In sixteen big league seasons, Pettitte won 240 big league games not including the 19 he won in post-season play. The Texas born southpaw also pitched in eight World Series (seven with the Yankees and one with the Houston Astros).
So will Pettitte go to Cooperstown? The jury is very much out on him. Joe Capozzi, a sportswriter for The Palm Beach Post who is a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), said last December he “was leaning heavily against a Hall of Fame vote for Pettitte.” One of Capozzi’s arguments is that Mariano Rivera saved too many of Pettitte’s games.
This strikes me as a rather silly argument. Would Capozzi have denied Catfish Hunter entry into the Hall of Fame because Rollie Fingers saved too many of his games? Let’s not forget that Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage also saved some games for Hunter.
Speaking of Catfish, Pettitte’s numbers are reasonably comparable to Hunter who pitched in six World Series (three with the Oakland A’s and three with the Yankees). Their strikeout to walks totals are very similar. Pettitte struck out 2,251 batters while walking 962. Hunter struck out 2,012 while walking 954. Hunter’s ERA is more than a half point lower (3.26 to 3.88) but Pettitte has more wins (240 to 224). Granted, Hunter did win 20 or more games in five consecutive seasons and won the AL Cy Young Award in 1974. Pettitte only won 20 or more games twice in his career and never won a Cy Young although he did finish runner up to Pat Hentgen of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1996 AL Cy Young balloting.
Hunter was voted into Cooperstown in 1987 in his third year on the BBWAA ballot. Now I don’t think Pettitte is a first ballot Hall of Famer and Pettitte will certainly be penalized for appearing in the Mitchell Report although he did come clean. If Pettitte does get enshrined he’ll probably go in with either Rivera and/or Derek Jeter who are (pending an unforeseen scandal) a lock to get into Cooperstown in their first year of Hall of Fame eligibility.