Carsten Charles "CC" Sabathia, Jr. (born July 21, 1980) is an American professional baseball pitcher with the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). Upon signing with the Yankees prior to the 2009 season, Sabathia became the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history. He is listed at 6'7" and 290 pounds.
Sabathia played the first seven and a half seasons of his career with the Cleveland Indians, where he won the 2007 Cy Young Award. He played the second half of the 2008 MLB season with the Milwaukee Brewers, leading them to the Wild Card, their first playoff appearance in 26 years. In the offseason, Sabathia left via free agency and signed with the New York Yankees. Sabathia is regarded as one of the most durable pitchers in MLB, having amassed an average of over 200 innings pitched per season during his career.
High school career
Sabathia was born in Vallejo, California and attended Vallejo High School, where he excelled in baseball, basketball, and football. As a teenager, Sabathia played summer baseball in the Major League Baseball youth program, Reviving Baseball in Inner cities (RBI). In baseball, he compiled a win–loss record of 6–0 with an 0.77 earned run average (ERA) with 14 hits, and 82 strikeouts in 45 2⁄3 innings pitched during his senior season. Coming out of the draft he was the top high school prospect in Northern California according to Baseball America.
Draft and Minors
Sabathia was drafted in the first round (20th overall) by the Indians in the 1998 MLB draft. He signed for a $1.3 million bonus.
In 2000, he was selected for the 28-man United States Olympic Team roster. He appeared in one pre-Olympic tournament game in Sydney, Australia, but was not on the official 24-man, Gold Medal-winning roster because he was called up by the Cleveland Indians. He was named the Indians' 2000 Minor League Player of the Year (receiving the "Lou Boudreau Award").
Cleveland Indians (2001–2008)
In 2001, he was the youngest player in the Major Leagues. Sabathia led the league in hits per 9 innings pitched (7.44), was third in the league in win–loss percentage (17–5, .773), fourth in strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (8.53), sixth in wins, and seventh in strikeouts (171). He finished second in the AL voting for Rookie of the Year, behind only Ichiro Suzuki.
Sabathia signed a four-year $9.5 million contract with the Indians, with a club option for 2006, on February 23, 2002. In the 2002 season, he was tenth in the AL in strikeouts, with 149. In 2003, he had the tenth-best ERA in the AL (3.60). He was also named to the American League All-Star team for the first time. Sabathia made his second All-Star selection in a row as he finished the 2004 season by going 11–10 with a 4.12 ERA and 139 strikeouts.
The Indians picked up their $7 million club option for 2006 on April 27, 2005 and Sabathia signed a two-year, $17.75 million deal. In 2005, he was fourth in the AL in strikeouts/9 IP (7.37), seventh in strikeouts (161) and eighth in wins (15). This marked his fifth straight season of double digit wins to open a career. He threw the fastest fastball in the AL in 2005, averaging 94.7 miles per hour. He also hit his first career home run as a batter in interleague play off of Ryan Dempster in May. The Indians went 20–11 in his starts.
In 2006, he led the major leagues with 6 complete games. He also led the AL in shutouts (2), was third in ERA (3.22), sixth in strikeouts per 9 IP (8.03) and eighth in strikeouts (172). He became the first left-handed pitcher to start his career with six consecutive seasons of double digit wins.
Sabathia collected his 1,000th career strikeout on May 21, fanning the player who beat him out for Rookie of the Year honors: Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners. He was also named to the American League All-Star team for the third time. On September 28, he became the youngest pitcher (27 years, 69 days) to record 100 career wins since Greg Maddux in 1993. On October 23, Sabathia won the Players Choice Award for Outstanding AL Pitcher. His pitching performance led the Cleveland Indians to their first American League Central Division Championship since 2001, his rookie season. For his performance, he was awarded the 2007 American League Cy Young Award joining Gaylord Perry as the only two Cleveland Indians pitchers to ever win the award. (Cliff Lee became the third the following season.) Sabathia also won the Warren Spahn Award given to the best left-handed pitcher in the Majors. Despite his strong regular season, Sabathia did not perform well against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. In two starts, he went 0–2 with a 10.45 ERA.
