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Fantasy baseball – Hot stove analysis of offseason trades and free-agent signings



Tracking the offseason MLB trades and signings with fantasy baseball implications for 2022, Eric Karabell and Tristan H. Cockcroft will analyze and provide an outlook for all of the key players involved. Check back often as players like Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman and Trevor Story begin to find their potential new homes for 2022.

Players will be separated by position, and then listed in order of fantasy relevance within each positional grouping. Also included are links to any stand-alone analysis stories regarding free-agent signings and trades. Players who end up re-signing with their previous team will not be included.

Jump to: Catcher | First Base | Second Base | Shortstop | Third Base | Outfield | Starting Pitcher | Relief Pitcher

Second base

Texas Rangers sign 2B Marcus Semien: The first of the big-name free agent shortstops — or, in this case, second basemen, as that was his primary position in 2021 — is off the board.Cockcroft

Seattle Mariners trade for 2B Adam Frazier: Two middle infielders finished among the top 10 in hits last season. Can you guess who they were? One is Trea Turner, the dynamic base stealer that may go No. 1 overall in 2022 fantasy drafts. Turner is a fantasy superstar! The other was also acquired in a trade last season by a contending team who had hopes for a long playoff run. It did not work out so well.

Still, give Adam Frazier ample credit for having his best season. The Padres traded for the longtime Pirates second baseman and deployed him in a utility role. Now, eight weeks after missing the postseason, they have dealt him to the Mariners for a few prospects. Frazier hit .305 in 2021, although that was just about all he did for fantasy managers — that and scoring runs.

The contact-oriented Frazier has never hit more than 10 home runs in any season, nor has he stolen more than 10 bases, so he offers more value to those in points formats as opposed to those in roto. Still, batting average matters in almost every league and Frazier is rather safe there, though a big key to his value will be his lineup spot. Let us assume/hope it is at the top, likely in concert with new double-play partner J.P. Crawford, also a singles-minded hitter. Still, it is tough to value either of these Mariners as fantasy building blocks. Get them late in drafts. — Karabell

Third base

New York Mets sign 3B Eduardo Escobar: Escobar gives the Mets another option for both second and third base, plus shortstop in a pinch (albeit with mediocre defense there). On a team that had been so left-handed in recent years, his history of “lefty mashing” might well come in handy. In his career, he has a wOBA 19 points higher against southpaws than righties, and from 2019-21, that gap was 28 points. Expect the Mets to utilize him much in the way that his previous team, the Brewers, did, shuffling him around and exploiting daily pitching matchups — which is ideally what his fantasy managers should also do. — Cockcroft


New York Mets sign OF Starling Marte: The Mets finally got their center fielder! After four seasons of fielding defensive-only players or hitters effectively playing there out of position, Marte will give the Mets competent defense, good hitting and elite base stealing ability in center field. Having a complete player in place will probably pay the most fantasy dividends for Marte’s new teammates than Marte himself, as his bat boosts the lineup without squeezing any key pieces out, while his glove will give the pitching staff better odds of successful outcomes on balls in play. I’m a little more bullish on Mets pitchers with his arrival — though ultimately might only award them an extra buck in salary-cap drafts or a handful of ranking spots — and I’m certainly more intrigued by their lineup as well.

Marte’s speed is key in fantasy. He paced the majors in stolen bases (47) by a seven-steal margin, becoming the first player in history to steal 20-plus bags in both leagues in a single season. He actually came within 10 steals of the National League’s lead and 15 of the American League’s lead in the category. Much of that was an increasing number of green lights on the base paths but Marte’s improving accuracy on his attempts is also encouraging in light of his slight decline in speed over the past four seasons — his 28.4 mph Statcast average sprint speed in 2021 represented a career low. He’s as good a bet to pace the majors in stolen bases as anyone, and while 33-year-olds tend to see that number decline more than increase, the identity of the Mets’ manager might ultimately decide whether he’s more a 30-SB candidate than a 40-SB one. The difference matters, but in this steals-starved era in fantasy, it’s worth paying the premium for the chance at the latter.

Expect Marte to slot in either at leadoff, second or fourth in the lineup, depending, again, upon the identity of the manager. With the Mets’ other offseason moves, their 2022 projected roster brings many more platoon-advantage possibilities, taking this team into the Dodgers/Rays direction of building exclusively around matchups. That’s a great thing for Marte, who in the past three seasons played for teams that were collectively 45 games under .500, and who profiles as an absolutely everyday player regardless of the Mets’ final lineup strategy. He might well be lined up for his first career 100-run season, making his top-25-player-in-fantasy case an easy one.

