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Looking Back at the Career of CC Sabathia

On October 17th, in ALCS Game 4 against the Houston Astros, we very well may have seen the last of Carsten Charles Sabathia Jr. Before the 2019 season kicked off, Sabathia announced he would retire at years end.


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CC had multiple stints on the injured list in 2019 due to complications with his right knee. When healthy in 2019, Sabathia recorded his 3,000 strikeout, becoming only the third lefty to do so. Sabathia also registered his 250th career win, finishing the season 5-8 with a 4.95 ERA.

Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

Going into the postseason, Sabathia was left off of the 25-man roster for the ALDS, presumably giving him time to heal his knee some more. After the Yankees swept the Twins, CC was placed back on the roster for the ALCS as a reliever.

With his career coming to an end, we here at GCSN decided to take a look back at the career of CC Sabathia. CC was a 3 sport athlete at Vallejo High School, excelling in baseball, basketball and football. He was the top high school prospect in Northern California according to Baseball America. In football, CC was an all-conference tight end, even receiving scholarships to play college football.

Sabathia signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Hawai’i to play both baseball and football. After graduating from high school in 1998, Sabathia skipped college, going directly from high school to minor league baseball.

With the 20th overall selection, the Cleveland Indians drafted Sabathia. CC was in the Indians’ farm system for three seasons before getting the call up to the big leagues while he was pitching for the US Olympic Team. CC played in one pre-Olympic tournament game in Australia, however did not make the 24-man roster due to the call up.

At age 20, CC started his rookie year with the Indians, being the youngest player in the league that year. CC finished that year second in voting for AL Rookie of the Year behind the incredible Ichiro Suzuki. In 2002, Sabathia signed a 4-year, $9.5 million deal with the Indians. In 2003, Sabathia was selected to his first All-Star team, and made his second appearance the following year.

The Indians picked up Sabathia’s $7 million option for 2006, with Sabathia signing a 2-year, $17.5 million deal. The deal paid off, as in 2006 Sabathia led the major leagues with 6 complete games. Sabathia also led the American League with 2 shutouts, was third in ERA with a 3.22, and was eighth in strikeouts with 172. CC also became the first lefty to start his career with six consecutive seasons of double digit wins.

The Pinstripe Empire

Sabathia went on to win the AL Cy Young in 2007, finishing the year with a 19-7 record with a 3.21 ERA in a league leading 241 innings. During that year, Sabathia recorded his 1,000th strikeout, ironically against the man who beat him out for Rookie of the Year, Ichiro Suzuki.

Sabathia became the youngest pitcher to record 100 career wins since the great Greg Maddux, and led the Indians to its first American League Central Division Championship since 2001, which was his rookie season.

Sabathia performed exceptionally well in the 2007 season, however struggled in the ALCS, going 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA against the Boston Red Sox. The struggles seemed to continue into the 2008 season, with Sabathia going 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA in just 18 starts. With that year being Sabathia’s contract year, the Indians decided to trade him to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Sports Illustrated

Sabathia helped lead the Brewers to the playoffs for the first time since 1982. Sabathia pitched incredible with the Brewers, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA. Sabathia was obviously the workhorse for the Brewers, having pitched on 3 days rest for four consecutive starts. Sabathia did all he could, however the Phillies would defeat the Brewers and go on to win the World Series.

In December of 2008, Sabathia would be apart of huge spending year for the New York Yankees. Following signings of A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira the Yankees announced they had signed CC Sabathia to the largest contract in MLB history for a pitcher at that time, with a 7-year $161 million contract. Manager Joe Girardi announced CC would be the Opening Day starter for the team.

NBC New York

In his first year as a Yankee, Sabathia went 19-9 with a 3.37 ERA. Sabathia’s 19 wins were tied for the most in the league, helping lead the Yankees to an MLB best 103-59 record. In the postseason that year, Sabathia earned his first career postseason victory in the first game of the ALDS against the Twins. Sabathia was named the ALCS MVP, with a 2-0 record and 1.13 ERA against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In the 2009 World Series, Sabathia started two games however did not pick up a win in either. CC posted a 3.29 ERA in 13.2 innings, which helped the Yankees win their 27th World Seires, and Sabathia’s first. That year, Sabathia won the Warren Spahn Award (leagues best lefty) for the third season in a row.

