Voting for next year’s Baseball Hall of Fame class is underway and, per usual, former Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte isn’t making the cut.
It’s a simple numbers game. Pettitte is in his sixth year on the ballot and only received 17% of the required votes last winter. It doesn’t help matters that this year has a borderline first-balloter in Adrian Beltre, the longtime star third baseman. Longtime Rockies slugger Todd Helton and former Mets closer Billy Wagner could also cross the finish line after coming close in 2023.
But even still, Andy Pettitte and his Hall of Fame stock are clearly rising. That 17% last year marked a personal best and the big lefty had usually been in the 10-15% range on prior ballots.
So what’s really holding up Pettitte getting the call to Cooperstown? Well, for one, he’s been on some competitive ballots since becoming eligible. Namely former teammates Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, plus longtime Boston nemesis David Ortiz.
Some critics also like to point to his admitted PED use. Pettitte admitted in 2007 that he used human growth hormone (HGH) twice in 2002. He had an elbow injury and wanted to heal quicker. Quite a far cry from Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, who were clearly looking for a leg-up and then actively tried to cover their tracks.
But by the numbers? It’s hard to deny that Andy Pettitte isn’t deserving. He played for 18 years, plus a one-year retirement in 2011, and still won 256 games. Pettitte posted a respectable 3.85 ERA over that stretch and took home five World Series rings with the Yankees.
And speaking of those rings, how about Pettitte’s playoff resume? His 19 postseason wins are still the most all-time. No other pitcher has tossed more playoff innings than Pettitte’s 276.2. In 2009, he was on the mound for each of the Yankees’ series-clinching wins from ALDS to World Series.
It almost makes you forget that for all of these accomplishments, Andy Pettitte was never a pitching staff’s tried and true ace. He was always the durable and reliable No. 2 in his prime. This explains his making only three All-Star Games.
But the rest of the numbers? Absolutely Hall-of-Fame worthy. They make even more sense when you match Pettitte’s stats up with another Hall of Fame arm, Jack Morris. Both pitched for 18 years and Morris’ five All-Star selections came from years of being the ace in Detroit. He was a household name and won three World Series rings of his own.
And Morris’ career marks? 254 wins and a 3.90 ERA aren’t too far from Pettitte. They’re very much the same by today’s standard, even if Morris was largely considered an ace in his prime.
Strange indeed, considering Morris’s 43.5 career bWAR is dwarfed by Pettitte’s 60.2.
We can digest stats upon stats upon stats to justify Andy Pettitte’s Hall of Fame candidacy, but let’s simplify instead. In a Steroid Era defined by increased velocity in pitching and more power-hitting, Pettitte survived on finesse.
His fastball rarely touched 90 mph, nor was he ever a strikeout pitcher. Pitching in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium and the competitive AL East meant only three seasons with a sub-3 ERA. At no point was Andy Pettitte the best pitcher in baseball by any stretch.
But then again, neither was Jack Morris.
The numbers don’t lie and the writers/voters watch them happen in real time. It might not happen this year but rest assured. Andy Pettitte belongs in the Hall of Fame.