Actually, that proclamation isn’t completely correct. But I do owe C.C. Sabathia an apology.
During the 2nd week of May of last season – yes, almost one calendar year ago – I wrote that C.C. Sabathia was done. I don’t know if one going with all the information available to one and making one’s best judgment makes one wrong, but clearly something changed with C.C. that none of us could see coming. Well, maybe with the possible exception of someone in the Yankee organization (Larry Rothschild maybe?) who saw something in C.C. that suggested that he wasn’t done.
I wrote last May: In 2016, C.C. had what, at a cursory glance, may have appeared to be an average season. But a closer looked revealed a lot of base runners, a very low batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and many double plays. All that suggested that C.C. was getting lucky. He was actually putting many guys on base, but quite frequently, balls would be hit right at fielders.
Then at the beginning of the ’17 season, his luck apparently ran out. He was in the bottom 10% in baseball in FIP, ERA+, K per 9, K to BB ratio, K%, opponents’ OBP. Combine that with a severe drop in double plays and you have a pretty bad pitcher. If you’re into ERA, his was 5.77 going into his May 16th start last season.
Toss in age 36 with a recent history of weight and health issues and C.C. was done…right…?
Good. I’m glad you agreed with me, because…
From May 16th of 2017 to the end of the ’17 season his ERA was 2.95. In 109 innings, opponents’ OBP was .296 and opponents’ SLG was .399. Want some perspective on those numbers?
Take Ronald Torreyes. Then make him worse. That’s what the American League was on average against C.C. from May 16th through September 27th of last season.
So far this season, his K per 9 is up from last season and his BB per 9 is down. His WHIP is sub one, and he has an ERA+ of 260.
For those of you who are new to ERA+: C.C. has been better when compared to a league average pitcher than Didi Gregorius has been to a league average hitter this season. Put that in your small sample size.
Needless to say, it isn’t likely C.C. is going to keep the bar that high for the rest of ’18. But either way he deserves some recognition for what has been a phenomenal 12 month stretch, by any standards. And with that, he’s probably deserving of an apology from me. And likely you too.