David J. Phillip – Associated Press

Between the years of 2010-2012, CC Sabathia pitched in 95 games, going 55-21 with a 3.17 ERA. In those 3 years, Sabathia was named to all 3 All-Star games and lead the league in 2010 with 21 wins, which was the first time he had won over 20 games in his career. During the 2010 offseason, CC was diagnosed with a torn meniscus in the right knee that would continue to give him problems throughout his career.

In 2011, Sabathia finished the year with 230 strikeouts, which marked the third-highest number of strikeouts in Yankees history, and was the most since Ron Guidry in 1978. CC also became the first Yankee pitcher to strike out more than 200 batters in a single season since Randy Johnson in 2005, and was also the first Yankee pitcher to finish in the top two in the American League in strikeouts since Randy Johnson that same year.

2013 was a rough year for Sabathia. He collected his 200th career win, however his season ended early due to a strained hamstring. He finished the year 14-13 with a then career-worst 4.78 ERA. Sabathia arrived at 2014 spring training 40 pounds lighter and admitted to crash dieting after his cousin had died of heart disease. He was plagued by right knee difficulties and in July, it was announced his season had ended after only 8 starts.

Fred Thornhill – Associated Press

CC began the 2015 season at 305 pounds. Sabathia had believed his decrease in weight had contributed to his poor 2014 season. In 2015, CC recorded his 2,500th career strikeout, becoming the 31st pitcher in league history to do so. In August of 2015, CC was placed on the disabled list with the same right knee troubles. 

CC returned to the Yankees in September wearing a knee brace, and pitched a 2.17 ERA in five starts. Sabathia also pitched in the winning game that clinched a playoff berth for the Yankees, sending them to the AL Wild Card game. Sabathia missed that game, however, after he checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Sabathia went through a career resurgence in 2017, successfully transitioning from a power pitcher, to a pitcher who relied on command and control. In 2018, CC re-signed with the Yankees on a 1-year, $10 million deal. Sabathia recorded his 1,500th strikeout as a Yankee, joining Andy Pettitte, Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry and Red Ruffing on the list of Yankees with 1,500 strikeouts.

In a game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018, CC was ejected for intentionally hitting Jesus Sucre after Rays’ pitcher Andrew Kittredge threw at Yankee catcher Austin Romine’s head in retaliation for Sabathia hitting Jake Bauers earlier in the game. CC received a 5-game suspension, which cost him a $500,000 innings pitched bonus. After the season had ended, the Yankees ended up paying CC the $500,000 anyway.

Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I understand it may be a long article, but how can you look at an incredible career such as CC Sabathia’s in a short time? Sabathia is a no-nonsense veteran that stood up for his teammates and battled demons like the rest of us. He didn’t let his addiction get the better of him, he got help for it, and he came back a better person.

Not only that, but the man had a stent placed in his heart to open blockage of a coronary artery. Currently, CC Sabathia leads all active pitchers in wins, loses, games started, complete games, innings pitched, hits allowed, earned runs allowed, walks allowed, strikeouts and batters faced.

He is a 6 time All-Star and a World Series Champion. He has won the ALCS MVP award and the Cy Young Award. He is a 3 time Warren Spahn Award winner, and has led the American League in wins twice (2009, 2010). He led the American League in shutouts twice (2006, 2008) and led the National League in shutouts (2008) as well.

As stated earlier, we have more than likely seen the last of CC Sabathia, and as a Yankee fan and a baseball fan, I would like to thank the future Hall of Famer for all of his contributions to the sport. I’m sure we will see Sabathia in baseball again, either as a pitching coach, manager, or possibly an analyst. Can you imagine a post game with David Ortiz, A-Rod, Frank Thomas and CC Sabathia? Yes please!

Featured Photo Credit: New York Post

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