All day, I was bouncing around work telling people how “epic” I thought Pedro Martinez versus Andy Pettitte was bound to be.
And it should have been.
I mean, here they are…448 and 235 (a staggering .656 winning percentage) for their stories careers, a combined 3.42 ERA, 5304 strikeouts and the eyes of Philadelphia and New York watching their every pitch.
In the past, Pedro had allowed the Yankees to be his “Daddy”…could he exorcise those demons?
With his Game Three victory, Pettitte became the all-time leader in postseason wins with 17….could he add to that total?
And after all, this was a Game Six and as we know, ANYTHING can happen and often times (ask the 1975 Red Sox, 1986 Mets or the 1993 Blue Jays)…it does.
So there I was, ready to call it a night, watch some baseball and grant myself a reprieve from contributing to anything online when I received the following tweet from good friend of The Hall (and frequent contributor over at Full Count Pitch) David Allan:
“Can we stop with the Pettitte for Hall of Fame love fest?”
My fear is that no, we can’t…and won’t.
Anytime that a Yankee has the success that Pettitte has had, particularly on the biggest stage possible (Hell, I’ve even been reading “Jorge Posada for the Hall of Fame” stories lately)…there is going to be talk.
Unlike Posada (who is not a potential Hall of Famer), with Pettitte, it is hard to discern at first glance, whether or not it is warranted.
Sure, you can do what Colin Linneweber at Bleacher Report did and simply state “Andy Pettitte is a Hall of Fame Pitcher” and cite solely his winning percentage (.629) World Series rings (now, five) as the reason.
But you’d be dead wrong and come across as not very knowledgeable.
The problem with Colin’s statements are many. Most noticeably, is the fact that five rings with the Yankees isn’t THAT impressive (David Cone has five rings and can’t sniff Cooperstown, Paul O’Neill has the same amount and won’t see the mandatory five percent to stay on the ballot) and the winning percentage (while impressive) is only good for ninth among active players.
Sure, a 229-135 record is good, don’t get me wrong, but in an era where Pettitte competed alongside such Hall of Fame shoe-ins as Greg Maddux (355 wins), Roger Clemens (354), Tom Glavine (305) and Randy Johnson (303)…being 63rd all-time isn’t turning any heads.
Now, while it is true that there are those in Cooperstown (Catfish Hunter has 224 wins) or on the verge of getting there (Pedro Martinez is at 219), but they both have something Pettitte never brought home.
If you’ve read anything here at The Hall, you know I’m big on the accolades and unlike Hunter and Martinez who have four Cy Young Awards and 11 top four finishes between them…Pettitte only once came close to sniffing the award.
In 1996, his second year in the bigs, Pettitte finished 21-8 and could easily have been considered the ace on a staff that guided the Yankees to 92 wins and a World Series ring. That is the same year, he grabbed 11 first place votes and finished second to the Blue Jays Pat Hentgen.
Ironically, if Mariano Rivera doesn’t get a first place vote and it goes to Pettitte…the big Texan brings home the award.
All that aside, I can’t belittle a guy for his lack of Cy Young Awards and paltry two All-Star appearances when he has a fist full of rings and the most victories in postseason history.
And how about those 18 postseason wins that everyone (myself included) seems to eventually bring up?
Pretty impressive, right?!?
No one ever brings up that he also has the most starts (40) and third most losses (nine) all-time in the postseason. Bless me with having the best closer ever behind me and an offense that produces runs at an All-World clip and I, too, will win close to two-thirds of my starts.
I guarantee it.
Now, I want to go back to the regular season and call out the two biggest gorillas in the room…ERA and strikeouts.
Pettitte’s career ERA is 3.91.
Let me repeat that. Pettitte’s career ERA is 3.91 and if he would happen to make it to the podium for that hot July speech, he would go in with the highest ERA (by far) of anyone else enshrined.
It can be defended that this is a hitters’ era, but when you look at the guys I mentioned before (Maddux, Clemens, Glavine and Johnson), the highest ERA in the bunch is Glavine’s 3.54 and while not spectacular…300-plus wins and 2700 Ks will help garner a few votes.
The baseball writers are silly like that.
And what about Pettitte’s strikeout totals?
While he was never considered a power pitcher (his 2.8 walks per nine innings shows he was more of a control guy), his 2150 strikeouts isn’t likely to turn many heads when it comes to a Hall vote.
Strikeouts, like home runs, are a stat that voters can look at and qualify based on certain, pre-determined benchmarks.
For example…all but one eligible player (Mark McGwire) with more than 500 home runs is in the Hall. Similarly, there is only one eligible pitcher (Bert Blyleven) with more than 3000 strikeouts that is on the outside looking in.
Failing to meet some of the minimum requirements, if you will, won’t help Pettitte earn any favors.
Lastly, there is that press conference from February 2008 where he admitted to using HGH while playing in New York in 2002 and with the Astros in 2004.
Would Pettitte have come out and admitted use had he not been fingered by both former teammate Jason Grimsley and former trainer Brian McNamee? Probably not.
Would he have come clean had he not been one of the biggest names to have been named in the Mitchell Report? Probably not.
Can we be sure that those were the only times that Pettitte used the drugs and his reasons were legitimate? Probably not.
Will the writers forget all this when it is Pettitte’s time to face the jury and be selected for enshrinement? Say it with me…probably not.
As it is, the BBWAA has only had one player to vilify so far and while he, Mark McGwire, was only suspected of using performance enhancers, odds are he is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to NOT allowing substance abusers (or those suspected of being one) into the Hall of Fame.
My gut tells me that, if, for some reason, Pettitte’s numbers upon retirement garner him any sort of Hall of Fame consideration (and honestly, I am not sure they will), his coming clean about steroids won’t help his cause.
And since you made it this far, I am obligated to finish this thing with the trite…“the Yankees beat the Phillies to capture their record 27th championship”.
Now, I know you knew that already…but isn’t that much better than spending the last sentence of an “is Andy Pettitte a Hall of Famer” talking about how steroids will likely be the biggest contributing factor as to why Pettitte does not get into the Hall?
Wait…I think I just did.