Andy Pettitte’s Curious Qualifications for the Hall

Andy Pettitte is going to announce his (second) retirement this afternoon. Much will be written (again) about Pettitte’s career and, of course, his Hall of Fame prospects. Others are better at the history and biography stuff, and, well, at pretty much all of the other stuff, too. Personally, I am not interested in predicting whether a player will get into the Hall of Fame. Analyzing players is one thing. Sociological and psychological evaluations of the Hall of Fame’s voters is another (that is not a commentary on the voters, just on my interests). When it comes to stuff like this, I prefer to focus on a player’s worthiness, that is, whether he should get into the Hall of Fame.

Much will be written regarding Pettitte’s Hall of Fame contributions now and in the off-season, just as much was written about his post-2010 retirement. I am not going to cover every angle or offer a final verdict. Rather, I want to to discuss two or three tough angles for the sabermetric evaluation of Pettitte’s case that make it an intriguing topic.

For most (but not all) of this post I am going to use Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as a basis for discussion. It is not the only way to get into these matters, and there are ongoing debates about WAR and its variants. For the sake of getting to the point, I am going to leave those aside for now, since I think WAR, for all its issues, is a good rough way of understanding a player’s value.

Peak Value

There is no simple algorithm for determining a player’s sabermetric Hall-worthiness, of course. Not everyone is going to agree on general principles. As a general guide and starting point, we can start with overall value. Something around 60 career wins is a good guide, although, again, it is not an absolute baseline. Pettite passes the 60 WAR test, having about 68 career WAR at the moment.

But even with more advanced metrics like WAR, most of us do not want mere accumulators in the Hall of Fame. We want players who were more than just average or above-average for a significant chunk of their career. Now things get a bit fuzzier. Sometimes we use graphs to illustrate this when we compare players. That is one good way, especially when comparing the player in question with another whose worthiness is generally acknowledged. Another quick way I prefer it to look at a player’s best three to five seasons. Without getting into all the different viewpoints, I think that a player needs at least three really awesome seasons on his Hall of Fame resume. And by “awesome,” I do not mean “above average” (three or four wins) or great for a season (five or six). I mean really, really great. Something like seven wins or more in a season.

As an example, while Duke Snider‘s total career WAR is seemingly just barely in at at 63.5, he is still a no-doubt Hall of Famer largely due to his awesome peak from 1953 to 1956, four seasons in which he averaged about eight wins a year. He was very good before that, but that sustained peak (in a short time) really puts him over the top, statistically speaking. Sure, WAR is not the most subtle of tools, so seven wins a season in a peak is not a hard and fast rule, but conveys the general idea.

The peak aspect of Pettitte’s case is not very strong in this light. He only has one season with around seven wins (7.2 in 1997), and no other season really comes close. He only had three other seasons over eighteen seasons with more than five wins. Pettitte never really had an out-and-out bad season, and was pretty much always above average, but we are looking for more than just “above average for a really long time.” Longevity is a good thing, but is it enough to outweigh Pettitte’s lack of an truly impressive group of peak seasons?

FIP, RA, and Peak Value Revisited

While one might buy FIP-based WAR (as implemented here at FanGraphs) on a season-to-season basis, one might question whether it is really appropriate as an evaluation of a player’s career. After all, Pettite has pitched 3300 innings, we probably have about as good an idea of his non-DIPS skill as any pitcher. At first glance, this might seem to hurt his case for the Hall a bit, as his RA9-WAR is around 62 as opposed to the 68 with FIP-based WAR. His career 86 ERA- is a bit worse than his career 84 FIP-. These are not precision instruments, so the difference is not that big in practical terms, but it is not really helping his case.

Unless, that is, we return to the peak value issue. If we look at Pettitte’s seasonal RA9-WAR, his peak much more impressive. His 1997 RA9-WAR (7.5) is about the same as his FIP-based WAR that year. However, the switch in perspective adds 2005 as an awesome, Hall-worthy peak season of 7.8 WAR. putting him up with the best pitchers in baseball that year.

Is it enough? Well, it is just one more great peak season, and no third season really stands out. And, as those of you have already done the math in your head have already figured out, while RA9-WAR makes his two best seasons look a better, it also makes most of the rest of his seasons a bit less impressive. So I am not sure how much it really helps or hurts him, other than bringing people’s attention to the amazing 2005 he and Rogers Clemens had for the Astros.

PostSeason Value

The above discussion all dealt with Pettitte’s regular season performances, but as anyone who has paid attention knows, Pettitte has had plenty of postseason experience as well. He has pitched in eight different World Series, including five winners. He was the 2001 ALCS MVP. All together, Pettite started 44 games in the playoffs, and totaled 276 innings. For most of today’s starting pitchers, that is almost another season-and-half of work. He ERA- (84) was actually better in the postseason than it was in the regular season, even if his FIP was worse.

