Don’t get upset, but for many individuals, that will be difficult. Others will agree wholeheartedly with the following statement:
Andy Pettitte isn’t the second greatest New York Yankees’ pitcher in their history, nor is he even the best Yankees’ pitcher born in Louisiana.
Ron Guidry pitched for the Yankees from 1975-88. When he first joined the team, announcer Frank Messer remarked that management believed that Guidry’s only negative was that he might not be able to pitch enough complete games because he was relatively small.
Guidry appeared in only 10 games in 1975 and in seven the following season. In 1977, he became a member of the starting rotation.
The following presents some of Guidry’s and Pettitte’s vital statistics over a 162-game season.
Pitcher IP ERA ERA+ WHIP K
Guidry 235 3.29 119 1.18 175
Pettitte 215 3.88 117 1.36 158
Guidry edges Pettitte in innings pitched, ERA+ and strikeouts, but a significant difference exists between walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP).
Each has averaged 17 wins over a 162-game season.
Guidry allowed 62 walks and 216 hits a season, compared to Pettitte’s 68 walks and 224 hits a season. The fact that Pettitte induced batters to hit the ball on the ground produced many double plays that got him out of jams.
In 1978, Guidry had a season that rivaled the greatest in baseball history. He led the league in wins (25), winning percentage (.893), ERA (1.74), ERA+ (208), shut outs (nine), WHIP (0.946) and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.1).
Guidry won at least 20 games three times, again leading in wins in 1985. In 1983, the diminutive left-hander completed a now-amazing 21 games to lead the league.
Pettitte has been a 20-game winner twice, in 1996 when he led the league with 21 wins and again in 2003. He led the league in starts three times. That’s it.
Guidry pitched in the 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1981 playoffs when only the ALCS existed, although because of the 1981 strike, there were two playoff rounds that year.
Guidry started six playoff games during his career. He was 2-1 with an ERA just under 4.50, but in three World Series, Guidry went 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.063 WHIP.
Pettitte has started 13 World Series games. He is 5-4 with a 4.06 ERA and a 1.403 WHIP.
During most of Guidry’s career, the Yankees were not close to most of the teams for which Pettitte pitched.
From 1977-88, the Yankees played .567 baseball. Guidry’s won-lost percentage was .651.
During the Pettitte years, the Yankees played.598 baseball. Pettitte’s percentage was .635.
Even modern statistics give Guidry a slight edge. From 1977-88, Guidry’s highest WAR (WIns Above Replacement) was 8.5 in 1978 and his low was 0.4 in 1988, when he didn’t pitch many innings. He has a career 44.4 WAR.
Pettitte’s highest WAR was 7.6 in 1998 and his low was 1.7 in 2008 (only Yankees years are included). His Yankees’ WAR was 42.4.
The statistics are close, but they clearly favor Guidry.