Is Andy Pettitte a Hall of Famer?

Hi there. I’m back after a prolonged offseason hibernation. Over the last several months there’s been a fair amount of the annual “Is he a Hall of Famer” debate. There’s the “the numbers tell me” argument, which tends to help players like Bert Blyleven. And there’s the “my eyes tell me” argument, which tends to favor players like Jack Morris. Here’s a fusion of the two, using our “eyes” to look at “the numbers” courtesy of Rankometer.

With Rankometer, we examine a pitcher’s career by visualizing how his WAR stacked up against his peers each season. Since a Hall of Famer should be performing at an elite level, we look at the top 30 starting pitchers in each season, since they would seemingly represent the “elite” (each team’s ace, the top 20 percent, however you want to look at it). So let’s take Rankometer for a spin and see what our eyes tell us.

Let’s first look at a first ballot Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux. What do my eyes tell me? He was the best among the best for a long stretch. Consistent dominance for an extended period of time. The big block of color says “Hall of Famer” to me.

Now let’s look at a borderline candidate, Mike Mussina. Rankometer reveals a lesser pitcher than Maddux, but still an elite pitcher for an extended period of time, with some off-years here and there. Hard to say with Mussina, but after looking at his Rankometer I am more of a believer.

Now, let’s look at Andy Pettitte. What do your eyes tell you when you look at his Rankometer? To me, the visual doesn’t come close to Mussina’s (let alone Maddux’s). I know we’re not considering his postseason resume, which this doesn’t capture (maybe a future revision could). But still, my eyes don’t tell me “Hall of Famer” when I look at this visual. What do you see?

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About Kevin Dame
Kevin Dame is a writer and visual designer who brings sports information to life in new and meaningful ways. His work, which has been featured on espn.com, Fast Company, and the San Francisco Chronicle, can also be found on his blog, Visual Baseball. A lifelong Red Sox fan, Kevin currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. He welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions via email.

One Response to Is Andy Pettitte a Hall of Famer?

  1. Lawrence Swiader says:

    Kevin, my eyes see what yours see: that Andy Pettite falls into the category of a “clutch” but not Hall of Fame performer. No matter; I’ll tell stories about his great games to my grandchildren someday–his game five masterpiece in the 1996 World Series performance comes to mind. I still get chills thinking about how the World Series turned that night on the strength of Pettite’s pitching and how the Yankees stole a Series that should have belonged to the Braves.

    The Rankometer solidifies for me Moose’s qualifications for the Hall. His winning percentage is just too good to ignore. And I “just know” that on most days he was better than even the best. I think I’ve seen at least two of his near-miss perfect games and on those days his pitching was as beautiful as it gets.

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