There’s only one league format where such a case might be flimsy, that being ESPN’s standard points leagues, where he finished 91st overall (compared to third in rotisserie) and 54th among hitters, in large part due to his modest extra-base hit production and history of so-so walk rates. Consider him more top-50 worthy there. — Cockcroft

Miami Marlins sign OF Avisail Garcia: He’s a personal favorite, in large part because of his “Statcast darling” traits, best evidenced by his never-beneath-the-78th percentile (or 88th, if we exclude the 60-game 2020) sprint speed and his solid-yet-overlooked Barrel rates and maximum exit-velocity numbers. Garcia showed us in two of the last three seasons (2019 and 2021) why scouring the bargain bin using Statcast metrics is a great idea when filling out the back-end of your mixed-league roster, and it’s reasonable to think that he’s the .267-25-90, 10-steal player that his three-year average prorated to a full schedule indicates.

The problems, however, are that he’s now 30 years old, meaning we’ve probably already seen his best single year, and he’s joining a Marlins team whose home is one of the worst environments for power. Temper that three-year average for homers and RBIs, meaning Garcia will probably be more of a reliable-but-unspectacular, mixed-league OF5 type for fantasy. — Cockcroft

New York Mets sign OF Mark Canha: Canha brings the ability to cover both outfield corners or first base competently, plus center field in a pinch, and he might be the team’s ideal designated hitter if it’s reintroduced to the National League for 2022. Once a player with a reputation as a lefty masher, he has actually balanced his platoon splits to the point that he has performed better in his career against righties (.343 wOBA, compared to .325 against lefties), and his keen batting eye might make him a perfect complement to Brandon Nimmo in a prospective leadoff-spot platoon.

Canha probably isn’t the 12-SB performer he was in 2021 — that exceeded his entire 2016-20 total (10) — and he’s a bit too fly ball-oriented to raise his .244 career batting average, but he’s a handy daily-matchups play who could be a sneaky-good mixed league No. 5 outfielder if the Mets were to make him their everyday left fielder and leadoff man. — Cockcroft

Starting pitcher

Toronto Blue Jays sign SP Kevin Gausman: The first and perhaps only relevant thing that crossed my mind when I saw now-established right-hander Gausman signing on for five years with the Blue Jays was the massive difference in his old and new home ballparks. We make a big deal about this, but often it is important. So yeah, let’s make a big deal about it. Gausman was great in 2021 for the Giants, finishing as the No. 9 hurler on our Player Rater and No. 7 in points leagues, but now he has to pitch half the time in a hitter’s heaven! Oh, what will he do?

For the record, Gausman won 6 of 14 home starts a season ago, with a 3.44 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. In his 19 road starts, away from large Oracle Park, he won eight games with a 2.33 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Well, there goes that narrative! Gausman is simply a very good pitcher, thanks to leaving the incapable hands of the Baltimore organization and mastering his split-finger pitch in combination with his four-seam fastball.

Sure, pitching in San Francisco didn’t hurt. He twirled a 3.00 ERA over 251 2/3 innings for the Giants in two years, with a 10.9 K/9 and earning his $110-million deal with the Blue Jays. We should not expect a sub-3.00 ERA again, not in a strong hitter’s park and in that division, but this is a top-20 pitcher in our rankings and, as he enters his age-31 season, he looks to be safe. Gausman has a new narrative. He is just good. — Karabell

New York Mets sign SP Max Scherzer: If you can’t beat ’em, sign ’em. That’s the apparent strategy of the MetsCockcroft

Detroit Tigers sign SP Eduardo Rodriguez: If one looks solely at ERA, then sure, it looks like Rodriguez is coming off of a rough 2021. After all, his ERA was 4.74, eighth-worst among the 55 starting pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched. Using expected ERA from Fangraphs, however, we see Rodriguez boasts a 3.55 xERA, and that is 20th-best (and tied with the awesome Robbie Ray). He also tied Ray in fWAR. No, Rodriguez was not at all bad in 2021.

