Andy Pettitte for the Hall of Fame? As far as I know, no one has seriously made the argument. For most of Pettitte’s career, he has been considered a terrific second level pitcher — seldom the team’s ace and usually the number two guy, the man you want to pitch the second game of an important series. That’s been the case this year, with Pettitte pitching behind C.C. Sabathia in the rotation.
I’m not saying that the perception is wrong. I’m just saying that Pettitte, if he continues to pitch in the postseason as he did last night against the Minnesota Twins, is building a case for himself.
First, Pettitte’s career during the regular season has been pretty good. He’s won more than 20 games twice with 240 wins and 138 losses for a W-L percentage of .635, which puts him 43rd on the all-time list of pitchers with 1000 or more innings thrown. If you confine the list, though, to 20th and 21st century pitchers, Pettitte ranks number 34.
Yes, of course, he has pitched for very good teams and would be expected to have a high W-L pct. But much the same can be said for most of the pitchers among the W-L pct leaders, especially former Yankees such as Spud Chandler (7.17), Whitey Ford (.690), Vic Raschi (.667), Roger Clemens (.658), Ron Guidry (6.51), Lefty Gomez (.649), and Johnny Murphy (.647).
In Baseballreference.com’s Pettitte pages, Andy is ranked with Juan Marichal, Catfish Hunter, and Whitey Ford – Hall of Famers all. When comparing him to “similar pitchers through age 38” they list Carl Hubbell, Ford, and Herb Pennock as well as Tom Glavine, who eventually will be in the Hall.
But that’s just for regular season performance. Some say the postseason shouldn’t be considered when voting for the HOF because not all pitchers have the same number of opportunities. But how, in Pettitte’s case, can you ignore the postseason? The Yankees played the games and he pitched them — what are we supposed to do, pretend they never happened?
Counting his clutch win over the Twins, Pettitte is now 19-9 in the playoffs and World Series for a W-L of .679. He holds the record for most starts, innings pitched and wins. Let’s say that if he were to win, oh, two more games in 2010 wouldn’t 20 or more postseason wins present a formidable credential for Pettitte being voted into the Hall? He’d get my vote.