We do not have WAR (or other general value stat) for the postseason play at this time, and whether and how it should be done is another issue, but those innings clearly have some value. The competition was tougher than in the regular season. And while Pettitte’s amount of postseason experience was boosted by him having very good teammates, one cannot discount the fact that Pettitte made big contributions to his teams making the playoffs (and advancing so far) so often. It was not a mere coincidence.

How much should we value Pettitte’s (mostly good) postseason play? How should that be weighted against the peak and longevity issues? I do not know, but it matters, and is one more reason his Hall of Fame case is fun to discuss.



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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


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Antonio Bananas
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t think a player’s postseason player should be taken into consideration. If King Felix were a Yankee, he’d have a lot of good post season numbers too. I think that Pettite is a hall of famer based on his regular season contributions though. The post season stats should give him a boost from writers who can’t comprehend that what your post season stats look like (or if you even have any) has a lot to do with the team you’re on. Pettite does have a substantial sample size of post season play, so he’s unarguably a good post season pitcher. It’s just that the opportunity for all those games were because he was a Yankee.

Fraggle
Guest
Fraggle
2 years 10 months ago

Totally agree with respect to valuing postseason play.

Ruki Motomiya
Member
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 10 months ago

Why shouldn’t post-season stats matter? Leaving aside the “If King Felix were a Yankee” bit, they’re still 276 innings he pitched. Why should we say that the innings don’t count just because they came in the postseason?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 10 months ago

It’s not far to judge him against other players using those numbers because they represent an opportunity that other players didn’t get.

If they were just adding those stats to the regular season stats, then it would be fine, but voters always give extra weight to postseason performance. That is the main thing that isn’t fair, when a player is made out to be a “postseason hero” on his HOF resume, because that will hurt the cases of players who may have been better in the regular season buy didn’t get the same postseason opportunity.

Preston
Guest
Preston
2 years 10 months ago

Ignoring data is never the right way to evaluate for anything. It’s probably true that HOF voters put too much emphasis on post-season play, but the answer isn’t to not look at it at all. And I don’t think you should view it as only as valuable as a regular season game, because it’s not, it’s a higher leverage situation against better competition.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 10 months ago

“that will hurt the cases of players who may have been better in the regular season buy didn’t get the same postseason opportunity.”

I don’t see that as a good reason to exclude someone’s postseason numbers. They still put up those numbers and they still had to work for them, against usually tougher competition. Last I checked, there was no min or max quota for the Hall. Just because we let one guy in based on great postseason stats, it doesn’t mean that we have to exclude some other guy who had no postseason play.

And yet, with at all that said, I just don’t feel like Pettitte will be a HOF guy. His stats, in aggregate, are great, but not overwhelming. Second, on how many seasons did you hear about players fearing to face Andy Pettitte? That’s reflected in his All Star appearances also (only 3 in a fairly long career). The third strike is the HGH issue. Absent any one of these, he’d probably be in the HOF. But with all three? Unlikely.

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 10 months ago

Preston – very well said. The entire comment was right on.

Eminor3rd
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Eminor3rd
2 years 10 months ago

It’s not an MVP award — it’s HOF. It’s literally a popularity contest. Why not take everything into account?

Nathan
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Nathan
2 years 10 months ago

Exactly

Travis L
Guest
Travis L
2 years 10 months ago

I feel like we should take Postseason stats into consideration when looking at a career. I just don’t think they should be weighted much differently than regular season. Mentally, I add about 7-8 WAR to Pettite for his postseason pitching.

In a single season comparison, counting p.s. #s doesnt make sense because it changes the number of games played. But career lengths vary greatly, anyhow. Plus, Pettite did risk injury by pitching those additional innings, so I think it’s only fair to credit him with the positive.

Carl Swenson
Guest
Carl Swenson
2 years 6 months ago

7-8 WAR for his postseason pitching? His best season was a 7 WAR season where he posted a 2.88 ERA. His postseason ERA was almost a full point higher at 3.81, which over 277 innings would add up to 3 WAR at the absolute maximum. He wasn’t clutch and better in the postseason. Pettitte posted only a 0.04 better ERA than his career ERA, making him only a slightly better than average pitcher when it comes to postseason play. He got the opportunity to start 44 games in the postseason because of the team he was on, he didn’t individually earn all of his teams postseason berths. He can thank his luck to be on a good team to give himself postseason opportunities.

Preston
Guest
Preston
2 years 10 months ago

He also pitched on an Astros WS team, so it’s not just the Yankees, and I think it’s fair to remember that the Yankees weren’t the Yankees anymore when he came up (they hadn’t been to a WS since 1981). Andy Pettitte was a huge part of turning that around.

brad
Guest
brad
2 years 10 months ago

Doesn’t this amount to penalizing players for being on good teams?
Pettite threw an extra season and change of innings against only the best teams of each season, though admittedly not necessarily the best hitting teams, at the same basic level of production. It’s fine to say postseason shouldn’t count for the obvious cases either way, but Pettite is in the mushy middle. Considering there’s no way to deny postseason innings are more valuable than regular season innings, there’s a good case to be made Pettite does have a third peak level season on his resume. He was throwing 10-30 more innings a year, most years. To ignore all that in evaluating his total value to his teams as a player seems quite foolish, to me.