Truly, the underlying metrics show that this is an excellent pitcher in his prime with strong strikeout, walk and HR rates, who has just been seriously unlucky and hurt by Boston’s terrible defense. Rodriguez had a startling .363 BABIP against — the next-worst among starters was .326, and not so coincidentally another Boston pitcher (Nathan Eovaldi). Detroit’s infield remains a work in progress, but Tucker Barnhart, recently acquired from the Reds, is a solid catcher, and a big-money SS signing seems imminent. This defense should aid Rodriguez in 2022 and beyond.

Fantasy managers could see a few years ago that E-Rod was building up to becoming a valuable asset, and when he won 19 games with a 3.81 ERA and 213 strikeouts in 2019, we rejoiced. Perhaps that is the ceiling. Rodriguez has a 4.16 career ERA with a rather bloated 1.31 WHIP. Nobody calls him an ace, but he misses bats. He fanned 27.4% of the hitters he faced in 2021, good for 15th among starters and nearly tied with Cy Young candidate Lance Lynn in that category.

Ultimately, it’s time to reassess Rodriguez. He missed the 2020 season with myocarditis and, on the surface, it seems like his 2021 suffered. Truly, it did not. Now he leaves the rough AL East for an easier division and in a bigger home ballpark. If one regarded Rodriguez as a top-40 starting pitcher coming off his 2019 campaign, do it again. The Tigers are ascending and clearly spending money this offseason. Rodriguez should return close to his 2019 value. — Karabell

Texas Rangers sign SP Jon Gray: After seven long seasons of that familiar question, “What might Jon Gray do outside of Coors Field,” we’ll finally get our answer, after he signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers. Many fantasy baseball enthusiasts assume greatness for pitchers immediately upon their departures from the Rockies, but the sample of those is small, with Ubaldo Jimenez, traded as a 27-year-old (Gray is 30, by comparison) perhaps being the only rational comp. Jimenez works only in that his stuff wasn’t quite the same by the time he was traded as during his Rockies prime, just as Gray’s isn’t quite as good today as it was four years ago, and Jimenez’s post-Rockies career was rather disappointing. Still, Gray is escaping Coors for a Texas ballpark that is much more pitching-friendly than its predecessor, grading as roughly neutral but with a slight pitching lean during its first two years of existence.

Here’s the problem with simply shaving an arbitrary amount off Gray’s ERA and WHIP with his Coors exit: His home/road splits have been historically variable, his having pitched substantially better at Coors than away from it in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021, with his 2020 very much falling into the get-me-out-of-Coors!!! pattern. Gray has also shown inconsistent start-over-start patterns historically, and while some of that might’ve been Coors, I suspect it’s as much a need to tweak some of his pitches than simply the ballpark. He’s in a much better situation to thrive now, but I wonder whether a post-Coors adjustment, adapting to the lower altitude, is in order, making him much more of a dream candidate for getting for a song come May than someone worth drafting as for the potential premium of his being a top-60 fantasy starter. I’d call him more of a SP75-80. — Cockcroft

Los Angeles Angels sign SP Noah Syndergaard: Good for the Angels for taking the one-year gamble here. Well, perhaps it is good. Who knows? Do the Angels feel lucky? Syndergaard was great in his early days with the Mets — and as recently as 2018, when he posted a 3.03 ERA and fanned a hitter per inning. In 2019, he rose again to make 32 starts and he eclipsed 200 strikeouts, but he also led the NL in earned runs. There were also clear concerning signs like falling velocity (not just on his fastball) and spin rates. Still, he is Thor! He is great! Well, maybe he is.

Syndergaard missed the 2020 season due to inevitable Tommy John surgery and returned late in 2021 for a few one-inning outings that told us next to nothing, since he ignored his off-speed offerings. If healthy, there is obvious ceiling and upside here, since we know he can miss myriad bats and a fantasy manager must consider all of it, regardless of league format. He could be a top-20 starter if his velocity and health return! He could also make like seven starts again. Do you feel lucky?

What else is there to say? The Angels have a huge rotational need — more than most — and perhaps he fills that role. Still, it is quite easy to be skeptical, too. Take a chance relatively late in most fantasy leagues — like top-40 SP late — and hope to get lucky. — Karabell

St. Louis Cardinals sign SP Steven Matz: If we simply ignore the truncated 2020 season, the left-handed Matz has been a perfectly average depth starting pitcher for fantasy purposes, compiling an even 4.00 ERA in 2018, 2019 and 2021. Just forget about 2020. Oops, there goes another home run! Matz misses enough bats and, in those three seasons, averaged 30 starts for the Mets and Blue Jays, making him a reasonable streaming or fill-in option for fantasy managers. Now Matz is a Cardinals option and, while “safety” is hardly the best term to use and he is not someone you must draft, he has value back in the National League. Some value.

