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Oct 182010

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.

4 Responses to “Examining Andy in the Playoffs”

  1. I haven’t analyzed the start by start lines (either for the regular season or playoffs), but my thought on this matter is that for the playoffs he has been hit or miss (see Games 1 and 5 of the 1996 WS as an example). So while his average may be exactly in line with the regular season, I am wondering if there is a descrepancy in variance. That discrepancy may be why he is veiwed as a great post-season peformed because people remeber the great starts and forget about the horrible ones (selection bias). Since he has had some really great playoff starts (and a few clunkers to average things out) that may be why he is veiwed as he is. Then again I may be completely wrong, although I look forward to solid data on this.  (Quote)

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  2. I agree with the point that a player usually performs to the same ability that he shows in the regular season but thought it would be interesting to point out that Andy has pitched quite a bit better than those overall numbers you posted since 1998 (http://goo.gl/r5TW). It’s actually even better if you just start up in 2000..still 168 IP since 2000 so it’s not a completely small sample size.  (Quote)

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  3. Just a quick comments but shouldn’t Andy’s numbers look even more impressive when you look at the opponents he’s faced in the playoffs. To get to the playoffs you have to have good pitching and hitting. So for Andy to get it done in October isn’t it even all that more impressive?  (Quote)

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  4. The only postseason game I truly can rip Andy apart on…game 6 of 01. I don’t understand how you don’t realize you are tipping your pitches off. If there was a goat in this series, it wasn’t Mo IMO but Andy.  (Quote)

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