Alexander Nevermind
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Alexander Nevermind
2 years 10 months ago

And we should discount Tim Raines’ numbers because he had more opportunities by hitting in the leadoff position

Hejuk
Guest
Hejuk
2 years 10 months ago

The HOF is about what you did, not about what you did per opportunity. Edgar Martinez doesn’t get extra credit because the Mariners kept him in the minors too long. You don’t correct for freak injuries. The HOF is about the value of your career, and extraneous factors affect that value (in Pettite’s case, positively). That’s just part of life, and a fortiori part of baseball.

The HOF is not a meritocracy all the way down.

Charlie Hall
Guest
Charlie Hall
2 years 10 months ago

Ernie Banks would not be in the HOF if one considered postseason play.

brad
Guest
brad
2 years 10 months ago

Not even vaguely true.

Ryan Kelley
Guest
Ryan Kelley
11 months 6 days ago

Totally disagree.

There are plenty of star and elite level talents that struggle in the postseason. Off the top of my head, A-Rod. One of the most productive hitters ever, A-Rod has been a liability in the postseason for most of his career. His talent and regular season reputation almost hurts his team more, as it makes it more difficult to keep him out of the lineup etc…

If you’ve actually played baseball or any sport competitively, you’d realize how important the postseason is. It separates the men from the boys, and the stars from the guys who are very good at racking up the money stats for the arbitration case, but not great at producing when the team is banking on them…

Pettitte was a huge asset in the postseason, posting a 3.81 ERA against the best lineups in the game…

mario mendoza
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mario mendoza
2 years 10 months ago

Andy gets a Hall debate post within hours. Vlad Guerrero announced his retirement last weekend, and the best he gets is his name dropped in a “worst final season” article intro?

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 10 months ago

It may have caused more discussion if Vlad had played in the majors either of the last 2 years.

J6takish
Guest
J6takish
2 years 10 months ago

Still no Jim Thome piece

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 10 months ago

Not sure if he officially retired yet either. Although now he’s with the White Sox as special assistant to the GM, but during this season he was saying he still wanted to play.

olethros
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olethros
2 years 10 months ago

I knew Thome was retired when he spent spring training watching a HS basketball tournament across the street from my office.

Ryan Kelley
Guest
Ryan Kelley
11 months 6 days ago

Andy has 5 rings. Vlad never won a ring, and had a .664 OPS in the postseason. He was a great hitting corner outfielder, but he also got fat and stopped playing defense as soon as he got his FA contract. Not exactly HOF stuff.

Robert Kuhl
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Robert Kuhl
2 years 10 months ago

Andy Pettitte gets “Hall debate” posts, Kevin Brown (who’s better than Pettitte in every way) gets 2% of the vote and no one says a word.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 10 months ago

Kevin Brown got a post about his Hall chances here on fangraphs in 201 when he retired. By Dayn Perry.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 10 months ago

2010, I meant, when he first was eligible.

Can't admit he was wrong guy
Guest
Can't admit he was wrong guy
2 years 10 months ago

Yeah, but still.

Dino
Guest
Dino
2 years 10 months ago

Brown has 5.4 more fWAR in one more season.

PS Here’s the link to the Dayn Perry article:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/should-kevin-brown-be-in-the-hall-of-fame/

Tanned Tom
Guest
Tanned Tom
2 years 10 months ago

here’s a word for you: 211.
211 wins isn’t enough to get in to the hall. Not by historical standards. And maybe his WS ERA of over 6.00 stuck in voters minds?

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
2 years 10 months ago

In another current post here at Fangraphs, Curt Schilling is being, appropriately, touted for the HoF with just about the same number of wins. And considerably higher career WAR than Brown _or_ Pettite.

Wins are not an appropriate stat for assessing career performance. Sure, Hall _voters_ are dazzled or miffed over wins.

Kevin Brown to me also is more Hall worthy. He had a real career peak far higher than anything Pettite accomplished. Post-season aside, Brown was the best pitcher in baseball during his peak not named Johnson, was the dominant force pitching multiple different teams _to_ a pennant, and was moer sought after than anyone for that reason. Brown took a long time to emerge because his mechanics were frighteningly bad early in his career, which makes his refinement into a truly dominant pitcher at peak all the more remarkable: he had to work for it. We’re discussing Pettite because he’s a Yankee (i.e. ‘public demand’ not poster’s bias) and a generally much liked guy, whereas Brown was extremely abrasive unpopular with many, especially amongst scribes. Yeah, I’d vote for Brown every time.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

We’re discussing Pettitte because the question of whether he belongs in the Hall is a relevant topic right now, just like how we discussed Kevin Brown when his candidacy was a relevant topic.

Schilling is much better than Brown who was a bit better than Pettitte. I think that Schilling is a no-doubter, that Brown probably should be in, and that Pettitte is the definition of borderline, but his postseason numbers could push him in.

You really don’t have to pick one or the other.

Charlie Hall
Guest
Charlie Hall
2 years 10 months ago

Sandy Koufax had 165 wins. Two good seasons and four amazing seasons.

Johnhavok
Guest
Johnhavok
2 years 10 months ago

Pettitte is about as overrated a pitcher as there is when it comes to the Yankee hype/postseason machine. People talk about Pettitte like he’s a feared mythical beast of legend, when the reality is he put solidly above average but not elite of even great numbers over his career. He was elite maybe 1-2 seasons, and above average for the rest.

That’s not a hall of famer. As usual though, the rosy memories of Yankee World Series Titles and longevity will rear it’s ugly head and cause people to see him as an elite pitcher.

Put Mark Buerhle’s numbers beside Pettitte’s and you see that Buehrle is very comparable to Pettitte’s career numbers with the execption of K/9 and it’s not really far enough apart to be glaring. But nobody is talking about Buehrle being a potential Hall of Famer. Why? Beuhrle never wore pinstripes and had an offense to get him all those W’s.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 10 months ago

Pettitte has 68 career WAR. Buehrle has 48. And come on, this is fangraphs, enough with the “Yankee mythology” conspiracy worries. Buehrle has had his “hall of fame case” fangraphs article too, more along the lines of “if he keeps this up for another decade”:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/mark-buehrle-and-the-hall-of-fame/

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t think he should make it, but he has a better case than Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt, and about the same as Red Ruffing, all of whom are in. Playing for a long time, well, for several championship teams, has counted much in the past. Not that you necessarily want to perpetuate it.

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
2 years 10 months ago

HOF standards have changed over time. Bill James has written a book on this very topic. The problem is not that Pettitte will get in, it’s that some of his comparable (if not better contemporaries (e.g., Kevin Brown) might not.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 10 months ago

I agree that Brown should probably be in, and I wouldn’t vote for Pettitte, but that is part of his case.

Tanned Tom
Guest
Tanned Tom
2 years 10 months ago

as overrated as they come?
your Yankee hater stripe is showing

Brian
Guest
Brian
2 years 10 months ago

What are you so mad about? You’re Yankee bias undermines your already questionable comapisons.

cass
Guest
cass
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t understand the knock against compilers. What’s wrong with being very good over a very long time? That sounds like greatness to me.

wally
Guest
wally
2 years 10 months ago

Well, I think for players still in the 60s in WAR, there has to be a compelling reason to push them over the top. Even players in the 70s WAR aren’t making it into the hall, heck Bagwell at 80 with 4 years >7 (and an MVP award) has yet to crack 60% in the voting (though I think he will almost certainly make in the next 5 years).

For me, I’d like to see these players (60-70 WAR) have an easier time getting in, but the history has been that only those with some catchy side story make it. While its easy to discount others (say Edgar or Raines), because they don’t have that side story or what ever side story they have, is a negative (DH/drug stigma/what ever).

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 10 months ago

Sounds more like Very Goodness to me…

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 10 months ago

I think being a compiler should be respected more for pitchers, considering how hard it is to stay effective over a long career. Guys like Juan Pierre who make a lot of contact and stick around in the bigs for a long time are the compilers who I feel should not be considered.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

somewhat agree. But, if you are good enough to stick around so long to compile those numbers, that itself says something. Look at Hank Aaron. Only seven times in a 22 yr career did he hit 40 or more home runs (and they arent bunched together to give the ‘peak years’ of dominance) and two of those were 40 (not above). Sounds like a compiler to me.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/aaronha01.shtml

AA
Guest
AA
2 years 10 months ago

23 years at an average OPS of over .900 always gets you in the HOF.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

agreed, but he did get in before the advanced metrics became widely known, and most were seen as an intrusion on the norm when it came to evaluating players

Roto Wizard
Member
Roto Wizard
2 years 10 months ago

You do realize that 7 seasons of 40+ HR is pretty awesome right?

Can't admit he was wrong guy
Guest
Can't admit he was wrong guy
2 years 10 months ago

Yeah but still.

Adam Dunn
Guest
Adam Dunn
2 years 10 months ago

Yep, vote me in.

jorgesca
Member
jorgesca
2 years 10 months ago

Why should Pettite get in and Bonds, Clemens, Arod, etc not?

wally
Guest
wally
2 years 10 months ago

Because he was selflessly using PEDs to help the team….

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 10 months ago

An interesting contradiction. Personally, I don’t think PED use should be considered. IF MLB puts them on the ballot, they can be voted in. Pete Rose was removed from the ballot.

Little bit ambiguous about Pettitte being in the HOF. I can see it only because of the post season.

chuckb
Member
chuckb
2 years 10 months ago

He’ll be an interesting case in 5 years. Whereas Bonds, Clemens, and ARod are pretty universally portrayed in the media as being assholes, Pettitte is viewed very favorably by the media. I wonder if his HGH use will even be a topic of conversation in 5 years or will it all be about his Yankee-greatness, classy demeanor, and postseason success?

In my mind, he doesn’t belong, not because of the PED use (no one really knows how much or how little that helped) but because I don’t think he was quite good enough.

Right now there are a lot of worthy players on the outside looking in due to the media’s self-righteousness about suspected PED use, the DH, or other factors (Raines, Walker, Trammell). It would be a shame if Pettitte made it at their expense.

jorgesca
Member
jorgesca
2 years 10 months ago

Yeah I agree, I don’t think PED use should ban all time greats, maybe borderline ones. I’m not sure what to think of Pettite, I do value postseason play and that’s one of the reasons Shilling should be in IMO, but I don’t know about Pettite, maybe after all left out players are in, in 10-20 years, who knows.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

How many people even remembered that he did the PED stuff? But, he, along with only a handful of others (Giambi) have openly admitted it, right from the beginning, and have been largely welcomed back to the favorable side of the baseball community. Might be a lesson in there. You can be an asshole about it (Bonds, Clemens, A-rod) or you can be defiant about it (Palmiero), or you can be upfront and honest about it. The old adage that adults tell kids. “I dont care what you did. Just tell me the truth and I will forgive you”

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

@Cidron, I’d say the bigger lesson is that it’s important to get out ahead of it and dictate the story to make yourself look as good as possible. It’s entirely possible that Andy was using Clemens’ insane cocktails from 1998-2007, but by “coming clean” and saying that he used HGH a couple of times to come back from a bad elbow he made himself look much more sympathetic.

Iron
Guest
Iron
2 years 10 months ago

Agreed. It is not so much “Tell the truth” necessarily as it is “Lie plausibly’.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Who is saying that? By and large, no one on Fangraphs cares that much about PEDs, HGH especially.

Brian
Guest
Brian
2 years 10 months ago

I’m not inclined to quibble with whether Pettitte is a Hall of Famer. However, I will say that jumped out at me in this piece was the assertion that 7 wins is the threshhold for a “great” season. That seems rather excessive to me. By that measure, there will be not a single pitcher in MLB this year with a great season – not Kershaw, not Harvey, not Scherzer – and only one pitcher each year in each of the three previous years (and two of those by a hair at 7.0). That just seems a bit ridiculous to me at face value. While I agree that peak value is important, it seems rather arbitrary to pick a value that is totally exceptional. Incidentally, by that metric Warren Spahn is not a Hall of Famer.

Rogers Hornsby
Guest
Rogers Hornsby
2 years 10 months ago

Cliff Lee aaand Roy Halladay had 8+ in 2011, of course, Lee’s bat was part of that.

Brian
Guest
Brian
2 years 10 months ago

fWAR clocks Lee at 6.5 in 2011

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

so what if it was part of it. It helped the team garner wins, right? Are you gonna get on the “chicks love the long ball” Braves pitchers (maddux, glavine, smoltz) because of it too?

Zen Madman
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Harvey would have had 7+ fWAR if he didn’t get hurt, and Kershaw has 7+ bWAR, so I think yeah, those are two great seasons, though Harvey’s is incomplete.

Tanned Tom
Guest
Tanned Tom
2 years 10 months ago

Pettitte belongs. He’s 7th in wins for his era (behind Maddux, Clemens, Glavine, R. Johnson, Mussina, Moyer). His post season numbers matter of course. Other posters seem to think having an opportunity to achieve is the same thing as actual achievement. He got more chances, but he made a lot out of it. 3.81 ERA against the best teams in the game is very impressive, especially in the DH era.

Nope
Guest
Nope
2 years 10 months ago

Bias and ignorance are bias and ignorance. Thank you.

Rogers Hornsby
Guest
Rogers Hornsby
2 years 10 months ago

This is Fangraphs not Bleacher report.

ValueArb
Guest
ValueArb
2 years 10 months ago

A 3.81 playoff ERA is impressive? Smoltz, Glavine, Maddox, Schilling, Wells and Carpenter (among others) just laughed out loud. Petitte nickname should be “Being There”. Being on more good teams gave him more playoff starts than anyone so he could rack up counting stats at a decent, but not great rate, just like he did in the regular season.

The only pitcher who should get substantial extra credit for post season pitching is Schilling, the greatest ever.

Teams matter, and given the offenses Pettite pitched in front of his entire career, the fact he didn’t get anywhere near 300 wins is another indictment of his abilities.

Maddox, Pedro, Schilling, Smoltz, Mussina, Brown, Smoltz, Halladay, Sabathia, Glavine, and then maybe Pettite.

John Havok
Guest
John Havok
2 years 10 months ago

Yup, wins for pitchers is definitely a solid argument… /sarcasm

RageAgainstTheNarrative
Guest
RageAgainstTheNarrative
2 years 10 months ago

Postseason give Pettite opportunities that he wouldn’t have had on another team.

The thing is, he had opportunities to screw it up as well.

