Last week I ran some numbers and concluded that Andy Pettitte, while obviously a borderline Hall of Fame candidate, probably just clears the bar.
My friend Tim Marchman isn't having any of it:
I saw where Rob Neyer and Joe Sheehan both endorsed Andy Pettitte as a Hall of Famer, and while that does zero as far as making me reconsider my opinion, it does more than zero to make me think that laying out my reasoning might be worth a minute. So here are the basic arguments for Pettitte and the reasons why they are wrong.
First, I can't speak for Joe but my "endorsement" was pretty tepid. He's one of those Hall of Fame candidates who strike me differently depending on the day of the week. Or the year. I was for some time an advocate for Dale Murphy; today, not so much (though, as always, I'm willing to be convinced). I did argue that Pettitte, by the historical standards of the institution, is a pretty solid candidate. And yes, today I would be inclined to vote for him.
Anyway, after the jump you'll find Tim's list of arguments for Pettitte and their rebuttals, plus my tepid response ...
Argument: He pitched for the Yankees. Rebuttal: Who cares?
Argument: He pitched a lot in October. Rebuttal: So what?
Argument: He pitched in offense-heavy era. Rebuttal: Yes, and even after adjusting for that, his numbers aren't great.
Argument: There are more teams in this era, so there should be more Hall of Famers. Rebuttal: Sure, but there are plenty of great pitchers who deserve to be enshrined before Pettitte.
Argument: There are worse pitchers in the Hall of Fame. Rebuttal: Yes, and if you put in all the guys who are better than the worst Hall of Famers, they'll have to build an annex in Oneonta.
I've been paraphrasing, of course. But I can't help noticing that with the possible exception of No. 2, none of those are the actual arguments I made. What I said was that Pettitte's regular-season statistics -- granted, I focused mostly on wins and ERA+ -- place him in the middle of a bunch of good pitchers, some in the Hall of Fame and some not. And if you give him a dollop of extra credit for winning 18 postseason games, maybe he moves a little closer to the pitchers who are in.
Instead of looking at wins (as I did), Tim looks at innings pitched, which is fair because pitching for the Yankees gave Pettitte more chances for wins. But innings aren't perfect, either, because pitchers in the old days might go 300 or more innings in one season.
This still doesn't help Pettitte much. He pitched slightly more than 3,000 innings. Among pitchers with at least 2,750 innings since 1980, Pettitte's ERA+ ranks 12th, behind a bunch of future Hall of Famers but also behind Kevin Brown, Dave Stieb and David Cone. Granted, none of those pitchers have Pettitte's postseason record, but then he doesn't deserve a lot of credit for that because he wasn't a postseason standout. Basically, he did in October what he did in the previous six months.
Perhaps more damning than anything, none of the pitchers just behind Pettitte on the ERA+ list are serious Hall of Fame candidates, at all. It goes Pettitte, Chuck Finley, Frank Viola, Orel Hershiser, Dwight Gooden.
OK, I'm convinced. Pettitte falls just short.