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Entries in CC Sabathia (15)


Comparing Sabathia Seasons

CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees finished his regular season work this week.  He'll pitch a simulated game before his start in the playoffs.  His 2011 ended 1/3 of an inning short of his 2010 total, making a comparison of the two seasons easy.  CC pitched both better and worse than last year.

The big lefty posted a 3.00 ERA, 0.18 runs lower than in 2010.  His opposition batting statistics, however, were a bit higher.


  2010 2011
Avg 0.239 0.255
OBP 0.301 0.305
Slug 0.355 0.361
wOBA 0.291 0.294


Note that what happened was an increase in singles allowed.  He walked fewer batters (only a four point increase in his OBP) and gave up fewer long hits (a six point increase in slugging percentage).  CC traded some walks for singles, and as far as his ERA was concerned, it didn't matter that much.

The real improvement in Sabathia shows up in his attacking the strike zone:


  2010 2011
Strike % 63.3% 66.4%
Swing % 45.9% 47.9%
Miss % 22.0% 24.9%
Chase % 30.2% 32.4%
Called Strike% 32.2% 35.6%


Milliliter not only induced more swings, he induced batters to chase more pitches out of the zone, resulting in more misses.  On top of that, CC picked up more strikes when batters didn't swing.  He did a better job dominating the strike zone, so why did he give up more hits?


  2010 2011
In Play Pct 42.0% 39.8%
BABIP 0.283 0.322


Even though hitters were putting the ball in play less, they were finding holes more.  Let's face it, the Yankees left side of the infield is getting old, and more balls get through on that side of the field.  With better defense behind him CC might have dropped his ERA even further.  His increased strikeout rate and lower walk rate made up for the fielders behind him.


Sabathia's Boston Problem

CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees pitched very well this season, except against the Boston Red Sox.  CC's problems occur on three of his four pitches; the fastball, the sinker, and the change up.  His problems are two-fold, in that his pitches miss the strike zone more, and the Boston hitters track his offerings better.

Overall, Sabathia does an excellent job of hitting the strike zone with those three pitches:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.He misses to the catcher's right hand, and close enough that batters will often go after those pitches.  Against the Red Sox, he misses wider:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency vs. Boston, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.CC also avoids the middle of the plate more, especially up.  The following table shows how these wide misses hurt Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011 All Teams Red Sox
In Strike Zone %
51.2 44.7
Strike % 67.5 61.8
Called Strikes %
35.2 29.7
Swing % 49.9 45.7
Miss % (of swings) 18.8 15.0
Chase % 31.4 27.0


The first three rows represent CC's break down.  He throws fewer pitches in the zone, and that leads to fewer strikes, mostly because there are fewer pitches to take for strikes.  The next three rows show how the Red Sox react to this.  A team of selective hitters, they swing less, especially since fewer pitches are in the strike zone.  Swinging at better pitches, (lower chase %) they make more contact (fewer misses).  That leads to this statistical disparity for Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011 All Teams Red Sox
Batting Average 0.262 0.357
On Base Percentage 0.323 0.373
Slugging Percentage 0.361 0.561
wOBA 0.303 0.417


Even a great pitcher can't afford to make too many mistakes against the Red Sox.


CC's 13 Ks

CC Sabathia tied a career high in strikeouts yesterday afternoon, fanning 13 Milwaukee Brewers in 7.2 innings as the Yankees rolled to a 5-0 victory and a series sweep. All of Sabathia's punch outs versus the club that he propelled to the playoffs in 2008 were of the swinging variety.

Seven of CCs Ks came on his slider. A souped-up fastball averaging about 95 MPH (his season average is 93.5 MPH) recorded four whiffs, and his changeup got two strikeouts.

Sabathia managed to sit down Prince Fielder, ranking fourth in the majors in Weighted On-Base Average, twice. Sabathia blew a high 96 MPH fastball past the Big Veggie in the first inning. With the bases loaded and two out in the third, Fielder swung through an 85 MPH slider perfectly located on the outside corner of the plate:

Fielder's Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011Sabathia also victimized lefty hitters Mat Gamel and George Kottaras twice on sliders.  Each whiffed at a slider in the zone and chased one off the plate. Well off the plate, in Gamel's case:

Gamel's Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Kottaras' