COMMENTARY | A pair of pitching icons recently wrapped up long careers with the New York Yankees, raising the question about whether either or both are Hall of Fame worthy.
Scratch that. Mariano Rivera is walking in the moment he's eligible.
So, more correctly stated, it raises the question about whether Andy Pettitte is worthy of enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.
The numbers say he's a borderline candidate, at best.
Andy Pettitte pitched for 18 years and posted 256 wins with the Yankees and the Houston Astros from 1995-2010 and 2012-13. He made 531 career starts, pitched 3316 innings and posted an ERA of 3.85 and a WHIP of 1.351.
No pitcher with an ERA that high has ever been enshrined in Cooperstown and even though there could be a fair argument made that Pettitte pitched in the steroid era, when offensive numbers went through the roof, the fact is that there are pitchers with much better numbers who were his contemporaries.
Of pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched between 1995-2013, Pettitte's ERA is only the 47th best. Some of the less than luminary names ahead of him are Andy Ashby, Matt Garza and Paul Quantrill.
Pettitte's victory total is No. 1 over that time, but that may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory at best, considering the de-emphasis of the important of the pitching win in the modern era.
His innings pitched total is also No. 1 over the span of his career, more than 100 ahead of Livan Hernandez (yes, Livan Hernandez is second). So he showed up to work regularly. Admirable, but not necessarily Hall of Fame worthy.
He pitched in three All-Star games. He never won a Cy Young Award, finishing second in 1996 and fourth in 2000. The only major category he ever led the league in over his 18 years was when his 21 victories were tops in the American League in 1996.
If there was a Hall of Very Good, Pettitte's there. Hall of Fame, though? Not so much.
Supporters of Pettitte's candidacy would point to his postseason record, where he was 19-11 in 44 career starts. He had the benefit of pitching in 14 postseasons and he is the all-time postseason leader in victories.
But his postseason ERA of 3.81 doesn't exactly scream dominance. Much like his regular-season totals, Pettitte was an accumulator of big numbers without ever being a true standout.
Then, of course, is the elephant in the room.
Pettitte admitted to using human growth hormone when he got sucked into the abyss of the Roger Clemens fiasco. That will be enough to disqualify him from Hall of Fame consideration with many voters.
Honestly, the fact that he played during the so-called steroid era will be enough to eliminate him from consideration in the eyes of many Hall of Fame voters.
How else do you explain the voting results in 2013, when a player such as Craig Biggio, who was never connected to any steroid talk, couldn't reach the necessary threshold for enshrinement?
Pettitte was a very good pitcher for a very long time. But he never crossed that line; he was never a great pitcher.
Solid career. Worth debating. But Hall of Fame worthy? I say Andy Pettitte falls just short.
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Nets and New York Giants for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of Golden Gate Sports and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
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