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Entries in CC Sabathia (15)


0-0: First Pitches, Much About Something

Getting ahead of batters is a stat that can never be minimized which why the first pitch of an at bat is so critical. That first pitch sets the tone for the at bat as the pitcher creates the mosaic of an at bat.

But that first pitch is dangerous for pitchers

So far this season, batters are hitting .343 with 278 homers on the first pitch of an at bat. This is slightly better than the 1-0 count in which batters are hitting .337 with 178 homers and a lot better than the .303 and 151 homers they hit when down 0-1.

Let's look at the leaders in the variables associated with the first pitch.

Nobody has faced more batters than:

Nobody has produced more balls in play on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has allowed more hits on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has allowed fewer hits on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has allowed more homers on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has allowed fewer homers on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has produced more swings on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • Patrick Corbin - 283 swings
  • Cole Hamels - 272 swings
  • Justin Verlander - 258 swings

Nobody has produced more swings and misses on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • Matt Harvey - 71 swings and misses
  • Yu Darvish - 69 swings and misses
  • Justin Verlander - 68 swings and misses
  • Mat Latos - 68 swings and misses

Nobody has produced fewer swings and misses on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • Scott Feldman - 19 swings and misses
  • Bronson Arroyo - 21 swings and misses
  • Kevin Correa - 22 swings and misses

Nobody has produced more called strikes on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • CC Sabathia - 326 called strikes
  • Chris Sale - 324 called strikes
  • CJ Wilson - 313 called strikes

Nobody has produced fewer called strikes on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has a lower batting average against on the first pitch of an at bat than:

  • Kris Medlen - .245
  • Jorge de la Rosa - .247
  • Clayton Kershaw - .248

Nobody has a higher batting average against on the first pitch of an at bat than:

Nobody has produced more 1-0 plate appearances than:

Nobody has produced fewer 1-0 plate appearances than:

Chipper Jones on going after the first pitch:

“There are certain pitchers, quite frankly, that you can’t get behind,” Jones said. “You want to be aggressive and the first hittable fastball that you get is the pitch you want to put in play. Because they’ll bury you if they get ahead of you. You can’t let them do that.”


CC Sabathia's HR Woes

Yankees starter CC Sabathia has coughed up a career-high 24 home runs during the 2013 season. That's tied with R.A. Dickey and Joe Blanton for second-most among all starting pitchers. While the 33-year-old has bested fellow $20 million-plus-a-year veterans Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira by at least staying on the field, Sabathia also has the eighth-worst adjusted ERA (85 ERA+) among qualified American League starters.

The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner and six-time All-Star has usually been one of the game's best at preventing big flys, allowing just 0.8 home runs nine innings from his rookie year in 2001 through 2012. Why has Sabathia (1.4 HR/9 in 2013) seemingly morphed into a left-handed Phil Hughes? Here's a closer look at how hitters are taking CC deep.

  • Sabathia's no-longer-fast fastball is the main culprit, as hitters have homered 15 times against the pitch in 2013. Only A.J. Griffin (20) has given up more home runs with the fastball. As Sabathia's velocity diminishes, hitters are increasingly ripping his fastball down the lines and into the seats. He has lost about three ticks since 2011, and opponents are now pulling well over 40 percent of his fastballs:

Sabathia's slowing fastball

Ten of the 15 fastball home runs Sabathia has given up this year have been pulled. Back in 2011, CC trailed just David Price and Derek Holland in average fastball velocity among lefty starters. This year, he places a middling 21st out of 44 lefty starters who have thrown at least 500 fastballs.

  • Sabathia is leaving more pitches over the middle of the strike zone this season (27%) than in 2012 (24%), and he's paying for it. Eleven of the 24 homers he has allowed have caught the fat part of the plate, already surpassing his 2012 total (eight).
  • He's also generating fewer ground balls in 2013 (46% of balls put in play) than in 2012 (49%). Opponents aren't just putting the ball in the air more frequently against Sabathia, though -- they're driving those fly balls farther. Fly balls hit off CC are traveling an average of 272 feet this year, up from 259 feet last season and the 266 foot average for starting pitchers.
  • Sabathia is getting scorched more often when the hitter's back is against the wall, allowing more two-strike home runs in 2013 (eight) than in 2011 and 2012 combined (six). CC's newfound aggression with two strikes may be part of the problem -- he's throwing pitches over the plate 48% of the time in two-strike counts this year, compared to 38% in 2012. Six of the eight homers he has given up in two-strike counts have come on in-zone pitches.

CC Sabathia - Three Starts in July 2011, 2012, and 2013

It's time to face the reality that Roy Halliday is not Roy Halliday anymore and CC Sabathia is not CC Sabathia anymore (and we have to begin to wonder if Justin Verlander is Justin Verlander anymore).

There comes a point, even in great pitcher's careers, when they are not the same pitcher they once were.

They don't have the same stuff, the same speed, the same power, the same accuracy, even the same aura they once did. It can happen gradually, or it can take some time. Sometimes the diminution of dominance is so gradual that we don't see it happening in real time, we can only see it in retrospect.

To the Way Back Machine

CC Sabathia: July 16 to July 26, 2011 - three starts

  1. Sabathia went 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA and a 0.826 WHIP
  2. In 23 IP he allowed four runs on nine hits (including one homer) and 10 walks
  3. Batters hit .120/.224/.200
  4. He struck out 30.
  5. He threw 132 fastballs averaging 94.3 mph
  6. He threw 76 pitches 95+ mph. 

CC Sabathia: July 17 to July 28, 2012 - three starts

  1. Coming off the DL, Sabathia went 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.158 WHIP
  2. In 19 IP he allowed nine runs on 18 hits (including three homers) and four walks
  3. Batters hit .240/.278/.427
  4. He struck out 18.
  5. He threw 109 fastballs averaging 92.7 mph
  6. He threw one pitch 95+ mph. He threw 131 pitches 92+ mph.

CC Today

CC Sabathia: July 14 to July 26, 2013 - three starts

  1. In his last three starts, Sabathia has gone 0-2 with a 10.93 ERA and a 2.357 WHIP
  2. In 14 IP he has allowed 22 runs (17 earned)  on 26 hits (including three homers) and seven walks
  3. Batters have hit .388/.461/.627
  4. He has struck out 16.
  5. He has thrown 91 fastballs averaging 92.2 mph
  6. He threw one pitch 94.9 mph. He has thrown 80 pitches 92+ mph. He has thrown 90 pitches 88 to 92 mph. On pitches over 88 mph, batters are hitting .552.

It's just three snapshots

Since July 14, the league has a 3.16 ERA amongst qualified starters. And, only Josh Johnson's 12.51 ERA is worse than Sabathia's and Joe Saunders' .400 BAA is the only one worse than Sabathia. 

How much or how little this tells you depends on how willing you are to accept what your eyes and mind sees and knows.

There are some fans and experts who prefer to see what their memory and their heart tells them. 

Now, this is not to say that CC will never pitch another good game. And this is not to say that CC cannot make the adjustment to being more of a finesse pitcher and less of a power pitcher.

It may be just three snapshots over three Julys, but these are three pictures of CC Sabathia and clearly none are the picture of Dorian Gray.

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