With Andy Pettitte's recent retirement from baseball, the question has been asked regarding where he stands all-time as a Yankee starting pitcher.
While Andy's career was borderline Hall of Fame worthy, his Yankee career was amongst the best ever for that franchise.
The Yankees have multiple HOFers at almost every other position, but starting pitching is where they are lacking in the all-time great department. Of course, you have Whitey Ford, who is the best Yankee pitcher ever and a top-10 pitcher all-time.
After that, it gets dicey because you have to go old school to find pitchers like Red Ruffing, Herb Pennock, Jack Chesbro and Lefty Gomez; all HOFers in their own right, but far down the list of all-time great pitchers in MLB history.
Then you get to the “newer” Yankees; lead by Ron Guidry and the pitchers who only spent a couple years with the Yankees—guys like David Cone, David Wells, Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens.
Let’s, for argument sake, toss out the guys like David Cone, Wells, etc because they weren’t with the Yankees long enough and the guys from the early days of baseball like Chesbro and Ruffing because of the eras they played in and the competition they faced.
So, that leaves us with Whitey Ford, Andy Pettitte and Ron Guidry as the top three starting pitchers for the Yankees.
Ford is clearly No. 1, no argument there and I think all baseball fans, not just Yankee fans can agree with that.
The tough part is finding out who was better: Guidry or Pettitte. A quick look at Baseball-Reference.com and we come up with the following (taking into account only time as a Yankee):
Guidry: 323 games started, 2392.0 innings pitched, 3.29 ERA, 119 ERA+, 1.184 WHIP, 2.81 K/BB ratio, 170 wins, .651 winning percentage
Pettitte: 396 games started, 2535.2 innings pitched, 3.98 ERA, 115 ERA+, 1.383 WHIP, 2.22 K/BB ratio, 203 wins, .644 winning percentage
What we see is Pettitte started 73 more games, but only pitched in roughly 143 more innings while allowing more runs and baserunners. Also, Guidry had more truly dominant seasons (78 and 79) for example than Pettitte did.
So you have to ask yourself this question: If Guidry was on the Yankees of the 90s/2000s instead of the Yankees of the 70s and the bad teams of the 80s, would the Pettitte Yankees been better with Guidry instead of Pettitte?
The answer is easily yes; less baserunners and less earned runs allowed means better a chance for the team to win.
One other factor to take into consideration is whether or not the pitcher was ever considered the "Ace" of the staff. This is another area where Pettitte is lacking.
Guidry was pretty much the "Ace" for every season he was in Yankees Pinstripes, while Andy was generally considered to be either the No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
The final factor to consider is postseason success. So, let's see how each pitcher did in regards to ALCS and World Series play (after all, Guidry didn't have the luxury of one extra round of playoffs like Pettitte did):
Guidry ALCS: 2-1, 4.03 ERA, 4 games started, 1 complete game, 22.1 innings pitched, 1.299 WHIP
Pettitte ALCS: 7-2, 3.63 ERA, 12 games started, 0 complete games, 79.1 innings pitched, 1.261 WHIP
Guidry World Series: 3-1, 1.69 ERA, 4 games started, 2 complete games, 32.0 innings pitched, 1.063 WHIP
Pettitte World Series (this includes his one World Series with the Astros, in which he went 0-0 with an ERA of 3.00): 5-4, 4.06 ERA, 13 games started, 0 complete games, 77.2 innings pitched, 1.403 WHIP
Looking closer at those stats, Pettitte was the better pitcher in the ALCS, but Guidry was the much better pitcher in the World Series. Pettitte's stats in the World Series are actually much worse than his regular season stats, whereas Guidry's stats in the World Series are much better than his regular season stats.
So, if you’re making a starting rotation of Yankees all-time pitchers; Ford is your No. 1 and ace, Guidry is your No. 2 and Pettitte would be your No. 3.
Granted, that’s a great number three pitcher to have, but if I had to start a game and pick between Guidry and Pettitte, Guidry gets the call.
Andy Pettitte has earned his place among all-time Yankee greats, will always be a member of the "Core Four" and will probably be the all-time greatest Yankee pitcher to fans who found the Yankees in the 1990s.
However, those of us "older Yankee fans" will think differently.
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