Andy Pettitte is on the ballot for the third year. The five-time champion has a lot of ground to make up but still has time. Will he make it to Cooperstown?
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Andrew Eugene Pettitte was selected in the 22nd round of the 1990 MLB draft by the New York Yankees. He decided to attend San Jacinto College (Houston, TX). About a year later he signed with the Yankees. Pettitte finally made his MLB debut in 1995. His career started off strong that season as he pitched to a 4.17 ERA and a 12-9 record in 175 innings. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Marty Cordova and Garret Anderson. He started Game 2 against the Seattle Mariners in what would be an epic inaugural Wild Card Series. Pettitte wound up with a no-decision in the first of 44 playoff games he started as the Yankees won the game thanks to Jim Leyritz in the 15th inning.
Big Piece of the Dynasty
Pettitte became the ace of the Yankees staff in 1996. He won 21 games and finished second in Cy Young voting to Pat Hentgen. He was an All-Star and even got a few MVP votes. The Yankees dynasty was born as they won the first of their four World Series over five seasons. Pettitte would pitch well for the Bronx Bombers and be a workhorse for nine seasons until 2003. In that first stint with the Yankees, he finished top-6 in CYA voting and was an All-Star twice. He averaged nearly 200 innings per year, won 149 games, and pitched to a solid 3.94 ERA (117 ERA+).
The Houston Years
After the 2003 season, Pettitte signed a three-year deal with the Houston Astros. While his 2004 season was shortened due to elbow issues, the big lefty bounced back in 2005. He had a career-best 2.39 ERA and led the Astros to their first National League pennant. Along with Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt, the Astros had a formidable rotation. They would ultimately get swept by the Chicago White Sox. In Game 2 of that series, Pettitte outdueled fellow Cooperstown hopeful Mark Buehrle for six innings, but the Sox would eventually win the game on Scott Podsednik‘s unlikely HR off of Brad Lidge.
Back to the Bronx
After another solid season in 2006, Pettitte decided to sign with the Yankees. Going basically year to year from there, the veteran southpaw brought his Yankees back to the World Series in 2009. It would be Pettitte’s eighth World Series and he secured his fifth ring. In 2010, he would make his third and final All-Star appearance. Before the 2011 season, Pettitte announced his retirement. It lasted one year as he came back to the Bronx for two more seasons in 2012 and 2013. Pettitte finally hung them up for good after an excellent 2013 season at 41 years old. Pettitte went out with a gem as he pitched a complete game against the Astros on September 28, 2013, winning 2-1 in his final major league start.
Amazingly in the storied history of the Yankees, Pettitte leads All-Time in strikeouts with 2,020. He was top-6 in CYA voting five times and won 256 games. In fact, Pettitte never had a losing record. He made 30+ starts 13 times and threw 200+ innings 10 times. Pettitte only once had an ERA+ under 100 (97 in 2008). While he was never a big strikeout pitcher, he did have 2,448 for his career. He was the ALCS MVP in 2001 and his postseason stats are good.
While Pettitte won a lot of games and his .626 winning percentage is impressive, much of that can be attributed to the run support he was afforded by the dominant Yankees. His ERA of 3.85, ERA+ of 117, and K/BB rate of 2.37 are along the lines of fellow pitchers Buehrle (3.81, 117, 2.55) and Tim Hudson (3.49, 120, 2.27). That is just to say that he wasn’t nearly a dominant pitcher of his era.
Pettitte is certainly more “famous” than the aforementioned Buehrle and Hudson, but his stats don’t move the needle. He may get some more BBWAA respect, but as many writers give him a bump for wins, many will leave Pettitte off the ballot for his HGH use. Coming up from 9.9 percent his first year and 11.3 percent last year, it doesn’t seem like Pettitte has a ton of support. He was a very good pitcher for a long time, but he is not a Hall of Famer.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images