Matz bounced back nicely from a nightmare 2020. OK, time to stop bringing it up. He returned to career norms in strikeout rate, walk rate, ground-ball rate and Barrel percentage. His versatile pitch offerings remained consistent, and when he keeps opposing hitters from raking off-speed stuff 500 feet, Matz is fine. Just fine. He won 14 games in 2021, but do not expect that moving forward. That was run support. Matz is a five-inning pitcher, permitting a .871 OPS the third time through a lineup in 2021. Take him as your final starter in standard leagues and nothing more. — Karabell

Tampa Bay Rays sign SP Corey Kluber: Wow, the Rays signed two-time former Cy Young award winner Kluber! If the Rays are doing it, then it must be an awesome move, right? Well, there is little downside to the move, but fantasy managers should realize there is little chance that Kluber, 35, is going to make 30 starts or win 15 games. Kluber made 16 starts for the 2021 New York Yankees and they were reasonable ones. He missed bats, avoided home runs and kept hitters off balance with an effective changeup. Kluber barely throws the fastball and barely cracks 90 mph with it, but this is the Rays and they know what they are doing, right?

Good for the Rays and, at this stage of his career, Kluber. He is hardly someone to target as a top-40 starter in fantasy, mainly because the durability and consistency that once defined him with Cleveland is long gone. Shoulder woes washed out his 2020 campaign and limited him last season. The Rays qualified nary a pitcher for the ERA title in 2021 and they are likely to handle Kluber with the utmost of care, whether that means tandem starts and/or surprise IL stints. This can frustrate a fantasy manager. Expect Kluber to make fewer than 20 outings. At least they should be decent ones. — Karabell

Los Angeles Dodgers sign SP Andrew Heaney: Teams are always in search of the “next Robbie Ray” and, as Heaney’s 26.9% strikeout rate, his workload relative to his brethren last season, and his left-handedness are all eerily similar to Ray (who had a 27.1% strikeout rate back in 2020 as he headed towards free agency), it’s no surprise to see Heaney on such a candidacy list. It’s not a perfect comp since Heaney has a much better track record of control (6.7% career walk rate to Ray’s 12.2%). He also lacks the top-shelf strikeout rates Ray that historically had, as Ray has an electric, put-’em-away slider and Heaney does not.

Heaney is also a more extreme fly-baller, which explains all the home runs. Still, Heaney has an extremely high 90th-percentile fastball spin rate and the Dodgers are a good fit. If he and/or the team can improve his location during the offseason, he might be due for a big bounce-back campaign.

Few pitchers ever do what Ray did, though, so don’t get overzealous with your expectations and lock Heaney into your regular fantasy rotation, since a streamer’s value point remains more likely in standard mixed leagues. After all, Drew Smyly is another left-hander who had interesting underlying metrics as a free agent in each of the past two off-seasons, yet provided fantasy utility only sporadically in what were seemingly cozy landing spots themselves. — Cockcroft

Relief pitcher

Chicago White Sox sign RP Kendall Graveman: A sensation for a Seattle team that promptly traded him at last year’s deadline — he had a 0.82 ERA and 10 saves in 30 games for them! — Graveman settled back in as a solid, yet sometimes wild, setup man with the Astros. That’s the role he’ll occupy in Chicago, but his arrival complicates bullpen planning in that the White Sox had previously picked up closer-turned-setup-man Craig Kimbrel‘s 2022 option, with the expressed intent to trade him. Graveman is third in line for saves based off the roster today, but he’ll probably begin next season as one of the more attractive, hold-getting setup men and/or closer insurance policies, even if about the only chance we’ll see Graveman saves is in the case Liam Hendriks misses time due to injury. — Cockcroft

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One fun fact you (probably) did not know for all 30 MLB teams



From telling team numbers to surprising player stats, we find what you might have missed about your favorite squad.

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Deaths of woman, 2-year-old son at San Diego Padres’ Petco Park ruled suicide, homicide



A woman who fell to her death at Petco Park while holding her toddler son last September died by suicide, according to a San Diego Police Department statement Wednesday. Authorities ruled her 2-year-old son’s death a homicide.

