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Andy Pettitte

Andrew Eugene Pettitte (; born June 15, 1972) is an American baseball starting pitcher who has played 16 years in Major League Baseball (MLB), primarily for the New York Yankees. He won five World Series championships with the Yankees and is a three-time All-Star. He ranks as MLB's all-time postseason wins leader with 19.[1]

Pettitte was drafted by the Yankees organization in 1990, and he signed with them a year later. After debuting in the major leagues in 1995, Pettitte finished third in voting for the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year Award. In 1996, he led the AL with 21 wins and was runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award, and two years later, he was named the Yankees' Opening Day starter. Pettitte established himself as one of the "Core Four" players who contributed to the Yankees' late-1990s dynasty that produced four championships. After spending nine seasons with the Yankees a stint in which he won at least 12 games each season Pettitte signed with the Houston Astros in 2004. He rejoined the Yankees in 2007 and later that season admitted to using human growth hormone earlier in his career. After four more seasons and an additional World Series title, Pettitte retired after the 2010 season. In March 2012, the Yankees announced he would be returning to the team under a minor-league contract.

Pettitte's pitching repertoire included a four-seam and cut fastball and several off-speed pitches such as a slider, curveball, and changeup. As a left-handed pitcher, he had an exceptional pickoff move to first base, allowing him to record 99 career pickoffs, the most all-time. Among Yankees pitchers, Pettitte ranks second in strikeouts (1,823) and games started (396), and third in wins (203). Through 2009, he was ninth among active major league players in win-loss percentage (.629), fourth in wins (229), and seventh in strikeouts (2,150). He won the most games of any pitcher in the 2000s.

Contents


Early life

Pettitte was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is of Italian and Cajun descent, the younger of two children born to Tommy and JoAnn Pettitte. He attended Deer Park High School in Deer Park, Texas. Pettitte pitched Deer Park to within one win of the state title.[2] He also played center and nose guard for the school's football team.[3]

The Yankees selected Pettitte in the 22nd round of the 1990 MLB draft. Recruited by San Jacinto College North in Houston, Texas, he opted to play college baseball when coach Wayne Graham compared him to Roger Clemens.[3] At San Jacinto, Pettitte won eight of ten decisions.[2]

As Pettitte enrolled in a junior college rather than a four-year school, the Yankees retained the right to sign him as a draft-and-follow prospect.[3] On May 25, 1991, he signed with the Yankees, receiving an $80,000 signing bonus ($}} in current dollar terms).[3]

Professional baseball career

Minor leagues

In 1991, Pettitte pitched for the Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Oneonta Yankees of the Class-A Short Season New York-Penn League. With Oneonta, Jorge Posada caught Pettitte.[4] Pettitte threw a knuckleball at the time, which Posada struggled to catch, prompting Pettitte to shelve the pitch.[4]

In 1992, Pettitte pitched for the Greensboro Hornets of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He began the 1993 season with the Prince William Cannons of the Class-A Advanced Carolina League, receiving a promotion to the Albany-Colonie Yankees of the Class-AA Eastern League. Pettitte began the 1994 season with Albany-Colonie before receiving a promotion to the Columbus Clippers of the Class-AAA International League.

Major leagues

First tenure with the New York Yankees (1995 2003)

Pettitte pitching during Spring Training 2007
Pettitte pitching during Spring Training 2007
Baseball America ranked Pettitte the 49th best prospect in baseball prior to the 1995 season. In spring training, Pettitte competed for a spot in the starting rotation with Sterling Hitchcock. Hitchcock won the competition, and Pettitte opened the season in the bullpen,[3] making his major league debut with the Yankees on April 29, 1995. The Yankees demoted him back to the minors on May 16 to allow him to continue starting.[3] Eleven days later, he was recalled due to an injury to Jimmy Key.[3]