I put him bubble-in.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
2 years 10 months ago

You have to count postseason for the Hall of Fame.

It’s the Hall of Fame. We’re going to ignore the most watched and talked about games there are? The games where even the casual fan is glued to the TV? That makes zero sense.

It’s a museum about the history of baseball fer chrissakes. Fame matters. Postseason matters.

I think a player has to definitely earn at least bubble status with career, but postseason can help put him over the edge.

I’d put Pettitte in.

james wilson
Guest
james wilson
2 years 10 months ago

If Petite spent his career in Kansas City we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
2 years 10 months ago

Perhaps. But he didn’t. So we are.

Preston
Guest
Preston
2 years 10 months ago

If he spent his career in Kansas City you’d be complaining about how a great pitcher like Andy Pettitte isn’t being considered for the hall because he doesn’t have the wins or the Post Season numbers that were denied to him because of his crappy team.

ValueArb
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

What fans would think that a guy with a career 3.86 ERA was “great” if not for his wearing of pinstripes?

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Fans who know what a “run-environment” is.

ValueArb
Guest
ValueArb
2 years 10 months ago

Wouldn’t fans who understand what a run environment is also realize Pettite is 162nd in ERA+, behind Jimmy Key , Saberhagen, Mike Marshal, Buehrle, Aquilera, Messersmith, Cone, Steib, Appier, Reardon, Hudson, Tudor, Oswalt, Brown, Santana, Webb, among a hundred or so more non HOF pitchers?

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

And then what happens when you consider longevity?

He’s one of the 10 most valuable pitchers of the last 25 years by WAR. Call me crazy, but I think that qualifies as at least “very, very good” if not “great.”

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

Agreed. Is Bret Saberhagen in? he of the WS MVP (’85) WS Champion (’85), 2 Cy Young (’85 ’89), Gold Glove(’89), 3 time Allstar (’87 ’89 ’94) (on a team that had many other, so he wasnt ‘the KC representative as nobody else was worthy’), AL Comeback player of yr (’98). Not quite as gaudy as Pettite, not nearly the big market (with the big media) but, when Sabes retired, how many votes did he get for entry into the Hall? SEVEN votes total in the year that Ripken and Gwynn (only) got inducted with less votes than Paul O’neil, Albert Belle, Dale Murphy (and many others).

Patrick
Guest
Patrick
2 years 10 months ago

Don Denkinger was the real 85 WS MVP.

Ok, off topic.

PackBob
Guest
PackBob
2 years 10 months ago

It really depends where you draw the line and where to draw it has never been well defined. Even if WAR became precise, where to put the line would still be fuzzy because it’s a matter of opinion.

psualum
Guest
psualum
2 years 10 months ago

Andy Pettite is an admitted PED USER! If he gets in before the likes of McGuire, Bonds, et. all then I am through with caring even a small amount about the Hall

Zen Madman
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Not to mention Piazza, who has back acne as the spouted evidence of PED use.

KCDaveInLA
Guest
KCDaveInLA
2 years 10 months ago

Never forget: he was a YANKEE and/or RED SOX. That ESPN exposure is worth about 15 WAR right there. He will be voted in, shortly after Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina, both of whom spent just enough time as a YANKEE and/or RED SOX.

Brian
Guest
Brian
2 years 10 months ago

Schilling and Mussina are top-20 all-time WAR pitchers. Both should and likely will make the Hall of Fame. Where they played is irrelevant in statistical cases like theirs.

tz
Guest
tz
2 years 10 months ago

Is this why Don Mattingly and Thurman Munson got into the HOF ahead of Kirby Puckett?

http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=1010557,1008261,1009334

Brian
Guest
Brian
2 years 10 months ago

In looking through the all-time leaderboards, I was a little surprised that CC Sabathia clocks in at 61.5 fWAR. Sabathia and Halladay (67.8) appear to be the only active pitchers (non-Pettitte division) to have even 50 WAR. In light of the above discussion, do you guys think either needs another outstanding season, or is it enough for the two to be simply good pitchers (e.g. 3 WAR) each year for most of the rest of their careers in order to merit the Hall of Fame?

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
2 years 10 months ago

Doc should be in no doubt. If he’s not a hall of famer I don’t know who is.

CC prob has more work to do. He’s been underappreciated throughout his career I think. Never considered the number one pitcher even though he was pretty damn close to it for a lot of years.

dp04
Guest
dp04
2 years 10 months ago

He won the Cy Young in 2007… That is how pitchers are recognized as being the best.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

Eric Gagne ’03, Peavy ’07, Webb ’06, Colon ’05, Zito ’03. Hope you arent saying that they are worthy of serious HOF consideration as they also won the Cy Young

That Guy
Guest
That Guy
2 years 10 months ago

Good point. It totally counters the point that Sabathia hasn’t been underappreciated in his career.