Sabathia began the 2008 season 6–8 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 starts. He was leading the American League in strikeouts (123) and strikeouts per 9.0 innings (9.0) while ranking second in innings pitched (122.1) and tied for second in complete games (3). However, with the Indians out of playoff contention, and with Sabathia an impending free agent, the Indians sought to trade Sabathia.
At the time Sabathia departed Cleveland, he was fifth in club history in strikeouts (1,265) and sixth in strikeouts per 9.0 innings (7.448), and his 2007 strikeouts-to-walks ratio was a single-season best 5.649.
Milwaukee Brewers (2008)
On July 7, 2008, Sabathia was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson. During his press conference, Sabathia made it known to the assembled members of the media that he would prefer his name to be spelled "CC" rather than "C.C." He recorded his first win with the Brewers on July 8, 2008 against the Colorado Rockies. Sabathia was 17–10 overall (11–2 with Milwaukee) with a 2.70 ERA and was second in the majors (behind Tim Lincecum) with 251 strikeouts. Sabathia pitched three complete games in his first four starts with the Brewers, winning all four.
On July 30, 2008, Sabathia took out a large $12,870 ad in the sports section of Cleveland's daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer. The ad, signed by Sabathia, his wife Amber, and his family read:
Thank you for 10 great years ... You've touched our lives with your kindness, love and generosity. We are forever grateful! It's been a privilege and an honor!
On August 31, 2008, Sabathia threw what was ruled as a one-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park. The one hit for the Pirates came off of a check swing by Andy LaRoche in the fifth inning that rolled fair and was bobbled by Sabathia on an attempted bare-handed pickup. The team sent in an appeal to Major League Baseball to try to get the hit ruled as an error, but were unsuccessful. Sabathia struck out eleven in the Brewers' 7–0 win over the Pirates, making Sabathia's ninth complete game in the 2008 season. On September 28, 2008, Sabathia pitched a 4-hitter against the Cubs to win 3–1 in the final game of the season, clinching the wild card for the Brewers—their first-ever postseason berth as a National League club and their first since losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1982 World Series. It was Sabathia's 10th complete game of the year, the most complete games by any pitcher in a single season since Randy Johnson threw 12 in 1999. In 2008 Sabathia had the most effective slider among major league starting pitchers. When batters swung at his pitches, they failed to make any contact 28% of the time, the highest percentage among major league starting pitchers.
Sabathia started game 2 of the NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Brewers were heavily favored to win behind Sabathia, but Sabathia faltered, surrendering 5 runs in 32⁄3 innings, including a walk to the pitcher Brett Myers and a grand slam to Shane Victorino. The Phillies would go on to win the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Sabathia was sixth in the voting for the 2008 NL MVP award, behind Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, Ryan Howard of the Phillies, Ryan Braun also of the Brewers, Manny Ramirez of the Dodgers, and Lance Berkman of the Astros.
New York Yankees (2009–present)
2009: ALCS MVP and World Series championship
On December 18, 2008, Sabathia signed a seven-year, $161 million contract with the New York Yankees. It was the largest contract for a pitcher in MLB history until 2013 when Félix Hernández of the Seattle Mariners signed a seven-year $175 million contract. On March 26, 2009, manager Joe Girardi announced that Sabathia would be the Opening Day starter and the starter for the home opener at the new Yankee Stadium. Sabathia won his first championship ring with the Yankees, finishing 19–8 with a 3.37 ERA. Sabathia also won the American League Championship Series (ALCS) Most Valuable Player Award for his performance in the 2009 ALCS. Sabathia finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting behind Zack Greinke, Félix Hernández, and Justin Verlander.
