While CC Sabathia‘s upcoming expected opt-out will remain the most pressing Yankee roster issue until it’s resolved, I expect both the big lefty and the Yankees to reach an agreeable conclusion in relatively short order, and thus won’t be losing too much sleep over the “will he” or “won’t he” hysteria.
However, I’m a bit surprised at the number of comments I’ve seen expressing an opposition to the Yankees re-upping one of the best pitchers in baseball. Postseason losses can do crazy things to a person, and though Sabathia not pitching the way we expected him to certainly stings, some perspective is needed before we go running one of the best pitchers to ever don pinstripes out of town.
For those worrying about cost and years of a new Sabathia contract, RLYW’s SG has you covered, ultimately concluding that something on the order of around six years, $138 million should represent a fair deal for both sides. Without delving too heavily into the numbers, that looks good to me.
While ordinarily I’d dive in and create a few charts of my own, I don’t think you need fancy graphs to tell you just how great Sabathia’s been. Instead, I’ll just share some facts that you may not have been aware of:
- Since 1969, CC Sabathia has the fourth-lowest ERA (3.18) among Yankee starting pitchers making a minimum of 101 starts with the team, ahead of such hallowed Yankee starters as Ron Guidry, Catfish Hunter, David Cone, Mike Mussina, El Duque, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells. In fact, the next best “dynasty” starter ERA is Wells’ 3.90.
- Though we know pitcher wins are pointless, Sabathia also has the highest winning percentage of the 17 pitchers that meet the 101-start criteria.
- Sabathia has the third-best K/9 of this group, after Cone and Clemens.
- Since his rookie season in 2001, Sabathia has the fourth-lowest ERA (3.51) in all of baseball among the 14 pitchers that have made a minimum of 300 starts, behind only Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Tim Hudson.
- Since joining the Yankees prior to the 2009 season, he has the 10th-lowest ERA (3.18) of the 71 pitchers that have made a minimum of 75 starts since then, and 4th-lowest among pitchers still in the American League.
- I know xFIP isn’t an ERA estimator for the following season, as league average home run rate changes every year; however, I still think it’s noteworthy that in 2009 Sabathia’s xFIP was 3.77 and he finished the 2010 season with a 3.18 ERA; and in 2010 his xFIP was 3.63 and he finished this past season with an even 3.00 ERA. His 2011 xFIP was 3.02, and while it’s probably not realistic to expect Sabathia to turn in another 3.00-ish ERA, I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he did.
I’m sure I can find more, but the fact remains that CC Sabathia has been one of the top 10 best pitchers on the planet during the last decade, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect several more years of greatness, especially when you consider he just posted the lowest full season American League ERA of his career, not to mention a Cy Young-caliber season. Even if he devolves into a Burnett-ian mess near the end of his new deal, this is one instance where the team should overpay if need be as Sabathia’s given us no reason to think he’ll be anything other than an elite pitcher for the foreseeable future.
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