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Hall of Fame Case: Andy Pettitte

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Andy Pettitte is on the ballot for the sixth year. The five-time champion has a lot of ground to make up and is running out of time. He looked like he may be trending in the right direction, getting 13.7 percent of the vote in 2021. However, Pettitte took a step back in 2022 with just 10.7 percent. Last year he managed to get to 17.0 percent. He will need to make up a lot of ground in the last half of his candidacy.

Be sure to check out our other Hall of Fame cases: Bobby Abreu | Billy Wagner | Mark Buehrle | Omar Vizquel

Career Summary

Andrew Eugene Pettitte was selected in the 22nd round of the 1990 MLB draft by the New York Yankees. He decided to attend San Jacinto College (Houston, TX). About a year later he signed with the Yankees. Pettitte finally made his MLB debut in 1995. His career started off strong that season as he pitched to a 4.17 ERA and a 12-9 record in 175 innings. The big lefty finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Marty Cordova and Garret Anderson. He started Game Two against the Seattle Mariners in what was an epic inaugural Wild Card Series. Pettitte wound up with a no-decision in the first of 44 playoff games he started as the Yankees won the game thanks to Jim Leyritz in the 15th inning.

Big Piece of the Dynasty

Pettitte became the ace of the Yankees staff in 1996. He won 21 games and finished second in Cy Young voting to Pat Hentgen. He was an All-Star and even got a few MVP votes. The Yankees dynasty was born as they won the first of their four World Series over five seasons. Pettitte pitched well for the Bronx Bombers and was a workhorse for nine seasons until 2003. In that first stint with the Yankees, he finished top six in Cy Young voting four times and was an All-Star twice. He averaged nearly 200 innings per year, won 149 games, and pitched to a solid 3.94 ERA (117 ERA+).

The Houston Years

After the 2003 season, Pettitte signed a three-year deal with the Houston Astros. While his 2004 season was shortened due to elbow issues, the big lefty bounced back in 2005. He had a career-best 2.39 ERA and led the Astros to their first National League pennant. Along with Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt, the Astros had a formidable rotation. They ultimately got swept by the Chicago White Sox. In Game Two of that series, Pettitte outdueled fellow Cooperstown hopeful Mark Buehrle for six innings, but the Sox would eventually win the game on Scott Podsednik‘s unlikely HR off of Brad Lidge.

Back to the Bronx

After another solid season in 2006, Pettitte decided to sign with the Yankees. Going year to year from there, the veteran southpaw brought his Yankees back to the World Series in 2009. It would be Pettitte’s eighth World Series, and he secured his fifth ring. In 2010, he made his third and final All-Star appearance. Before the 2011 season, Pettitte announced his retirement. It lasted one year as he returned to the Bronx for two more seasons in 2012 and 2013. Pettitte finally hung them up for good after an excellent 2013 season at 41 years old. Pettitte went out with a gem as he pitched a complete game against the Astros on September 28, 2013, winning 2-1 in his final major league start.

The Case for Pettitte

Amazingly in the storied history of the Yankees, Pettitte leads the franchise in strikeouts with 2,020. He is also tied with Whitey Ford for the most starts (438). He was top six in CYA voting five times and won 256 games. In fact, Pettitte never had a losing record. He made 30+ starts 13 times and threw 200+ innings 10 times. Pettitte only once had an ERA+ under 100 (97 in 2008). While he was never a big strikeout pitcher, he did have 2,448 for his career, which is good enough for 46th all-time. He was the ALCS MVP in 2001 and his postseason stats are good and in line with his career numbers during the regular season.

The Case Against Pettitte

While Pettitte won a lot of games and his .626 winning percentage is impressive, much of that can be attributed to the run support he was afforded by the dominant Yankees. His ERA of 3.85, ERA+ of 117, and K/BB rate of 2.37 are along the lines of fellow pitchers Buehrle (3.81, 117, 2.55), who is still on the ballot, and Tim Hudson (3.49, 120, 2.27) who fell off the ballot in his second year. That is to say that he wasn’t nearly a dominant pitcher of his era and is comparable to other pitchers on the ballot.


Pettitte is certainly more “famous” than the aforementioned Buehrle and Hudson, but his stats don’t move the needle. He may get some more BBWAA respect, but as many writers give him a bump for wins, many will leave Pettitte off the ballot for his HGH use. Coming up to only 17 percent last year, it doesn’t seem like he has a ton of support. He was a very good pitcher for a long time, but we have seen that consistency is not what many voters look for. Without a ton of "black ink" on his baseball-reference page, Pettitte may fall short.

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