Andy Pettitte's case for the Hall of Fame

Andy Pettitte will be back on the Hall of Fame ballot among the hopeful contenders for 2021, making his third straight appearance after garnering 11.3 percent of votes last year.

The 18-year veteran Pettitte never had a losing season in the Majors and won five championships during his time with the New York Yankees.

Joining him on this year's ballot are a number of former Yankees including Bobby Abreu, A.J. Burnett, Roger Clemens, LaTroy Hawkins, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield and Nick Swisher.

Pettitte owns a number of MLB postseason records including most all-time wins (19), innings (276.2) and starts (44), and also owns the Yankees franchise record for strikeouts (2,020).

An All-Star in three seasons with New York, Pettitte delivered one of his most memorable postseason performances in 2009, helping the Yankees to their 27th World Series championship and earning the win in each of the team's three all-important playoff series-clinching games.

For his career, Pettitte tossed a total of 3,316 innings (91st all-time), struck out 2,448 batters (45th all-time) and finished with a career ERA of 3.85.

As expert Hall of Fame analyst Jay Jaffe wrote for FanGraphs a year ago, "Pettitte was more plow horse than racehorse. A sinker- and cutter-driven groundballer whose pickoff move was legendary, he was a championship-level innings-eater, a grinder (his word) rather than a dominator, a pitcher whose strong work ethic, mental preparation, and focus -- visually exemplified by his peering in for the sign from the catcher with eyes barely visible underneath the brim of his cap -- compensated for his lack of dazzling stuff."

Some Hall of Fame breakdowns, like Chris Bodig's January examination for CooperstownCred.com, give Pettitte the nod for his long-standing success in October.

"If you have a regular season career that makes you a borderline or 'just below' the borderline Hall of Famer, you need to have multiple big postseason moments and be responsible for multiple championships. Pettitte had both," Bodig writes.

A major aspect helping Pettitte's case on the 2021 ballot is the lack of sure-fire contenders. There are no Mariano Riveras or Derek Jeters to claim guaranteed votes from writers this year, and by comparison, Pettitte may have a better shot to earn their consideration.

For No. 46, it may come down to voters looking at park-adjusted factors and comparisons to other inductees.

"Pettitte’s career ERA would be the second-highest in the Hall, in front of only [Jack] Morris, but the adjustments for park and league are everything in this case," wrote Jaffe. "Pettitte has a 117-105 edge on Morris in ERA+. His 117 ERA+ matches that of Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, who ranks 43rd among enshrined starters, and it’s two points better than Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro, Fergie Jenkins and Eppa Rixey, who are tied for 45th."

But for all of his on-field accomplishments and consistency on the mound for the better part of two decades, Pettitte's unavoidable admission of human growth hormone use in 2007 may still give voters pause when it comes to marking his box on the ballot.

"Pettitte has one thing on his resume that hurts him when voters turn to the chance to check the box," Jack Curry highlighted earlier this week on Yankees Hot Stove, "it's that he was mentioned in the Mitchell Report."

The debate over whether players linked to past performance-enhancing drug use deserve Hall of Fame consideration continues to be a major discussion point among baseball voters and analysts, and only time will tell if the tide ultimately shifts toward inducting those kinds of players.

For now, Pettitte's case is one that will give BBWAA voters plenty to pore over when they make their decisions for next year's induction class.

For more on the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot and the latest news and developments on the New York Yankees offseason, be sure to tune in for the next Yankees Hot Stove (Monday, 7 p.m.) on YES Network.