I'd been wanting to write an Andy Pettitte career overview for a while but was hoping to be able to do it on the heels of the news that he decided to come back. However, as the Pettitte waiting game continues to drag on from the ridiculous to the absurd, I've grown impatient, and in the interest of providing you fine people with content day in and day out, there's no better time than the present for an Andy appreciation post.
Additionally, I've run graphs on just about every pitching scrub in existence this winter, and thought it'd be fun to finally take a look at an all-time great Yankee in graphical form.
Here's a look at Andy's career statistics. All of the following data is from Fangraphs.
Here's Andy's Batted Ball profile since 2002:
Here's what Andy's pitches have been worth since 2002:
Dontrelle Willis (44.1!), Astro teammate Roger Clemens (33.8) and Carlos Zambrano (30.5). Oh, and Roy Oswalt was fifth in baseball, at 27.8. I know the White Sox also had an incredible staff that year, but it's pretty nuts to look at those numbers knowing that Houston got swept in the 2005 World Series. Did you know that, since 2002, Derek Lowe has the highest single-season wFB mark, at 46.8 runs above average in 2002? Neither did I. That had to be one of the all-time great years for a sinking fastball.
And there's way too much data here for a graph, so here's Andy's Plate Discipline data in chart form:
Unsurprisingly, this led to a career-high contact %, which jives with a lot of the plate discipline data we've looked at over the course of the year, in that hitters -- for the most part -- generally swung more frequently than they have in years. Look no further than the fact the MLB OBP dipped by a not-insignificant .008 points in 2010 to .325 from .333 in 2009, the lowest its been since 1992, when it was .322. 2010 was also the first time the league average OBP even dipped below .330 in the last 18 seasons.
In any event, what we have here is the picture of a pitcher who is probably a borderline Hall-of-Famer -- since Pettitte's 1995 debut, only six pitchers in all of baseball have accumulated more fWAR: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina and Clemens. I typically stay away from Hall of Fame candidacy arguments, because I find the opinions of the majority of the electorate worthless and thereby don't find the HoF to be an accurate representation of the greatest players in MLB history (how can an establishment that doesn't include the game's all-time hits leader in Pete Rose and appears poised to exclude its all-time home runs leader in Barry Bonds possibly be considered the arbiter of the best players to ever play the game? But I digress), but you won't find any dissenters regarding the level of excellence that this septet of players performed at.
Andy Pettitte has gone about his business heroically yet mostly quietly, endeared himself to multiple generations of Yankee fans in the process, and secured his place as one of the three greatest lefthanders to ever pitch for New York, along with Whitey Ford and Ron Guidry. And he's done it all while still operating at an elite level. It's time to come back, Andy. There's still history to be made.