2010: All-Star season
On April 10, 2010, Sabathia took a no-hitter into the 8th inning. With two outs in the inning, former teammate Kelly Shoppach ripped a single to left field, ending the no-hit bid. On July 4, he earned his fourth All-Star selection, and his first as a Yankee. On August 22, Sabathia recorded his 16th consecutive start of at least six innings allowing three earned runs or less, breaking a tie with Ron Guidry (from his Cy Young Award winning 1978 season) for the longest streak in franchise history. On September 18, he defeated the Baltimore Orioles to become baseball's first 20-game winner in 2010. The win also marks the first time he had ever won 20 games in a single season in his career. Sabathia had won 19 games in a season twice previously: in 2007 with the Indians and 2009 in his first season with the Yankees.
During the offseason, Sabathia was diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee, requiring arthroscopic surgery performed by Dr. Christopher Ahmad to repair. Sabathia began therapy immediately after the surgery and began his regular routine in preparation for spring training after three to six weeks. He lost from 25 to 30 pounds to prevent future problems with his knee.
2011: All-Star season
On July 26, 2011, Sabathia took a perfect game through 6 1⁄3 innings against the Seattle Mariners, retiring the first 19 batters he faced in a game interrupted twice due to rain. He ended up striking out 14 batters through 7 innings(setting a career high), and pitching another one-hitter, this one, a combined one-hitter. Sabathia was pulled before recording an out in the 8th after walking three batters to load the bases; relief pitchers David Robertson and Mariano Rivera finished the game, with Robertson allowing only one run (charged to Sabathia) on a double-play ground ball that would have ended the inning, but was bobbled by third baseman Eric Chavez. For his performance in July 2011, Sabathia was named AL Pitcher of the Month. He posted a 4–1 record with a 0.92 ERA during the month, striking out 50 batters and walking 13 in 39 innings. He also pitched two complete games and one shutout. Sabathia recorded his 2,000th career strikeout on September 10, 2011 against Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 2011, Sabatha had a 19–8 record, 3.00 ERA, 230 strikeouts, 237 1⁄3 innings pitched and a 1.21 WHIP.
Though his contract contained an opt-out clause that allowed him to become a free agent after the 2011 season, Sabathia said he had no intention of exercising it as he loves playing for the New York Yankees and his family loves life in New York. On October 31, 2011, Sabathia announced via his Twitter account that he would not be exercising his opt-out clause and had signed an extension with the Yankees. The extension was for an additional year on his original seven-year contract, worth $25 million, along with a $25 million vesting option with a $5 million buyout for the following year. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting after the season.
2012: All-Star season
Sabathia began the 2012 season with bad footing as he allowed a grand slam by Carlos Peña in his first inning of work on opening day against the Tampa Bay Rays. He recovered, however, going 9–3 with a 3.55 ERA in his first 14 starts. He threw a complete game against the Atlanta Braves on June 18.
In the 2012 American League Division Series, Sabathia won the first and fifth (deciding) games against the Baltimore Orioles, but lost Game Four of the ALCS, allowing the Detroit Tigers to sweep the Yankees. On October 25, 2012, Sabathia underwent arthroscopic surgery in his left elbow to remove a bone spur.
2013: Struggles and Injuries
In 2013, Sabathia's velocity decrease has been caused him to be a pitcher that had to rely more on location rather than velocity. On July 3, 2013, Sabathia collected his 200th career win against the Minnesota Twins. His season ended early due to a strained hamstring, finishing with a 14–13 record and a career-high 4.78 ERA.
2014: Injury Plagued season
On May 12, 2014, Sabathia was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to right knee inflammation. Fluid buildup was detected in the knee and the buildup was drained by a shot with no surgery required. Seeking a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews, he received a stem-cell shot in the knee. Sabathia was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on July 1 (retroactive to May 11) being sidelined until early to mid-July or later. After making a rehab appearance with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, Sabathia began to experience swelling in his right knee, putting his season in jeopardy. The Yankees projected that Sabathia might need microfracture surgery, which could potentially end his career. On July 16, it was announced that Sabathia's 2014 season had ended. In only 8 starts in 2014, Sabathia went 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA. He underwent surgery on July 23 to repair his degenerated knee. Luckily, he did not need microfracture surgery.
Sabathia reported to spring training weighing 305 pounds (138 kg), as he believed his decreased weight contributed to his poor 2014 season. During a game against the Angels on June 7, 2015, Sabathia recorded his 2,500th career strikeout but was later ejected along with Joe Girardi for getting into a confrontation with MLB umpire Dan Bellino following a double play.
