One of the most consistent players on five World Series championship teams, left-hander Andy Pettitte enters his fifth year in the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot with an interesting case as a New York Yankees legend – and admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Pettitte holds the all-time record with 19 playoff victories and 44 starts, helping the Yankees win it all in 1996, ’98, ’99, 2000 and ’09 – his final ring came after a stint with the Houston Astros.
Certainly not a candidate for dunks with a career ERA of 3.89, Pettitte didn’t even get time due to his use of human growth hormone, revealed in the 2007 Mitchell Report with Roger Clemens.
Still, you can’t tell the story of these Yankee teams without a chapter on Pettitte, whose arrival in 1995 coincided with a 14-year post-season drought. Pettitte won 256 games in his 18-year career, averaging 30 starts and a record of 15-9 from 1996-2010.
Pettitte was adored in the Bronx even after Mitchell’s report as part of the “Core Four” with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada winning their fifth ring together in 2009. The club retired his number in 2015, a big deal for an admitted PED user.
With all this in mind, USA TODAY Sports takes a look at the complicated case of the Pettitte Hall of Fame:
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Why Pettitte belongs to Sala
The most prolific pitcher in postseason history, Pettitte’s playoff stats clearly increased with the introduction of the wild card team and the Division Series in his rookie year, but it wasn’t just quantity.
With the 1996 World Series tied at two games each, Pettitte was knocked out in the ninth inning of Game 5 against the Atlanta Braves in a 1–0 Yankees win, securing the franchise’s first title since 1978. three World Series winners, 1998, 2000, 2009), conceding just three runs in 20 innings.
Where he does not gather
Pettitte won 21 games twice in his career, but had an ERA above 4.00 in nine of his 18 seasons. That’s not the most important thing, especially for a pitcher in the steroid era – but it brings us to his protracted PED saga.
A few days after Mitchell’s report was published, Pettitte began using HGH, but claimed that only “two days” had passed in 2002 and it was an effort to heal from an injury.
“This is it – two days in my life; two days in my entire career where I was injured and disabled,” Pettitte said in a December 2007 statement. “I wasn’t looking for an advantage. I was looking for healing.”
Less than two months later, Pettitte admitted it was a lie. In his testimony before congressional investigators and the affidavit that bailed him out of the trial, Pettitte suddenly remembered another time he used HGH.
“In 2004, when I tore my flexor tendon, I re-used HGH twice in one day out of frustration and a futile attempt to recover,” Pettitte said in his statement, claiming he got the 2004 medication from his father.
Ironically, a few years later, Pettitte advised Alex Rodriguez to just “throw everything away” because “otherwise it seems like something is always chasing you.”
Pettitte hasn’t made much progress in four years, but may have fallen victim to the 10-player voting limit with Bonds, Clemens et al. blocking the ballot.
With 144 public votes in Ryan Thibodeaux’s Hall of Fame, Pettitte won 12 new votes. Although he still has less than 20% (18.5), this level of support would be a new high mark and could build momentum in the second half of his stay on the ballot.
Despite this, Pettitte is a recognized PED user and if Manny Ramirez can’t even go above 30%, it’s hard to imagine a pitcher going over that level
- 2019 – 9.9%
- 2020 -11.3%
- 2021 – 13.7%
- 2022 – 10.7%
Will Pettitte finally get in?
With the exception of an act of god, he will not get through the BBWAA vote. Pettitte has been treated much more favorably than most other PED guys, but it’s too steep a hill for him to climb over the next six years.
But in the longer term, an introduction by a veterans committee full of friendly faces is not beyond the realm of possibility.