In today’s article I will discuss two of the best performers that the game has seen over the last 20 years. One could potentially be hanging up his spikes while the other is hoping to have his name called out in a couple of days when the Hall of Fame voting results are announced.
The Yankees Are in Trouble
Reports continue to trickle out that Andy Pettitte is legitimately leaning toward retirement (an announcement could even come within the next few days). This isn’t a salary push or anything like that, it’s simply a decision that Pettitte needs to make for himself and his family as he has apparently grown a bit weary of the toll the game has taken on his body. Here are the facts.
(1) He doesn’t need the money having made more than $125 million in his career.
(2) His place in history is secure. Pettitte has been one of the finest postseason pitchers of modern times, just take a look at the numbers: 19-10, 3.83 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 173 Ks over 263 innings pitched. As for his regular season work, he’s also been one of the best left-handed pitchers of recent times. Not just that, he profiles quite well amongst all lefties who have ever pitched as his total of 240 victories is tied for 12th all time with Herb Pennock and Frank Tanana. Pettitte also has a winning percentage of .635 in his career which is the 9th best mark of any left-handed pitcher in the history of baseball (min. 1,500 innings pitched).
(3) He was darn good last season, even at 38 years of age, as he went 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Unfortunately he was limited to 129 innings, his lowest total of his 16 season career other than his injury plagued 2004 season. Given the struggles to stay healthy last season, it just sounds like Pettitte has had enough.
(4) If he doesn’t come back, as seems quite likely at this point, the Yankees are in big, big trouble. Here would be their projected rotation, sans Pettitte, if the season started today.
CC Sabathia: A worthy #1.
A.J. Burnett: Coming off his worst season (5.26 ERA, 1.51 WHIP).
Phil Hughes: Won 18 games but had a 4.90 ERA after the break and has only one season of starting in
Ivan Nova: He’s appeared in all of 10 big league games.
Sergio Mitre: Made only three starts last season and owns terrible career ratios (5.27 ERA, 1.50 WHIP).
If you are a Yankees’ fan it’s time to pray to whomever you pray to because you desperately need Andy Pettitte to put off retirement for another year.
The Historical Place of the DH
Almost a year ago to the day I wrote a piece about Edgar Martinez and his Hall of Fame candidacy entitled Is There Room for a DH? In that piece I laid out my thoughts about the case of a man who was a Hall of Fame worthy performer, save for two significant points. (1) Martinez wasn’t given a full-time role with the Mariners until he was 27 years old, so some of his counting numbers just aren’t that impressive when placed in a historical context (he had only 309 homers, one less than Jay Buhner and 1,261 RBI, 10 less than Tino Martinez). (2) No full-time designated hitter has ever been elected to the Hall of Fame (Martinez played the field in less than 30 percent of his career games). Both points, on their own, could be enough to keep Edgar from ever being enshrined in the halls of Cooperstown.
At the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account today there was some back and forth about the fact that Martinez deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. After all, DH is a position, to which I argued it’s a one way position. Martinez was a hitter, but would anyone call him a player? In my mind that means he will have a very difficult time convincing the voting body that he deserves baseball’s ultimate honor. Conversely, it can be argued that pitchers only do one thing – pitch – and no one has any complaints about hurlers making the Hall so perhaps people will be willing to overlook the fact that Martinez played most of his career without even owning a glove. In the end I wish that baseball would do the right thing and eliminate the whole debate by returning the game to its roots by riding itself of the abomination that is the designated hitter.
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By Ray Flowers