Believing Pettitte to be the superior pitcher, the Yankees traded Hitchcock prior to the 1996 season.[3] In 1996, Pettitte made the American League All-Star team and finished second to Pat Hentgen for the AL Cy Young Award. He led the league in wins (21, and first twenty-win season by a Yankee since Ron Guidry in 1985), was 3rd in W-L pct. (.724), and was 8th in the AL in ERA (3.87). The Yankees won the 1996 World Series with Pettitte going 1 1 in the 6 game series; in Game 1, he was hit hard early and did not last through the third inning, but he fared much better in Game 5, outdueling John Smoltz in a game that the Yankees won 1 0. The next year, Pettitte led the league in starts (35), pickoffs (14), and double plays induced (36), and was third in the league in innings pitched (IP) (240.3; a career high), fourth in ERA (2.88), wins (18), and winning percentage (.720), sixth in complete games (4), eighth in strikeouts (166), and tenth in walks/9 IP (2.43). In 1998, he was seventh in the league in complete games (5; a career high), and eighth in wins (16). That season, he won his second World Series Title with the Yankees, winning his only start in the four game series.

The Yankees continued their success in 2000. New York won the AL East Pennant by 4 games while Pettitte was 3rd in the American League in wins (19), sixth in winning percentage (.679), and seventh in complete games (3). He finished off the season with his fourth World Series Title. In 2001, he made the All-Star team for the second time and was named the MVP of the ALCS, after winning Games 1 and 5 against the Seattle Mariners. He was 3rd in the AL in walks/9 IP (1.84), and eighth in strikeouts (164) and strikeouts/9 IP (7.36).

The following year, he was ninth in the AL in winning percentage (.722) and complete games (3). Pettite continued his success through 2003. Pettitte was 2nd in the league in wins (21), fifth in winning percentage (.724), sixth in strikeouts (180; a career high) and strikeouts/9 IP (7.78; a career-best), eighth in games started (33), and ninth in walks/9 IP (2.16).

Houston Astros (2004 2006)

Pettite with Nolan Ryan
Pettite with Nolan Ryan

After the 2003 season, Pettitte left the Yankees, signing a 3-year, $31.5 million contract with the Houston Astros.[5] He switched his uniform number to #21, in honor of Roger Clemens, who previously wore that number in Boston and Toronto. His 2004 season, in which he held batters to a .226 batting average, was shortened by elbow surgery.

Pettitte returned to form in 2005 to help the Astros make their first trip to the World Series. His 2.39 ERA in 2005 was a career-best, and 2nd-best in the National League behind teammate Roger Clemens. He was also 2nd in the league walks/9 IP (1.66) and LOB percentage (79.7%; a career best),[6] 3rd in sacrifice hits (15), 5th in wins (17), and 8th in W-L pct. (.654). He held lefties, who over his career have outhit righties when batting against him, to a .200 batting average, had a career-best 4.17 SO/BB ratio.[7]

In 2006, Pettitte went 14 13 with a 4.20 ERA as the Astros missed the playoffs. He led the NL in starts (35), tied for 7th in pickoffs (4), and was 8th in double plays induced (26), and 10th in strikeouts (178) and batters faced (929). He held batters to a .229 batting average when there were 2 out with runners in scoring position.

Back to New York (2007 2010)

Pettitte pitching at Shea Stadium in 2007 After the 2006 season, Pettitte left the Astros, and signed a 1-year, $16 million contract with the New York Yankees with a player option for 2008 worth $16 million. On January 11, 2007, Pettitte was re-introduced as a Yankee at a Yankee Stadium press conference.

Pettitte won his 200th career game on September 19, 2007. In 2007 he led the American League in starts (34), was 7th in batters faced (916), and was 9th in innings pitched (), finishing the regular season with a 15 9 win-loss record. He also had the 5th-lowest HR/9 innings pitched ratio in the AL (0.67).