ValueArb
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Sabathia as thrown 2775 innings with a 121 ERA+. Pettite threw 3,300 innings with a 117 ERA+. It’s likely CC ends up with many more innings and a similar ERA+, but given he pitched for old Yankee teams that weren’t as good as the ones Pettitte pitched for, he’ll never get the same acclaim.

Dan Greer
Member
Dan Greer
2 years 10 months ago

Well, Pettitte is better than Jack Morris in every way. So clearly he should get in, right?

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

That is pretty much the argument, yes.

AA
Guest
AA
2 years 10 months ago

Then you have to put Orel Hershiser in. He had the greatest post-season in history.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Intriguing, although that only helps Andy’s case, since he was better than Orel in literally every single way and has 3 big postseasons to his credit.

Alvaro
Guest
Alvaro
2 years 10 months ago

No real reason to ignore post-season value, this is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of the Fair Ground Statistical Achievers, his overall impact on the game is what would or would not qualify him, not just his stats over the regular season.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

one could argue that his chances have to include the post season as his regular season efforts (along with the rest of the team) got them INTO the post season.

That is the quirk of judging individual efforts in a team sport. And, over the length of the regular season, everybody will have a chance to shine, even a little bit. Even the lil backup middle infielder. Some will shine more of course.

jorgesca
Member
jorgesca
2 years 10 months ago

That’s why postseason WAR is used. If he had sucked he would have gotten negative WAR if he was average it really doesn’t help his cause, if he was great it just pushes his total WAR somewhat higher.

Carl Swenson
Guest
Carl Swenson
2 years 6 months ago

But he didn’t achieve that much in the postseason. A 3.81 ERA is not something to brag about

AA
Guest
AA
2 years 10 months ago

If you put Pettitte in, don’t you have to look at Hershiser? His peak was awesome. Of course, all those Jack Clark fans don’t realize that Orel was a better pitcher.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

He didnt even garner enough votes to stay on the ballot

Gee's Up, Hoes Down
Guest
Gee's Up, Hoes Down
2 years 10 months ago

No one has done a Keltner list for Pettitte? Just look at the first three questions.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
2. Was he the best player on his team?
3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

I think the answers are a pretty clear “No” for each. Not even close. Pettitte was never in the discussion for “best” of anything.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

Hard for a pitcher to do #2 as he is only there for 1/5 or so of the time. Ask the revised question “Was he the best pitcher (starting) on his team? ” By ‘best’ lets not stick to W/L, but go with innings, reliability, give your team a chance to win, etc etc.

That Guy
Guest
That Guy
2 years 10 months ago

There’s plenty of pitchers, especially guys who we’d discuss as HOF possibilities, like say, Verlander, who were the best player on their team in a given year.

Cidron
Member
Cidron
2 years 10 months ago

didnt say impossible. Just said very hard.

Ian R.
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

How often were Tom Glavine and John Smoltz the best pitchers on their teams? How often was Curt Schilling? Having great teammates (in Pettitte’s case, Clemens, Mussina, Oswalt and Sabathia) shouldn’t disqualify a player from the Hall.

Also, Pettitte was probably the best pitcher on his team in 1996 and 1997. That’s not great, but it’s better than nothing.

Bab
Guest
Bab
2 years 10 months ago

Very good pitcher with three dominant seasons, borderline HoF case, actually at the lower end of borderline cases, but will eventually make it because of his status with the Yankees.

Postseason play matters if you play in the postseason.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

I’d say “could” instead of “will,” but I pretty much agree with this.

Kaid
Guest
Kaid
2 years 10 months ago

Pettitte doesn’t deserve to be in the HOF.

Technicalities that favor Pettitte:

1) He used PEDs. It doesn’t matter what type or his alleged reason. He claimed to use them to get back to the Yankees in 2002. This is equivalent to ARod’s claim that he used steroids to perform up to his contract. Pettitte again used in 2004 by taking injections of HGH prescribed to his father. Although he admitted (twice) to using PEDs, he claims to only have used HGH, which wasn’t a rules violation when he used it.

2) He was the arguably the best pitcher on his team in 1995, 1996, 1997.

Technicalities that work against Pettitte’s candidacy for the HOF:

1) He was arguably never the best pitcher on his team, let alone in the league. It could be argued that in the previously mentioned seasons (1995-1997), David Cone was a better pitcher than Pettitte. Of course, Cone spent half of 1995 with the Blue Jays and half of 1996 injured, but the argument remains that Pettitte was never clearly the best pitcher on his tea. This is exacerbated by the legitimate argument that Pettitte was the worst pitcher in the Yankees 1998 rotation. The only other season where he may have been argued as the best in his rotation (though clearly not the staff ace) would be in 2002, a year when he admittedly used HGH.

2) His numbers are “eh” for the most part. 255-152 loses some of its luster when you consider his teams were 1688-1199 during his tenure. 3.86 ERA (117 ERA+), 1.354 WHIP, 2437 Ks seem like decent numbers, until you see that he racked up 3300 innings over his career.

