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Thursday, February 3, 2011
Andy Pettitte retires, has Hall-of-Fame case


Andy Pettitte
Pettitte
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte called team owner Hal Steinbrenner to inform him of his decision to retire.

There is something to be said for going out on top; Pettitte went 11-3 in his final season. That .786 win percentage is the highest in MLB history for a pitcher in his final season (minimum 20 starts). The man just behind him on that list? Sandy Koufax.

Pettitte, who has been a member of five World Series championship teams, will retire with 19 career postseason wins, more than any other pitcher. John Smoltz, second on the list with 15, recorded his in only 27 postseason starts while Pettitte started all 42 of the playoff games in which he appeared.

Because of all those starts, Pettitte is also third all-time in postseason losses with 10, behind likely Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.

Pettitte may have a tough time getting elected to the Hall of Fame after he admitted using HgH during the 2002 season. Players who have been caught, accused of or admitted to using performance enhancing drugs have received little support in recent years from the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Not to mention, if he wants to be enshrined, he may have to get in line behind Jack Morris (who received 53.5 percent of votes in 2010 and was not elected in his 12th year of eligibility).

But when you use ERA+, a stat designed to adjust ERA for ballpark and league average, it shows that Pettitte was superior to Morris and nearly identical to future inductee Bert Blyleven (ERA+ comes from Baseball Reference).

Among pitchers with 225 career wins, Pettitte’s 25 complete games are by far the fewest. Jamie Moyer -- second on that list with 33 -- is the only other pitcher with fewer than 54 complete games. Additionally, Pettitte’s four shutouts are the fewest among pitchers with 225 victories.

On the other hand, since he entered the league in 1995, no lefty has more wins than Pettitte. Randy Johnson -- another likely Hall of Famer who is second on the list-- won eight games in his last major-league season. He would have needed three more years with that kind of production to pass Pettitte.

Consistency was the hallmark of Pettitte's 16-year career. Only two pitchers in history -- one a Hall of Famer and one who is sure to be -- have recorded more consecutive seasons with a win percentage of .500 or better.