitched cumulatively quite in them (against all good teams.)

  8. I agree, it was weak, nothing like the NY times article. I only liked it for some of the quotes from around baseball (e.g. from Reggie Jackson, some of the writers, Dan Duquette, etc.) I've debated this with my friends but had never heard any opinions from former players or writers...

    I think Glavine is a strong candidate, but in my mind he's not an all-time great like a Maddux or Clemens, nor was he dominant like Pedro or Randy Johnson...before he hit 300 wins (and right around the time he went from ATL to the Mets) I remember him being "in the discussion for the HOF" but not necessarily there...and then it seemed like he hung on long enough to get to 300 w/ the Mets...I guess that's why I put him at the bottom of the current crop of HOF pitchers...

    I was at Fulton-County for Game 6 of the '95 Series so I saw him shut down that Indians lineup for their only title...so trust me I do think he's a strong candidate!!!

  9. I think Pettitte falls short of the Hall, but I do want to play devil's advocate on one thing: his low black ink score (7, Avg Hof: ~40). His no-question, probably first ballot, hall of fame teammate Derek Jeter has a black ink score of 6 (Avg HoF: ~27). He led the league in PAs 3 times, Runs once, and Hits once. Sometimes you have to give more credit to the guy who was really good for a long time than the guy who was the best once or twice.

    As an aside, if we let Pettitte in, then we have to seriously consider putting Moyer in as well. His career ERA+ of 104 is nothing special, but he did have 9 seasons with an ERA+ of 115 or better. Pettitte had 4 such seasons. However, Pettite was above 100 in 14 of his 15 seasons. Moyer has a lower rate of 12 out of 23. But he has pitched for 23 seasons, and will probably come back for a 24th. How many guys played for 23 years and didn't make the Hall?

    Hmm...apparently the answer to that question is "a lot". Deacon McGuire, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Charlie Hough, Jesse Orosco (assuming he's actually retired), Rick Dempsey, Jack Quinn, Tim Raines, Dennis Martinez, and Rusty Staub. Although you could make an argument for most of these guys to be in.

  10. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    Moyer has had a very fine career. I can't see him on Pettitte's level. You could argue both their 10-year primes were from 1996 to 2005. In that period, Pettite pitched 1923 IP with a 122 ERA+. Moyer pitched 2023 IP with a 114 ERA+. Both good, Pettitte seems clearly better, and I think Moyer probably had superior defensive support. Now, outside of those 10 years, Pettitte has added another ~1000 IP at ~107 ERA+ -- competent, above-average starting pitching. Moyer has about 1900 additional IP, but at only ~94 ERA+, which is about average for a starter. That's not bad, it was useful to his teams, but to me, it adds nothing to a HOF case. I only care about above-average performance when considering HOF qualifications, not the filler. Also, Pettitte had a couple great individual seasons. I don't think Moyer ever had a single year one could call great. Finally, Pettitte has more-or-less been pretty dependable throughout his career. Even once he figured things out in his 30s, Moyer would still stink it up every few seasons.

  11. Pettite does not get in Cooperstown with a 3.91 career ERA (interesting note: his post season ERA is almost identical to his reagular season ERA, at 3.90). Most of his career, he's had an ERA over 4 and I can't think of any HOFers who had a significant amount of 4.00+ ERA's.

    Though, I think Pettitte will be remembered very fondly and get plenty of HOF support when ballot time comes. In fact, he'll probably be thought of as one of the best non-Hall of Famers. Pettite always makes me think of Allie Reynolds.

  12. sorry to rain on the parade, but i can't get past the HGH stuff. he admitted to using it in 2002, but said it was the only time...but later he admitted that he also used it in 2004. that's cheating in my book. what's the lesson there? cheat until you get caught; then fess up, and you get a free ride?

  13. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    I'm rather agnostic on PEDs. But even for those who aren't, it's my understanding that there is no evidence HGH does enhance performance.

  14. I'm also agnostic on PEDs, but I think that HGH can be considered performance enhancing. It is an essential component in the healing process and taking HGH injections definitely speeds up healing (and perhaps has some side-effects too.) I think HGH injections can help ballplayers who not only have serious injuries but also some nagging injuries that most players get during the season. In that sense, it's "performance enhancing" in that it can help the average player to stay healthier. It doesn't make a player stronger or faster but may prevent debilitating conditions. So in the sense that it can help a player increase his health as compared to others, I'd consider it performance-enhancing.

  15. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    Would that be different from a cortisone shot? (A steroid, though not an anabolic steroid.)

  16. Cortisone basically reduces inflammation by limiting the body's immune response to an existing injury. HGH is more associated with growth (or re-growth) of tissue and muscle. So think of it in this over-simplified way: cortisone treats the symptoms, i.e. allows players to play with injury/pain while HGH in theory helps the injury heal.

    Cortisone also has more direct side-effects on the body. HGH definitely has side-effects but they are more long-term.

  17. Good stats up at #10 JT

    The big difference between Cortisol and HGH (as I see it) is that Cortisol will help with the side effects of an injury while HGH will help heal and even avoid the injury in the first place. If you're healthy, taking Cortisol won't do anything other than decrease your immune system. If you're healthy and take HGH, you'll be less susceptible to injury, and grow larger (though not necessarily stronger) muscles. This of course begs the question, wouldn't we want less injured players?

  18. HGH, like steroids, can be prescribed legally for some circumstances. In fact, Pettitte obtained some of his HGH from a filled prescription of his dad's, who was gravely ill at the time. Although HGH does not enhance strength, it does enhance healing and make one less resistant to injuries. So, what it can do is boost stamina through a season, making August and September feel more like May.

  19. I'm sure kingturtle meant to say MORE resistant to injuries.

  20. I'm as much of an Andy Pettitte fan as the next guy. I just don't think right now he's getting in. He's got very good numbers. He's probably one of the best postseason pitchers ever based on numbers and success. But he's not quite there.

    On the HGH, he hasn't had much backlash since his public apology last spring. I think the general feeling i've gotten is that the public has been mostly forgiving the guys who just come out when confronted and admit to it. It's the guys who hide from the truth that are getting shell shocked. I don't see it having much of any effect on his Hall of Fame votes except for maybe up to 5 voters who say "he took it, he's out".

    Now if he pitches a few more seasons, perhaps he gets there. Before 2008, people were calling Mike Mussina a borderline candidate for the Hall of Fame, much as where Pettitte is now. Then Mussina threw that great 2008 season, got his 20 win season, and improved his career numbers. Now he's more on the "YES" side of the line than the no. So who's to say that if Pettitte doesn't have 2 more solid seasons of above league average ERA and 30 combined wins that that won't be enough.

    Speaking of Mussina. He was on some very good teams for most of his career but never won the big one. He still had gas left in the tank when he retired. Now the team he would have been on won the World Series. How do you think he's feeling right now?