10 things you should know about Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte’s retirement breaks a major link in the chain of recent Yankee greatness, especially with the Core Four — a group which won a total of five World Series and seven American League pennants starting in 1996. With Mariano Rivera also exiting this year, and Jorge Posada retiring following the 2011 season, only Derek Jeter remains — and the future of the soon-to-be 40-year-old shortstop is certainly uncertain.

Here are 10 things you should know about Andrew Eugene Pettitte.

1. Pettitte owns a 255-152 career record, good for a .627 career percentage.

2. He is one of just 26 pitchers in baseball history to post a career mark of 100+ games over .500, and the only one still active.

3. Of the previous 25 pitchers to accomplish the feat, 18 are in the Hall of Fame.

4. Pettitte is third all-time on the Yankee win list. His 218 victories trail only Hall of Famers Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing. He’s also first in strikeouts (2009), second in starts and third in innings pitched.

5. He left the Yankees following the 2003 season to sign a free agent contract with Houston and helped lead the Astros to their only World Series in 2005.

6. With a 20-11 career mark against Boston, Yankee fans will always wonder whether having Pettitte on the mound might have stemmed the tide of Boston’s record comeback from three games down in the 2004 ALCS.

7. Pettitte compiled a 90-39 record against the Yankees AL East rivals (20-11 vs. Boston, 28-6 vs. Baltimore, 17-8 vs. Tampa Bay and 25-14 vs. Toronto). That’s a .698 winning percentage.

8. His 19 post-season wins are the most in baseball history. Atlanta’s John Smoltz is next on the list with 15. Whitey Ford has the most World Series wins with 10.

9. Perhaps Pettitte’s most memorable win was a 1-0 shutout over Smoltz in the fifth game of the 1996 World Series.

10. Pettitte retired once previously, after the 2007 season. He returned in 2009, and was the winning pitcher in Game Six as the Yankees beat Philadelphia to win their 27th World Championship.

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These Active Players Headed for Cooperstown

Derek Jeter, left, and Mariano Rivera are sure bets for the Hall of Fame.

From this catbird’s seat, the SportsLifer sees nine active players heading for the Hall of Fame.

Criteria for consideration includes at least a 10-year, major league resume. Players linked to steroids, who might otherwise be Cooperstown bound, are instead banished to the Mark McGwire waiting room.

The list of nine HOFers includes three infielders, three outfielders and three pitchers, two of them relievers.  There are three other players on the cusp who will merit strong consideration by voters.

Of note, Pedro Martinez will qualify for this list once he takes the mound for the Phillies. He’s currently on the disabled list and hasn’t pitched yet this year.

Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki, each with nine years of service, will certainly be added to this list next year.

Lastly…and sadly…are five other players who would have made the list but for the needle and the damage done.

Hall of Famers

Ken Griffey, Jr, OF — Active leader, 5th all time with  621 HRs, 1798  RBIs, .286 BA, 184 SBs, 1997 AL MVP, played for Mariners and Reds, shown left

Vladimir Guerrero, OF — 396 HRs, 1289 RBIs, .322 lifetime BA, stole 175 bases, AL MVP with Angels in 2004

Trevor Hoffman, RP — All-time saves leader with 575, 2.76 ERA, played primarily for Padres, now with Brewers

Derek Jeter, SS — Captain of the Yankees, four-time World Champion, .316 lifetime BA, 216 HRs, 1039 RBIs, 292 stolen bases

Randy Johnson, P — The Big Unit, 303 lifetime wins, second all-time in strikeouts with 4867, five-time Cy Young award winner with Mariners and D’Backs

Chipper Jones, 3B — Played entire career with Braves, 417 HRs, 1416 RBIs, .310 BA, NL MVP in 1999, .364 NL batting champ in 2008

Mariano Rivera, RP — 505 saves, 2.29 lifetime ERA, post-season exploits with Yankees are unsurpassed, 34 saves, 0.80 ERA, 0.87 WHIP

John Smoltz, P — 211 victories, 154 saves, 3.27 lifetime ERA,, earned primarily with the Braves; 1996 NL Cy Young, record 15 post-season wins.

Jim Thome, 1B —  13th on the all-time home run list  with 557 dingers, he also has 1545 RBIs for Indians, White Sox, Phillies

Special Consideration

Pedro Martinez, P — Just signed with Phillies, three-time Cy Young Award winner with Expos and Red Sox, 214-99, 2.91 lifetime.

On the Cusp

 Carlos Delgado, 1B — 473 home runs, 1512 RBIs for this slugger, who played for the Blue Jays and now Mets

Jorge Posada, C — Caught for the Yankees during their late 1990s dynasty, has 231 homers and 916 RBIs…276 BA

Johan Santana, P — 119-58 lifetime, 3.11 ERA, Cy Young winner with Twins in 2004, 2006, now pitches for Mets

Omar Vizquel, SS — Known as a slick fielder with 11 Gold Gloves, he has collected nearly 2,700 hits and 400 SBs

Nine Years And Counting

Albert Pujols, 1B — 353 HRs, 1066 RBIs, .332 BA, NL MVP 2005, 2008 with Cardinals, NL batting champion in 2003

Ichiro Suzuki, OF — 1936 hits, .332 BA, 334 steals, AL MVP in 2001 with Mariners, AL batting champ in 2001, 2004

Ineligible Juicers

Jason Giambi

Manny Ramirez

Alex Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez

Gary Sheffield