And then Andy has a couple of quirks that I find fun to watch:
- His intense glare - sometimes he looks like he perceives nothing but the catcher's glove, and is completely unaware of the screaming fans and the pressure of a situation.
- The way he'll walk off the field at the end of an inning yelling at himself after getting out of a jam, because he was imperfect enough to get into the jam in the first place.
With that question in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look at is the history of older pitchers in a similar situation to Pettitte. To do this, I queried for all pitchers who pitched at least 100 innings in a year, did not pitch the year after, and then pitched 2 years after, filtering for only pitchers who were 34 or over in the "comeback" year. The following table shows the results:
|Name||Year||Year Comeback||Age - Comeback||IP||IP Comeback||ERA||ERA Comeback|
Blyleven for example did improve in his comeback season at age 41; but sucking less in 1992 than he did in 1990 really shows he was toast by 1989 more than anything else. There are a few pitchers who were valuable in their comeback years, but they are clearly the exception.
However, I think the real takeaway here is that these are not applicable precedents to Pettitte's situation. The reason perhaps is obvious: most of these pitchers did not have a good season, retire for a year, and then come back out of retirement a la Andy Pettitte. Instead, most of these pitchers missed a year because of injury. In other words, this table reflects the aftereffects of serious injury on older pitchers; health is a variable that does not apply to Pettitte.
It makes sense that there are few precedents - most athletes have to have the uniforms ripped off of them, very few walk away after a productive season.
Since Pettitte's health is not a factor, the next post on the blog will look at this question from a different perspective, which is to just look at the records of starting pitchers age 39 and up, if nothing else that should show the upside.