Monday night, Andy Pettitte recorded the 1957th strikeout of his Yankee career to pass Whitey Ford for the most in team history. In honor of that achievement, let's take a quick look at where he ranks in some other categories. As always, all statistics are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.
If you like WAR, Pettitte is third on the list with 49.4, behind Ford (53.9) and Mariano Rivera (55.4). Third place is probably where he'll finish, unless he's both healthy and effective for the second half of this season and all of next. He's still 3.5 wins behind Ford, and hasn't had a 3.5 win season since 2007, when he was worth 3.8 WAR.
Pettitte is third in wins with 213, and again, that's probably where he finishes his career. Red Ruffing is second with 231, and Ford tops the list with 236. He's also third with 2697 innings pitched. Once again, that's probably where he finishes, and once again, it'll be behind Ruffing (3168.2) and Ford (3170.1). If Pettitte starts every fifth game for the remainder of the season, he will make 16 more starts, tying him with Ford for the most in team history with 438. Unfortunately, it's fairly inevitable that he allows the most home runs in team history. He's currently second with 227 home runs allowed, one less than Ford and one more than Guidry. He'll likely finish with the fourth most walks allowed in team history, which is where he is now. He's 200 behind the tightly grouped trio of Lefty Gomez (1090), Ford (1086) and Ruffing (1066).
Pettitte is also fourth in Yankee history with 122 losses. He'll pass Ruffing with three more (highly probable if he stays healthy in the second half) and pass Bob Shawkey with eight more (possible if he retires for good after this season, highly probable if he comes back next year). It's unlikely he'll pitch long enough or poorly enough to lose the 18 games needed to break Mel Stottlemyre's team record of 139.
His 115 ERA+ as a Yankee ties him with Waite Hoyt and Allie Reynolds for 28th best in team history. That's just better than contemporaries Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina and David Wells (plus non-contemporary Herb Pennock), who all had a 114 ERA+ with the Yankees. That's also just behind Orlando Hernandez, Johnny "Grandma" Murphy and Tom Sturdivant, and their 116 ERA+.
In the postseason, he is baseball's all-time leader in wins, starts and IP, and is second in strikeouts. Of course, those leaderboards are mostly dominated by wild card-era players.
On the single season side, his 8.4 WAR in 1997 is the fifth best single-season total by a pitcher in team history. That year he made a league-leading 35 starts, pitched a career-best 240.1 innings, went 18-7 with a 2.88 ERA and 156 ERA+. Who had better seasons? Russ Ford in 1910 (11.0 WAR), Jack Chesbro in 1904 (10.2 WAR), Guidry in 1978 (9.6 WAR) and Gomez in 1937 (9.4 WAR). (It's almost difficult to comprehend just how long ago those top two seasons were. They occurred during the Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft administrations. Chesbro's season occurred in the season following the first World Series, and prior to Ford producing the first Model T. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field hadn't opened yet. World War I was still a few years away, but the Spanish-American War was still fresh in everyone's mind. Women couldn't vote. The HMS Titanic hadn't been launched yet. Ford and Chesbro were playing for the franchise that would become the Yankees, but was still known as the Highlanders and played in wooden Hilltop Park.)
Pettitte won 21 games in both 1996 and 2003, which tied him for the 25th best single-season total. Since World War II, it's the eighth best single-season total.
If he hadn't expatriated to Houston for three seasons, and put up similar numbers with the Yankees, he would already be the team's all-time leader in wins, WAR, innings pitched, starts, home runs allowed, hits allowed, and losses (of course, you can also play "what if" with Ford, who missed two seasons during the Korean War, and Ruffing, who missed two seasons during World War II).
So where does Pettitte rank among the Yankees best starting pitchers? Probably in the top eight, in some order with Ford, Ruffing, Gomez, Guidry, Mussina and Stottlemyre. I'll try to figure that out next week.
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