Andy Pettitte is back..... HOF implications

As you may have heard, Andy Pettitte has returned to the New York Yankees.  The pitcher retired somewhat abrubtly, as his last season (2010) was a very good campaign that saw him go 11 and 3 with an All Star appearance, so there was reason to think he could continue.  Some have speculated that his retirement was brought on by his then impending role in the Roger Clemens trial, and as he has stated recently that he is "mentally ready to play", we have to wonder if there is some validity to that.

Regardless of his reasoning, Pettitte's return raises Hall of Fame questions for us.  We were not sure when he retired whether he was Cooperstown material or not.  Granted, he had a very impressive won/loss record of 240 and 138, but playing for some great teams certainly helped that statistic.  Quietly, he has raied himself to #48 all time, but his WHIP is average and only three times was he in the top ten in WAR (for pitchers).  We suspected, that he would have made our list but likely the bottom half.  

So we ask this....  what would Andy Pettitte have to do to make himself a lock for the Hall of Fame, or at least raise his chances?  He does not have enough juice left to get 300 wins, or 3,000 strikeouts (we don't think anyway), so that might be out.  Is it possible?  We would love to hear what you think.

Last modified on Thursday, 19 March 2015 18:47
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0 #9 Knuckles -0001-11-30 00:00
For Rizzuto, it's more about whom he broadcasted for than he was a broadcaster. George Steinbrener was in full bully mode for that one, plus a lot of NY nostalgia went into play. That being said, Rizzuto was a fine shortstop who definitely had his career impacted by the war.
Another name to add to that list is George Kell, who I contend was one of the finest ex-athlete broadcasters ever. You don't see to many ex-players doing play-by-play , but Kell did and he did it very well.
0 #8 Committee Chairman -0001-11-30 00:00
Pete Rose basically said as much in regards to Rizzuto.
0 #7 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
Well, although I think Pettitte has better credentials than Hunter, I still don't think Pettitte is a HoFer, and unless he really does get a second wind, there is not much he can do to change his legacy. But, as you point out, considering the track record of electing dubious Yankees pitchers to the Hall, Pettitte wouldn't be the worst of them--althou gh if he gets in and Mike Mussina doesn't . . .

As for other Yankees pitchers, I think you got them all unless you want to question Gossage a] for being a relief pitcher and/or b] not being a Yankee for all that long [although his time with the Yanks, seven years, was his longest with any club]. I do think Goose is Hall-worthy, although I've stated elsewhere that I'm leery of relief pitchers being Hall-worthy. Call me old-school, but I do give weight to the closers in Gossage' s era who really did come in to put out fires--being used in high-leverag e situations-- rather than the close-out-th e-ninth-rega rdless mindset of today, which piles up huge saves numbers but doesn't really tell the whole story. Then there's Jack Chesbro, the dead-ball guy who didn't pitch that long for the Yankees--and in fact they were known as the Highlanders in his day.

As for Griffith, he was a Veterans Committee pick as a player and not an exec. But you raise a good point: Did any player's non-playing career influence the voting on his playing career? This would seem to apply more to Veterans Committee inductees with the longer lead time; you mentioned Hoyt's broadcasting career--I wonder about another (non-pitcher ) Yankee, Phil "Holy Cow!" Rizzuto. Some of the player-manag ers might blur the lines, like Joe Cronin, who was voted in by the writers, or Lou Boudreau, who was also a broadcaster before he was voted in by the writers.
0 #6 Knuckles -0001-11-30 00:00
Fair points, DDT. I certainly see it as a strong argment. I'm not sold on Hunter as a HOFer, myself. I thought Griffith was in as an executive, though.
Outside of Whitey Ford, are there any HOF pitchers for the Yankees who are not questionable ? Pennock was a bad choice, IMHO. Lefty Gomez is purely in based on short peak. Red Ruffing and Waite Hoyt were good pitchers who really benefitted with great teams, while Hoyt may have been given a boost due to his broadcasting . If you look at the line, maybe Pettitte really does deserve it.
0 #5 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
Knuckles, I respectfully disagree. In the last analysis, although both were decent pitchers, neither one is worthy of the Hall. And in comparing the two, I give the edge to Pettitte. (And this is coming from a Red Sox fan.)

Although any comparison is always tricky, what makes the comparisons easier is that both Hunter and Pettitte had very similar careers in terms of games and innings pitched, so their records are more directly comparable. Where it gets tricky is in looking at the eras each pitched in, and there I have to give the edge to Pettitte. Competition gets progressivel y better, and Pettitte pitched most of his career in the toughest division, the AL East, in MLB, facing a DH instead of a pitcher. Hunter pitched in a non-DH AL for half his career, enjoyed the benefits of a pitcher-favo rable game (higher mound, bigger strike zone) for his first four years (not that it seemed to help him), and throughout faced generally more light-hittin g batters at positions such as middle infield (a Joe Morgan was an anomaly). I should note, though, that both Hunter and Pettitte enjoyed run support above the MLB average for his respective era, so that is a wash.

In two key qualitative stats, Pettitte emerges as the better pitcher. He has a higher WAR, 49.9 to Hunter
0 #4 Knuckles -0001-11-30 00:00
Pettitte was not as good as Hunter, IMHO. While I can understand why he's viewed as a mistake, Hunter probably got in because, while with Oakland he was viewed as one of the very best pitchers in the AL for several years and his career ended fairly early, so he may have received some credit for likely reaching major counting numbers. That's speculative, of course.
0 #3 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
Don't forget Catfish Hunter: He had the early-'7 0s A's and then the late-'70 s Yankees to back him up. He was league-avera ge (maybe the right-handed Pettitte?) but that WS gold got him into the Hall--and he's not a HoFer.
0 #2 Knuckles -0001-11-30 00:00
I've said it before and I'll say it again. No pitcher since WWII has beneffitted more from choice of teammates as Andy Pettitte. He's a lesser version of David Wells. No amount of stat-padding will help him. He is not a HOFer.
0 #1 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
Certainly legacy could be a factor in Pettitte' ;s decision. On the other hand, when you've been doing the same thing since you were a kid, and you've got to the highest level you can, it's hard to give it up. Ryne Sandberg retired for a year, but then came back to play two more seasons. Rickey Henderson 9;s last MLB season was 2003 but he didn't "offici ally" retire until 2007, and he had been playing in a couple of professional leagues post-MLB to keep himself in MLB-level trim. (None of which delayed his Hall eligibility, though.) A few months ago I read how Jose Canseco is a player-manag er for some pro team in Arizona and still has the hope that he could land with some MLB club. It's hard to let go--Pettitte is probably not immune to it.

As for what he can do to increase his Hall chances, which were borderline at best when he retired, there is nothing Pettitte can do legally unless he took the year to develop a knuckleball that could keep him pitching through his 40s a la Wilhelm, the Niekros, Hough. (A left-handed knuckleballe r? I'-) have to look that up.) Otherwise, the talent compression in MLB is just too high--there are too many good players competing for too few roster slots, and this is a young man's game.

On the other hand, if Pettitte can accept a bullpen slot, there is usually a place for a lefty reliever (set-up, LOOGY, etc.). Jesse Orosco pitched until he was 46 (albeit not well in his final year). The Yankees might need more starting pitching, but I doubt Pettitte is it, and I suspect the Yankees are being polite based on his history with them--but they're businessmen, and Pettitte would have to be lights-out in spring training for them to seriously consider him.

So, I don't think there is much Pettitte can do to enhance his Cooperstown odds. But you never know . . .

. . . and as for the PEDs-Clemens situation, I won't swing at that offering here.

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