Sabathia went on the disabled list after leaving the game of August 23 with right knee soreness. He had a 4-9 record with a 5.27 ERA in 24 games started to that point. He returned to the Yankees on September 9 wearing a knee brace. He pitched to a 2.17 ERA in five starts after returning, including winning the game that clinched the Yankees a playoff berth in the 2015 American League Wild Card Game.
On May 6, 2016, Sabathia was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a left groin strain. On May 20, Sabathia recorded his 100th win as a New York Yankee in a 8-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics, going 6 innings allowing 1 run and striking out 8.
Awards and Highlights
- 6× All-Star (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010–2012)
- World Series champion (2009)
- ALCS MVP (2009)
- AL Cy Young Award (2007)
- 2× MLB wins leader (2009, 2010)
- 2× AL shutouts leader (2006, 2008)
- NL shutouts leader (2008)
Despite throwing with his left hand as well as batting from the left, Sabathia is right-handed. Sabathia has five pitches: a cutter (86–89 MPH), a more used two-seam/sinker fastball (88–92 MPH), a curve ball (74-76 MPH), a slider (77–80 MPH), and changeup (80–82 MPH). Once ahead in the count, he primarily uses his changeup to strike out right-handed batters, and his slider to strike out left-handers. He also exhibits good command of his pitches, posting a 5.65 K/BB ratio in 2007.
Sabathia holds a lifetime postseason record of 9 wins and 5 losses in 19 games. He has pitched a total of 61 1⁄3 postseason innings, giving up 61 hits, 25 walks and 30 earned runs resulting in a 4.40 ERA. He also struck out 56 batters.
As of the end of the 2014 season, Sabathia has acquired 25 hits in 115 plate appearances, making him one of the more successful pitchers from a hitting standpoint. On one occasion, Sabathia hit a 440-foot home run on June 21, 2008, off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park. He commented later, saying "I told everybody I was trying to hit homers today because I had two singles last year and everybody was all over me, saying I was a singles hitter. It was awesome." On July 13, 2008, in his second game with the Brewers, Sabathia hit his second home run of the season off Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey, becoming the third pitcher in history to homer in both leagues in the same season and the first since Earl Wilson did it in 1970 with Detroit and San Diego.
Sabathia's reputation of pitching a high number of effective innings each season has led to sports broadcasters often referring to him as a workhorse. Sabathia has the most lifetime complete games of any active pitcher, with 37 as of the end of 2013.
Sabathia and his wife, Amber, have four children: a son Carsten Charles III (born 2003), a daughter Jaeden Arie (born 2005), a daughter, Cyia (born 2008), and a son Carter (born 2010). The family lived in Fairfield, California outside his hometown of Vallejo, California near San Francisco until he signed with the Yankees. Then the family moved to Alpine, New Jersey. The family loves life in New Jersey and being so close to New York City. Nevertheless, Sabathia remains connected to his hometown. On January 27, 2012, Vallejo High School honored Sabathia by declaring it "CC Sabathia Day" and renaming the school's baseball field in his honor.
Sabathia also appeared on a promotional video for Battlefield Bad Company 2 against "Random Grenade Throws" which showed him doing a public service announcement about random grenade throws. It spoofs the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 public service announcement with Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. Sabathia remains very close friends with former teammates Cliff Lee and Prince Fielder. Sabathia is a supporter of Crutches4Kids. He is an Oakland Raiders fan.
Sabathia operates a charity, the PitCChIn Foundation, which supports inner city children. In 2014, the foundation supported a team of runners in the 2014 New York City Marathon, consisting of Amber, the wife of Amar'e Stoudemire, Tiki Barber and Angie Martinez.
On October 5, 2015, Sabathia announced that he was checking himself into an alcohol treatment center. During the previous weekend, Sabathia had been binge drinking in the hotel while the Yankees were on the road in Baltimore, including drinking in the clubhouse after a game that had been cancelled due to rain.