Andy Pettite retires, is he a Hall of Famer?

Well, tomorrow Andy Pettitte will officially retire. For the 2011 Yankees, this sucks. While I don’t believe Andy would have pitched as well as he did in 2010, he is a considerably better option than Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Sergio Mitre, etc, etc for a spot in the rotation. So even at $12mil, Andy is worth that to this specific Yankee team. I can only imagine he would be a 1.5-2 win upgrade compared to our current next best option, so he honestly could be the make or break player/reason the Yankees miss out on the playoffs.

But Andy is not coming back, and as a fan, I cannot complain. He’s been a wonderful talent to watch, and a true competitor. I don’t want to sound all MSMish, but his toughness and appetite to win was fun to watch. For many seasons he was the Yankees star pitcher, and while the Yankees aren’t typically known for their pitching, that’s still an impressive label to carry considering how strong a team the Yankees have been while he’s played for them.

Andy Pettitte has had a good career, but is it a Hall of Fame career?

To begin, Pettitte was a true workhorse. He made 30+ starts in thirteen of his sixteen seasons. Moreover, he did everything well that a pitcher could control. He had a 6.63 K rate, 2.83 BB rate, 0.77 HR rate, and has been successful at inducing lots of ground balls, which usually turn into lots of outs. By limiting walks, keeping the ball in the park, and inducing grounders, Pettitte was able to go deep into ballgames and prevent runs, two significant things a pitcher can do to help his team win, and provide value to them. As a result, Andy had a 3.75 FIP and 66.9 fWAR. In fact, his fWAR/200 is 4.4. That’s not just good. That’s Hall of Fame good.

HOWEVER, bWAR disagrees. His bWAR is 50.2, or 3.3/200 IP. That’s a whole win lower than his fWAR/200. Moreover, his WAR goes from above the HOF standard, to well below it. Yikes. So as a rule of thumb, you average the two. His aWAR would be 58.9 and his aWAR/200 would be 3.8.

So Andy is legitimately borderline right now. His aWAR of 58.9, would just about put him on the Hall of Fame line. Of all players that come to mind, I don’t think a single player is more borderline than Andy Pettitte. If there was an actual line or standard to get into the Hall of Fame, it would be the Andy Pettitte line. I mean, his numbers and rate stats are good, but not OUTSTANDING. Yet he made a lot of starts and threw a lot of innings in the seasons he played, gaining a lot of value. He had 1 WAM season, and another TWELVE WAE seasons (and in two of the three seasons he didn’t 3+ WAR he missed half the season and otherwise would have got 3+ WAR). So Andy Pettitte was pretty much an excellent player for his ENTIRE career with a couple near MVP seasons along the way.

Looking at it right now, I can’t make up my mind on Andy. As I said, he is as borderline as it gets. If he got voted in, I’d agree. If he missed out, I wouldn’t complain. HOWEVER, if you had to lean in a certain way, the way to lean is PRO-HOF- for a couple reasons.

For one, we haven’t even looked at his postseason numbers. While he didn’t pitch as well in the postseason (4.17 FIP, 263 innings), he still accumulated a significant chunk of innings in the postseason. Although we don’t have a database of postseason WAR, if those numbers actually counted, I think it would have made Andy’s numbers look better, especially in terms of WAR.

Second, just go to Tom Tango. In 2009 he wrote:

QUOTE:

As I’ve talked about in the past, the best way to get a sense of someone’s place in history is to compare the player to his peers.  And typically, you get about 20-25 players elected to the Hall of Fame for every decade of birth years (with about one-third of those pitchers).

AND today… :

Andy Pettitte was born in June of 1972.  If we look at every pitcher born within 4.5 years of him (the nine years from 1968 to 1976), we get this list:

#1. Pedro
#2. Mussina
#3. Mariano Rivera
#4. Andy Pettitte
#5. Tim Hudson

We see that Pettitte is somewhere on the cusp of good to great.  I look forward to seeing Pettitte’s name on the Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years.  He deserves that much at least.

So if for a given generation 20-25 players make the HOF and 6-8 or so are pitchers, than it looks like Andy Pettitte is easily a HOF’er. That may speak more to the fact that the current generation is weaker than other generations (especially the one preceding it) but either way, it strengthens Andy’s case.

So yeah, Andy Pettitte the take it or leave it HOF candidate.

 

AND just for fun, lets compare him to fellow soft tossing lefty Tom Glavine, who is just about a lock for the HOF.

Pettitte: 3055 IP, 6.63 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9, 66.9 fWAR, 4.4 fWAR/200, 20.1 WAE, 2.4 WAM

Glavine: 4413 IP, 5.32 K/9, 3.06 BB/9, 0.73 HR/9, 68.5 fWAR, 3.1 fWAR/200, 16.2 WAE, 0 WAM

So yeah. Despite tossing about 1400 less innings, Pettitte has pretty much the same fWAR, a much better fWAR/200, and has accumulated more WAE and WAM. If Glavine is a HOF’er, why not Pettitte?

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One Comment on “Andy Pettite retires, is he a Hall of Famer?”

  1. jeterian24 Says:

    Hey Hill. It’s YC. Just checking in. Hows Rutgers going?

    Great read and if you don’t mind I want to use some points of your article in an argument or debate I might have over at another site. Well good luck enjoy the Super Bowl. I know you’re a Steelers fan.


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