CC Sabathia recently surpassed Cy Young on the all-time strikeouts list, moving up from #21 to #20 with his 2,800th strikeout.
Are Cy Young’s stats a little crooked because of the time he played in. Yes, since he was probably throwing against guys who doubled as accountants during the offseason. But anytime you pass a name that the Pitcher of the Year award is named after, it’s a big deal.
So this milestone of his got me thinking, will CC see himself enshrined in Cooperstown once he hangs up the cleats?
He began his career with the Cleveland Indians, emerging onto the scene as a workhorse rookie. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2001 with a 17-5 record. From that point on, he sat around the 12-15 wins and the mid-4 ERA territory for most of his Cleveland stint, which definitely isn’t that great, but he finished strong by winning the Cy Young in 2007 with a 19-7 record, 3.21 ERA, 209 Ks, and a league-leading 241.0 innings pitched.
Everybody remembers in 2009 when the Yankees “bought” their World Series with the big signings of A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia. Sabathia was coming off a legendary trade deadline performance in 2008, bringing the Brewers to the playoffs with an 11-2 record and 1.65 ERA in 17 games started in the second half. He was the ace of the MLB and the most desired pitcher on the market. The Yanks got him, and started the long process of adding old vets to replace even older vets, but that’s a story for another day. The CC signing worked out, as we won a title that year, and he was exactly the ace we needed him to be by posting a 19-8 record with a 3.37 ERA. He was also the ALCS MVP that year.
He then went on to win 21, 19, and 15 games and sat around a 3.20 ERA in the following three years before his weight problems caught up to him and he lost his fastball entirely.
Now he has reformatted himself into a precision pitcher, relying on offspeed pitches and veteran know-how to be successful. At times this year he has been great, and I can speak for most Yankee fans when I say he has been more than we expected.
So after looking back at his career, you have to think, is it Hall of Fame worthy? I’m not so sure.
The 6-time All-Star, Cy Young Award winner, World Series Champ, and perennial workhorse just doesn’t seem to have eye-popping statistics.
The best comparison I can make to him is Mike Mussina.
Moose finished his career with 270 wins, a 3.68 ERA, and 2,813 Ks. He was a guy that, in his prime, always sat around 5th or 6th place in the Cy Young voting (although he never won like CC), was well-respected around the league, and was a Gold Glove pitcher (he won 7). But, Mike Mussina is NOT in the Hall of Fame.
Comparing Sabathia’s numbers to his, it’s not looking good for Ol’ Reliable.
C.C. Sabathia: 232-144, 3.70 ERA, 2,800 K’s, 1.252 WHIP, 60.7 WAR, 3,261.2 IP
Mike Mussina: 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 2,813 K’s, 1.192 WHIP, 83 WAR, 3,562.2 IP
So while CC Sabathia may finish his career with more strikeouts than Moose, it seems as though he’ll get beat in every other major category.
Granted, Sabathia can still likely play another 2-3 years and maybe bolster those numbers a little. Maybe he’ll go play for a contender in the AL (Yankees, Astros) or move to the NL where he doesn’t have to deal with a DH (Dodgers, Brewers, Nationals) so his numbers look better towards the end. Having a Cy Young and a title under his belt helps him a lot, but will it be enough?
Unfortunately, I say #52 falls short of being carved into baseball immortality, but he certainly will not live a forgotten career.