Andy Pettitte: Overrated Postseason Performer

Quick question:  Which of the following pitchers would you rather have?

Pitcher 1:  14-9, 4.11 ERA, 206 IP in 33 starts, 130 K
Pitcher 2:  14-5, 3.44 ERA, 209 IP in 33 starts, 199 K

Obviously, neither of these pitchers is a superstar, but given the lower ERA and higher strikeout rate of Pitcher 2, I’d go with him any day.

Now…

Pitcher 2 is Angels pitcher John Lackey’s 2005 season.
Pitcher 1 is Andy Pettitte’s career postseason statistics.

My point?  Anyone who says that Pettitte is this fantastic clutch postseason performer has no idea what they’re talking about.  The only reason he has so many wins is because he has had so many chances to pitch in the postseason, and if he didn’t have the Yankees offense behind him, he never would have won 14 games.  While Pettitte did have a great season this year, he’s always really been nothing more than a poor #2 starter or a good #3 starter his whole career.  So when I hear comparisons of Oswalt-Clemens-Pettitte to Smoltz-Glavine-Maddux it kind of makes me sick.  It’s Oswalt-Clemens…and then Pettitte.  How people can even confused the caliber of these 3 pitchers is beyond me; Pettitte’s not even close to being in their class.  I mean, come on, in 33 career postseason starts he doesn’t even have a single complete game?  Ugh.  Yet another beneficiary of unjustified New York hype.  At best, Pettitte is a guy that might keep your team in the game…but he’ll never win the game for you by himself, like Oswalt did last night.  And on the nights Pettitte doesn’t keep you in the game, he lets you down…bad.  Game 1 of the NLCS is one example, but does anyone remember Game 6 of the 2001 World Series?  Yankees up 3-2 with a chance to close it out and Pettitte just gets blown out of the freaking water by Arizona, while getting to watch a real ace, Randy Johnson, dominate the Yanks.  Final score of that game was 15 – 2, and Pettitte only made it through two measly innings.  What a dud.  And then everyone knows what happened in Game 7 of that series…

I’m not knocking John Lackey, he’s an above average pitcher.  But if he were on the Astros, no one would be talking about Clemens-Oswalt-Lackey with any sort of reverence, nor should they.  Trust me, there aren’t any hitters on the White Sox who are going to be thinking, “Aw crap, I gotta face Pettitte?”  Puhleeeez…

Prediction:  Astros in 7.

EDIT:  Okay, okay, I know that Pettitte doesn’t suck, but I guess I’m just trying to make the point that while he’s a decent pitcher, he’s not quite what people have made him out to be.  Basically, Andy Pettitte is Jarrod Washburn, just better looking and with a lot more press.  And if he can keep the Astros in games, then I’ll be very happy…for Astros fans.  But I’d prefer to have the Astros win and to have Pettitte’s mediocrity exposed.

14 comments

  1. those are awesome predictions although 37-4 seems like a bit of a stretch. Let’s place a wager on that one. Better yet, let’s meet up and watch the games together and have a nice conversation about baseball…the greatest sport ever. Although I’m not a huge fan of Pettitte, I do have some counter-arguments to ur anti-pettitte talk.

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  2. for the most part i agree with your analysis of pettitte…however i don’t think he sucks…he isn’t a number 1.  and we think he is..but andy pettitte has been awesome for the ‘stros this year especially in the 2nd half.  all i ask is that he keep houston in the game…which i have no doubt he will do. GO ‘STROS!!

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  3. You’re fired. You predicted a Cards-Angels Series. I agree with you on Pettite, except not that you’ve become the baseball version of Lee Corso, Pettite will throw his first postseason complete game and win. And even worse for you, the White Sox will probably now go on and win the Series.

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  4. The comparison with Lackey is unfair, look at the postseason stats of Smoltz-Glavine-Maddux (http://www.baseball-reference.com/):
    Smoltz: 14-4, 2.70 ERA, 201.1 IP in 26 starts, 189 K.
    Glavine: 12-15, 3.58 ERA, 201.1 IP in 32 starts, 137 K.
    Maddux: 11-14, 3.22 ERA, 190 IP in 29 starts, 122 K.
    Looking strictly at the numbers, it a wash between Lackey and Glavine/Maddux, maybe I’d lean towards Lackey because his strikeout ratio is higher.  But who would you want pitching for you in a series, ’05 Lackey, or 90s Maddux or Glavine?  You forgot to figure that during the regular season Lackey gets to feast on bottom dwellers like the Royals and Tigers while in the postseason everynody is facing much tougher lineups.  I’m not saying that Pettitte is this amazing clutch performer, it’s just that he’s hard to figure out, kinda like trying to figure out how much game an ok looking guy driving a Porsche has.  There would be so much debate as to how much a Porsche adds to picking up girls skills that coming so an objective conclusion is very difficult.  I would say that Pettitte is a shaky 2/solid 3 starter, but in a seven game series a solid 3 is invaluable. 

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  5. Good point on the difference in competition levels between regular season and postseason…i was waiting for someone to pick that out.  I think we agree that Pettitte is a shaky 2/solid 3, but I’ve heard people say during this postseason that Houston’s rotation is three number 1’s, when in reality it’s 1/1/3.  Even though Pettitte’s been worse than Glavine or Maddux in the postseason, I’ve never heard of anyone call either Glavine or Maddux an “exceptional postseason performer,” which is what I’m sick of hearing about Pettitte.  Because he’s not and he hasn’t been.
    The more I think about it, the more I agree it seems unfair, because looking at the numbers, Lackey’s ’05 season is actuallly quite good.  Your comparison to Glavine/Maddux might be better, because they’ve “underachieved” in the postseason, and yet still pitched better than Pettitte.

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