San Diego residents Raquel Wilkins, 40, and her son, Denzel Browning-Wilkins, fell around 3:50 p.m. on Sept. 25 as baseball fans were heading into the stadium for a San Diego Padres game.

“Detectives conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation that included dozens of interviews, reviewing of available video footage, and collecting background information to determine what led to the deaths,” the San Diego police statement said. “In consultation with the San Diego County Medical Examiner, Raquel Wilkins’ death has been classified a suicide and Denzel Browning-Wilkins’ death has been classified a homicide.”

The woman and boy were pronounced dead at 4:11 p.m., about 20 minutes after police were alerted. The pair fell from a dining and concessions area on the third-floor concourse — the equivalent of six stories high — to a sidewalk below on Tony Gwynn Drive, police said. The child’s father was also at the ballpark, police said.

In a previous statement, San Diego police officials called the deaths “suspicious,” and the department’s homicide unit was called to investigate. At least one witness told a San Diego news outlet that Wilkins had jumped on a bench and was laughing before losing balance and falling.

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These MLB players deserve more love from Hall of Fame voters



Who will make this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame class? We don’t quite know that yet (results will be announced Tuesday), but there are a number of players who we’re pretty sure won’t make it. Either they’re not getting enough support on public ballots or they’re staring at a too-significant deficit from their previous year’s vote totals, among other factors. For many of these players, that’s justified — there’s no shame in lasting long enough to make a Hall of Fame ballot — but for others, we’re not quite sure it’s fair. We asked some of our experts to make their best cases for players who really should be getting more love from the voters.

Bobby Abreu

Bobby Abreu was a five-tool player in the truest sense — a patient hitter with power who acted as a perpetual stolen-base threat and could alter a game both with his arm and with his glove. But his career has also been defined by glaring slights, such as:

The final bullet represents the percentage of Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballots Abreu appeared on last year, in his second year of Hall of Fame eligibility. The year prior, he just barely reached the 5% threshold required to remain a candidate. This year, with 42.1% of ballots revealed, Abreu has pulled in only 11.5% of the vote, according to the data compiled by Ryan Thibodaux.

Abreu is admittedly not a surefire Hall of Famer. But his case is a lot closer than it appears, and he deserves far more consideration than he has been granted. From 1998 to 2004, Abreu ranked fifth in FanGraphs wins above replacement, behind only Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones. He played in at least 142 games in 14 straight seasons and frequently finished with at least a .300 batting average (six times), a .400 on-base percentage (eight), a .500 slugging percentage (five), 20 home runs (nine), 20 stolen bases (13), 100 RBIs (eight), 100 runs (eight), 100 walks (eight) and 3.0 FanGraphs WAR (10).

The average Baseball-Reference WAR for Hall of Fame right fielders is 71.1, and Abreu falls noticeably below that at 60.2. But that list of Hall of Fame right fielders includes Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Al Kaline — inner-circle Hall of Famers. Abreu isn’t at that level, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t worthy of inclusion altogether. His JAWS score (Jaffe wins above replacement), famously developed by Jay Jaffe, ranks 20th at his position, sandwiched between a couple of Hall of Famers in Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero.

Again, he’s close. Abreu’s career totals might not jump off the page — he finished just shy of a .300/.400/.500 slash line, 2,500 hits, 300 home runs and 1,400 RBIs, though he did steal exactly 400 bases — but he deserves far more consideration. — Alden Gonzalez

Andruw Jones

Andruw Jones, who is trending at 50% on public ballots in his fifth year of eligibility, is the most overlooked player on a ballot full of them. There are three reasons he should be garnering more Hall of Fame buzz:

1. He just might be the greatest outfielder who ever lived.

Baseball Reference measures the number of runs better or worse than average a player was by using defensive runs saved when available and its total zone rating when not. When doing so, Jones sits atop a list of some legendary outfielders:

Most runs from fielding
outfielders in MLB history

Andruw Jones 234.7
Roberto Clemente 204.8
Willie Mays 184.5

In all 10 seasons in which he was the Braves’ everyday center fielder (1998-07), Jones ranked in the top three among National League outfielders in putouts (and led the league six times). Over that span, Jones recorded 4,126 outfield putouts, 495 more than any player in baseball.

