Breaking News: Andy Pettitte Is Better Than Bert Blyleven
A member of the Baseball Writers Association of America who has written extensively on why he has never voted for Bert Blyleven for the Hall of Fame now believes Andy Pettitte is going to Cooperstown.
That's right, long-time Blyleven dissenter Jon Heyman appears to have endorsed Pettitte's candidacy for the HoF in a Twitter post over the weekend.
i think pettitte's going to cooperstown for his great 1) consistency, 2) durability, 3) octobers, 4) explanation.
Speaking of "consistency," while Heyman is entitled to his opinion on both Blyleven and Pettitte, it would be nice if he could be consistent in his evaluation of these two pitchers. You see, three months ago, Heyman wrote the following (emphasis mine):
I look at numbers, too, and while my numbers may be slightly more simplistic than WHIP, WAR or VORP, I think they tell a story of a pitcher who was extremely good, consistent and durable but not quite Cooperstown-worthy. Blyleven was dominant in a lot of at-bats (thus, the 3,701 strikeouts) and even a lot of games (60 shutouts). But he was never dominant for a decade, a half decade or even a full season.
"...extremely good, consistent and durable but not quite Cooperstown-worthy."
Heyman admits in his own words that Blyleven has two of the four things he loves about Pettitte.
OK, so we know that Blyleven has the "consistency" and "durability" down. What's missing? Ahh... "octobers" and "explanation" (whatever the heck that is).
Let's take a look at those Octobers. Blyleven pitched in an era before the Division Series so let's focus on League Championship Series and World Series. He was 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 4.50 K/BB ratio covering five different series, eight games, and 47.1 innings pitched. Pettitte is 12-6 with a 3.99 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 2.15 K/BB ratio covering 16 different series, 26 games, and 162.1 innings. I know that WHIP thing may be a bit difficult to calculate (hits plus walks divided by innings), but it looks to me like Blyleven gets the vote for quality and Pettitte for quantity.
Alrighty, then the big difference between these two pitchers must come down to Heyman's fourth building block: explanation. Explanation? What the heck is explanation? Seriously. Jon, please explain. You can devote an entire guest column right here at Baseball Analysts to explain what "explanation" means and/or why Pettitte deserves to be enshrined and Blyleven does not. Have at it.
In the meantime, here is a quick and dirty summary of Pettitte's and Blyleven's regular season career:
Pettitte 116 2946
Blyleven 118 4970
Blyleven edges Pettitte in ERA+ while pitching two thousand more innings! That's right, Pettitte would have to pitch about ten more years at a slightly better clip to equal Blyleven's career. Did I mention that Pettitte will be 38 years old in June?
But, hey(man), "it's called the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Numbers." Silly me, I was led to believe that great numbers led to fame but, then again, Eddie Gaedel didn't have have great numbers (although a 1.000 OBP isn't bad) but is certainly famous. Maybe Heyman can take up the "Eddie Gaedel for Hall of Fame" cause. If that's stretching things too far (or if you want to argue that Gaedel is infamous rather than famous), how about Johnny Vander Meer? Don Larsen? Roger Maris? Maury Wills? Fernando Valenzuela? Joe Carter? I'm sure there are many, many other famous players who should be considered for the Hall in Heyman's mind.
Speaking of which, did Heyman vote for Mark McGwire? I mean, he's pretty famous, no? Well, Heyman put McGwire on his "Disqualified List."
Disqualified List (own personal list*)
25. Mark McGwire. Admitted andro use made him into a home run hero before moving into pariah territory. Projected percentage: 28 percent.
That's right, McGwire is disqualified for taking steroids (and admitting to taking them) while taking steroids and admitting to such just may be Pettitte's key to Cooperstown.
Yes, consistency. Heyman's arguments aren't very consistent but, boy, they are sure durable. It must be nice.