Wait, not those playoffs. These playoffs:
A lot of people say that Andy Pettitte is a great post-season pitcher and that the numbers he’s compiled in the playoffs should help put him in Cooperstown. I do not think Pettitte should be a Hall of Famer (maybe I’ll do a post on that in the coming days/weeks), but he has been pretty damn solid in the playoffs. The thing that gets me, though, is that people act as if Pettitte has pitched above and beyond his career levels when the calender’s page flips to playoff time. Here’s the thing: he hasn’t. Let’s look at Andy’s numbers, using career 162 game averages from Baseball Reference.
REGULAR SEASON: 215 IP, 224 H, 93 ER, 18 HR, 68 BB, 158 SO, 3.88 ERA (117 ERA+), 1.357 WHIP, 9.4 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 2.8 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 2.34 K/BB.
POST SEASON: 256 IP, 266 H, 110 ER, 30 HR, 72 BB, 168 SO, 3.97 ERA, 1.320 WHIP, 9.4 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 2.5 BB/9, 5.9 K/9, 2.33 K/BB.
So Pettitte’s pitched a handful more innings in the playoffs than he has in an average regular season, but the rate stats are almost exactly the same. In fact, the H/9 is exactly the same and the K/BB is off by a minuscule amount. The WHIP is almost the same. Everything is almost the same.
I’m going to say it now, just to get it out there: Andy Pettitte has not been any better in the playoffs than he has in the regular season. This isn’t the end of the story, of course, but there is something to say about it.
The first thing we have to get out there is that Pettitte is lucky to have pitched 256 post season innings. 2004, 2006, and 2008 are the only years in which Andy has not pitched in the playoffs in his career. That’s incredible. He’s pitched so many innings, in fact, that he’s pitched basically a whole season in the playoffs–a little more, as Andy’s career high his 240.1 IP in 1997.
And, wouldn’t you know: his playoff totals essentially match his average regular season totals. This just goes to show you (as do Derek Jeter’s numbers…hint hint, Steve touched on this, too) that if a player gets enough time in a certain situation, he will perform the same as he usually does.
The ultimate point of this article isn’t to crap all over Andy’s post-season numbers. When a pitcher is as solid and as consistent as he is, all we could ask for is that he repeat his regular season numbers when the playoffs happen and that’s exactly what Pettitte has done over the course of his career. It’s absolutely great that he has kept up that high a level of play when the chips are down. We shouldn’t make Andy’s playoff numbers out to be more than they are but we should also appreciate that he has been his good old self in the playoffs. Hopefully, that trend continues tonight.