2. He enjoyed a brilliant peak, and it wasn’t short.

Jones played 11 full seasons for the Braves, from 1997 to 2007, and over that span, he produced 60.9 WAR. The only position players across baseball to generate more were Alex Rodriguez (85.7) and Barry Bonds (79.1), the two best players of their generation (albeit clouded by connections to performance-enhancing drugs).

Jones won a Gold Glove in 10 of those seasons (1998-07), in which he hit a total of 345 home runs. Only three players hit more homers in their Gold Glove seasons, and they are all first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Most HRs in Gold Glove seasons
Willie Mays 435
Ken Griffey Jr. 382
Mike Schmidt 369
Andruw Jones 345

3. He is as responsible for the Braves’ division dynasty as anybody.

That group is best remembered for its Big Three — Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz — all of whom were inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. So was Chipper Jones. Even manager Bobby Cox and general manager John Schuerholz have been enshrined.

But amid the Braves’ record streak of 14 consecutive division titles, Jones was, by WAR, their best player in a team-high five of those seasons, even though he didn’t play a full season until 1997.

Times Leading Braves in WAR
Division-Winning Seasons (1991-05)

Andruw Jones 5
Greg Maddux 2
J.D. Drew 1
Ron Gant 1
Marcus Giles 1
Tom Glavine 1
Chipper Jones 1
Terry Pendleton 1
John Smoltz 1

— Paul Hembekides

Billy Wagner

So far, eight relievers have snuck into Cooperstown, a number small enough that it remains debatable about where the line on their Hall worthiness should be drawn. Wherever that line ends up, Billy Wagner will be comfortably above it. He’s the best Hall-eligible reliever not yet enshrined in Cooperstown.

More than ever we can calculate the impact that elite relievers have on winning, and it is disproportionate to what you’d expect from aggregate raw statistics. You have to judge relievers through the prism of leverage-based statistics, and the practice of doing so is only going to become more necessary in the years to come, as increasingly those metrics determine how relievers are deployed in the first place.

Among the eight Hall relievers, five of them rate as the top five in Jaffe’s R-JAWS metric. Wagner is No. 6. He’s also sixth in both career saves (422) and win probability added among career relievers. He’s 44th all-time in win probability added among all pitchers, not just firemen. He was consistent and dominant for nearly his entire career — his 187 OPS+ ranks second among Hall-eligible relievers, behind Mariano Rivera.

Wagner appears to have gotten lost in the shuffle of a still-swollen backlog of qualified Hall candidates on the ballot. Seven years into his eligibility window, he has crept up on the 50% mark but hasn’t seen much growth in his support over past year. That needs to change and fast: Wagner has just three more years of eligibility remaining. — Bradford Doolittle

Andy Pettitte

Even Andy Pettitte’s old-school stats are better than you realize. He won 256 games in the majors, more than Carl Hubbell or Bob Gibson or Whitey Ford or Pedro Martinez. OK, sure, his 3.85 ERA would be the highest of any Hall of Famer other than Jack Morris, but his adjusted ERA+ of 117, well, that’s the same as Gaylord Perry, better than Dennis Eckersley or Steve Carlton or Fergie Jenkins or Robin Roberts or Nolan Ryan. Nobody is trying to kick those guys out of the Hall of Fame. As Sam Miller pointed out in an ESPN column, it was tough being a pitcher born in the 1970s and surviving the steroid era. Only Martinez and Roy Halladay have more career WAR than Pettitte among pitchers born in that decade.

I get it: Pettitte’s peak performance doesn’t scream Cooperstown — two qualified seasons with an ERA under 3.00, four top-five Cy Young votes, only three seasons above 5.0 WAR. He was a bit of a compiler, a guy who churned out his 200 innings every season, although of course there is a lot of value in doing that. With Pettitte, however, we also need to consider the postseason. For modern players, with multiple rounds of playoffs and so many more opportunities to pitch, this can add a lot to a player’s legacy.

Pettitte has won more games than any pitcher in postseason history (19), started the most games (44) and pitched the most innings (276). He went 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA and, yes, volume is again part of the success, but he allowed two runs or fewer in 23 of those 44 starts and pitched at least six innings in 35 starts. Yankees fans happily remember his greatest moments, including 8⅓ scoreless innings in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series and two wins in the 2009 World Series. Maybe he’s a borderline candidate via his regular-season numbers, but the five World Series rings are the exclamation point to his career. –– David Schoenfield

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