New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte announced on Friday that he will retire at the end of the season, his 18th in majors. So if the Yankees fail to make the postseason he will make two more starts in his career, the first of which will come Sunday against the San Francisco Giants. To this point in 2013 he is 10-10 with a 3.93 ERA, 6.2 K/9 rate and a 2.6 K/BB ratio over 28 starts (169.1 innings).
Pettitte previously retired in February of 2011, only to return to the Yankees in May of 2012. It’s safe to say this second retirement will be his last at age 41, so now the discussion will surely start about the left-hander’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Is Pettitte a sure-fire Hall of Famer? Let’s look at his resume.
Pettitte has 255 career regular season wins as of this writing, which is good for 42nd on the all-time list and 11th all-time among left-handed pitchers, along with a 3.86 ERA over 3,300 innings pitched. He also ranks 37th all-time in strikeouts (2,437) and 39th in games started (519). Pettitte’s consistency should be noted, as he has posted double-digit wins in every season of his career (16 out of 18) in which he has made at least 21 starts.
Any mention of Pettitte has to include his postseason record, as he is 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA over 44 starts. He was part of five World Series-winning Yankees’ teams (1996, 1998-2000, 2009) and eight teams that made it to the World Series (seven with New York, one with the Houston Astros), assuming the Yankees don’t make it that far (or win) this year.
The negatives on Pettitte’s Hall of Fame resume include zero Cy Young Awards, only three All-Star selections (1996, 2001, 2010), just two 20-win seasons (21 in 1996 and 2003) and his admission of HGH usage in connection to his long-time friendship with Roger Clemens.
Playing in the New York media market for the majority of his career will surely help Pettitte get plenty of Hall of Fame votes when he becomes eligible. His admission of HGH use also carries a certain level of nobility compared to some of his peers, who have either avoided questions about performance-enhancing drug use or remained steadfast in their denials despite evidence to the contrary.
Pettitte will definitely go down as one of the best pitchers of his era, even if an argument can be made that he benefitted greatly from having talented teammates around him. Leaving aside any connection to performance-enhancing drugs, admitted or otherwise, Pettitte is not an all-time great and thus not a Hall of Famer in my opinion.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.