2a) His postseason numbers are more romantic memory than fact. He didn’t do much better in the postseason than the regular season: 19-11, 3.81 ERA, 1.305 WHIP, 183 Ks in 276.2 innings. Basically, Pettitte’s postseason contributions amounted to one really good season, during which his postseason “team” record was 95-59. Pettitte was not the staff ace during his postseason “season” which also inflated his record a bit.

3) Pettitte never won any ROY/MVP/CYA award. The closest he came to a major individual award was 2001 ALCS MVP. He fails miserably on the “greatest in the game” measuring stick.

Pettitte doesn’t deserve to make it into Cooperstown without buying a ticket, but with the East Coast voter bias in place, he might have a chance of enshrinement anyway.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Pettitte was a lot more valuable than Cone in 1997.

garbageboy
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Could you have written this article in English, straight forward readable English? Here is an example of straight forward readable English: Cy Young,511 wins, HOF. End of story.

Garbage boy, indeed
Guest
Garbage boy, indeed
2 years 10 months ago

Big words is hard Thinkin is hard My brain hurts.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
2 years 10 months ago

isn’t this back to the “big” versus “small” HOF argument? Pettitte was a good pitcher, but very close to average most of his career. PED usage will keep any consideration he gets for the hall to 3-4 vote years after he retires. His numbers won’t look next to the guys that get in before him, Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz etc. So no, he is not a HOF pitcher.

Preston
Guest
Preston
2 years 10 months ago

Glavine is an inferior pitcher to Pettitte, if Pettittes a “compiler” what is Glavine, less WAR in over 1000 more innings pitched, only 2 seasons over 5 WAR none over 6.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
2 years 10 months ago

If there is one pitcher that FIP based WAR is clearly missing something on, it’s Glavine. His RA9-WAR is 88 vs. an fWAR of 64.3. Pettitte, OTOH has an RA9-WAR of 62 compared to an fWAR of 68.1.

Glavine is the better pitcher, IMO, and I’m a Pettitte fan!

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 10 months ago

It’s a nicely evaluated article but I’m not sure why it was written. The stats aren’t keeping Pettite out of the HOF, it’s his steriod use. If previously thought of no-brainer players Bonds, Clemons and McGuire can’t get in due to being steroid abusers, why would a borderline guy like Pettite even be considered?

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 10 months ago

Because the accepted story is that he didn’t use steroids, he used HGH, which was not a banned substance in the MLB at the time, in order to recover from an elbow injury.

Jim
Guest
Jim
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t believe Pettitte is Hall of Fam worthy. His ERA would be highest ERA if he were elected, this is same issue with Jack Morris. Pettitte’s average year would be 17-11 3.86 ERA no one would win the Cy Young with that so how can he be in Hall of Fame, plus he had luxury of being with winners most of his career.

Ryan Kelley
Guest
Ryan Kelley
11 months 6 days ago

Andy Pettitte should be a Hall of Famer, hands down.

Right now, the available statistics make it seem questionable. His career ERA and WHIP seem solid-average, nothing more, and a lot of his street cred is based on Wins–which many attribute more to randomness and luck than to pitcher skill.

However, here’s why Pettitte is one of the best pitchers ever.

Firstly, he posted a 3.74 career FIP largely pitching in an era where All-Star pitchers often had FIPs hovering around 5.00. He pitched in Yankee Stadium, in the AL East, when talent was so totally concentrated there that the Yankees and the AL East might as well have been an All-Star division.

He also pitched for Joe Torre, a manager that was notoriously ignorant when it came to managing pitchers, and was as apathetic about defense as he was as a player. Pettitte was a groundball/weak-contact pitcher, and his infield included Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter, while his outfield often included Bernie Williams in center and Paul O’Neil in right. Tim Hudson had Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez, the Mets rotation had Rey Ordonez and Edgardo Alfonzo, Maddux had Andruw Jones, Furcal and Jordan….

Additionally, Pettitte anchored the starting rotation of the modern game’s most successful dynasty. He pitched an average of 212 innings of quality 3.85 FIP baseball between 1996-2001. And then on top of that, he was one of the most reliable post season pitchers of his era.

When Pettitte was in a more neutral run environment, with a better defense, while the steroid era was coming to a close, he shined in Houston. And that’s when he was exiting his prime, and fighting through arm trouble.

If you account for all of the factors, and for the era, Pettitte is a hall of famer. He was at least 30 wins better than the average pitcher of that era, and a horse.

Starters that hit the DL as soon as their not in their elite shape protect their stats a great deal at the cost of their team. Pettitte gritted his teeth and pitched quality, 7-inning, three-run baseball through a lot of pain. The guys a warrior, and a competitor.

Ryan Kelley
Guest
Ryan Kelley
11 months 6 days ago

And the PEDs argument against him is misguided.

Firstly, every pitcher that wants to make money (which is every pitcher), uses HGH. It has become a totally normal part of the modern game. And you can’t blame them, as they lower the mound, the seams, and they’ve made the strikezone as tiny as possible. Pitchers have to physically harm themselves to get the ball past the bat…

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