On November 5, he declined his 2008 option, becoming a free agent.[8] Then on December 1, 2007, Pettitte was offered arbitration by the Yankees. However, on December 3, 2007 Pettitte announced that he would pitch for the Yankees in 2008.[9] On December 7, 2007, Pettitte accepted the Yankees offer of arbitration. He officially signed a one year, $16 million contract with the Yankees on December 12.[10]

On September 21, 2008, Pettitte was the last starting pitcher for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. He recorded his 2,000th career strikeout in the second inning, striking out Baltimore Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez. Pettitte led the Yankees in innings pitched in 2008 with 204. Over 14 seasons, Pettitte has averaged 158 strikeouts a season, the same number as he accumulated in 2008.[11]

Pettitte pitching in 2010 Pettitte agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract with incentives on January 26, 2009. Based on incentives such as innings pitched and days on the active roster, Pettitte eventually earned $10.5 million for 2009. Pettitte began the 2009 season as the Yankees' fourth starter, behind CC Sabathia, A. J. Burnett, and Chien-Ming Wang, followed by Joba Chamberlain.[12]

Pettitte was the winning pitcher as the Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Game 6 of the ALCS on October 25, 2009, to clinch the series and advance to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. This brought his career total of series-clinching wins to five, breaking the record he previously shared with Roger Clemens, Catfish Hunter and Dave Stewart.

Pettitte drove in his first postseason run during Game 3 of the World Series when he got a single to center field that scored Nick Swisher. He was the winning pitcher for that game. Pettitte pitched Game 6 of the 2009 World Series on three days of rest. Experts were critical of the decision to pitch the 37-year-old on short rest,[13][14][15] but Pettitte again was the winning pitcher in game 6 of the 2009 World Series, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 7 3. He extended his record career total series-clinching wins to six, and extended his record for post-season career wins to 18. He became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to start and win three series-clinching playoff games in the same year. Derek Lowe also won three series in 2004, but with one of his wins coming in relief. Additionally, on September 27 against the Red Sox, Pettitte had been the winning pitcher in the division-clinching game.

Pettitte filed for free agency on November 19, 2009.[16] He re-signed with the Yankees on December 9 for $11.75M for one year.[17]

In the first half of the 2010 season, Pettitte went 11 2 with a 2.70 ERA, earning an appearance in the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[18][19] He also won the Yankees.com mid-season Cy Young Award.[20] Pettitte finished the season with an 11 3 record and a 3.28 ERA, his lowest since 2005.[21] After months of speculation about his future, Pettitte announced his retirement on February 4, 2011.[22]

Comeback to the Yankees (2012)

Pettitte signed a minor league contract with the Yankees worth $2.5 million on March 16, 2012.[23] Pettitte began the season in the minor leagues and is expected to return to the MLB rotation sometime during the season.[24]

Career perspective

Pettitte pitching in 2008 Pettitte won 20-games in a season twice, posting 21 8 records in 1996 and 2003.

Pettitte was part of seven American League pennant-winning teams, one National League pennant-winning team and five World Series championship teams. He holds the record for most wins in postseason history with 19. He is the only MLB pitcher since 1930 to win at least 12 games in each of his first nine seasons.

For his career, Pettitte has a 240 138 win-loss record with a 3.88 ERA and 2,251 strikeouts in innings. He also never had a losing season in the major leagues. Among Yankees pitchers, Pettitte ranks second in strikeouts (1,823) and games started (396), and third in wins (203).[25] Pettitte and teammate Mariano Rivera have combined for a record 68 win-save combinations, the most in history.[26] They, along with teammates Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, have been noted as the "Core Four", as they were teammates for the five World Series won by the Yankees between 1996-2009. During the period from 1995 2010, no major league pitcher accumulated more regular season victories than Pettitte did. His 148 wins from 2000 to 2009 were the most of the decade.[27]

Pettitte was 19 10 with a 3.83 ERA and 173 strikeouts in the postseason (1995 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 2010), with the most postseason wins in MLB history. He also holds the all-time postseason record for most starts (42) and innings pitched in the postseason (263). He was the second starting pitcher in history to win three series-clinching games (ALDS, ALCS and World Series) in the same postseason (2009). Derek Lowe did the same in 2004, but with one of the wins in relief, and additionally, Pettitte won the regular game in which the Yankees clinched the division. When Pettitte started Game 3 of the 2009 World Series, he passed Christy Mathewson and Waite Hoyt, with the second most World Series starts. Whitey Ford is in front with 22 starts. Pettitte has played in 8 different World Series (7 with the Yankees, and one with the Astros), and been on the winning end of 19 postseason series  both of which are tops among active players.

Awards

Pettitte with the Yankees

Award / Honor Time(s) Date(s)
American League All-Star 3 1996, 2001, 2010
Greater Houston Area Major League Player of the Year
from the Houston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America
2 1996, 2003
ALCS Most Valuable Player 1 2001
Warren Spahn Award 1 2003
Good Guy Award, from the New York Sports Photographers 1 1996
Yankees Mid Season Cy Young Award[20] 1 2010

Pitching style

Pettitte throws a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a curveball, a sinker, a changeup, a slider, and a 12-6 curveball. His out pitch is a cutter at 85 88 mph with good inside break on right-handed batters, resulting in a lot of ground ball outs and double plays. Before his original 2011 retirement, his fastball was measured in the lower 90s and his curveball was about 74 76 mph. As a left-handed pitcher, Pettitte had an exceptional pickoff move to first base, allowing him to record 99 career pickoffs, the most all-time.[28]

Use of performance-enhancing drugs

On September 30, 2006 the Los Angeles Times reported that former relief pitcher Jason Grimsley, during a June 6, 2006 federal raid by federal agents investigating steroids in baseball, named Pettitte as a user of performance enhancing drugs.[29] The Times reported that Pettitte was one of five names blacked out in an affidavit filed in federal court.[29] Grimsley had told investigators that he got amphetamines, anabolic steroids, and human growth hormone (HGH) from someone (later named as Kirk Radomski) recommended to him by former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee, who is a personal strength coach for Clemens and Pettitte.[29] However, on October 3, 2006, the Washington Post reported that San Francisco United States attorney Kevin Ryan said that the Los Angeles Times report contained "significant inaccuracies."[30] Contrary to the initial LA Times report, neither the name of Clemens nor Pettitte appeared in the affidavit submitted by Grimsley.[31]

On December 13, 2007, Pettitte was one of several Yankees named in the Mitchell Report. Mitchell and his staff received the information on Pettitte from McNamee, who told them he injected Pettitte with HGH on 2 4 occasions in 2002 so that he would heal from an elbow injury quicker.[32]

On December 15, 2007, Pettitte verified McNamee's claim, admitting to using the HGH on two occasions in 2002, as it was meant to help heal an injury, and not to enhance his performance. Pettitte said he felt an obligation to return to the team as quickly as possible. He denied any further usage of HGH during his career; he also denied use of steroids or any other performance-enhancing drug.[33]

On February 13, 2008, in an affidavit made public as part of a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform, Pettitte admitted to additional injections of HGH twice in one day in 2004, using HGH obtained via prescription for his seriously ill father. Also in this affidavit Pettitte unequivocally recalled being told by former Yankees teammate Roger Clemens in 1999 or 2000 that Clemens had recently received injections of HGH. Clemens claimed during the noted hearing that Pettitte "misremembered" Clemens's 1999/2000 HGH remark, alleging that what Pettitte really heard was Clemens's reporting of his wife's use of HGH at that time, though earlier during this same hearing Clemens denied knowing of any use of HGH by his wife. McNamee corroborated Pettitte's recollection of events.

On February 18, 2008, Pettitte reported to Yankees spring training and apologized to both Yankees and Astros fans for his past drug use. In the press conference, he said the performance-enhancing-drug scandal has put a "strain" on his relationship with close friend and former teammate Roger Clemens.[34]

Personal life

Pettitte met his wife, Laura, in high school. Together, they have four children: Joshua Blake (born November 3, 1994), Jared (May 28, 1998), Lexy Grace (January 10, 2001), and Luke Jackson (June 20, 2005)

See also

  • List of Major League Baseball wins champions
  • Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
  • List of Major League Baseball players named in the Mitchell Report

References

External links

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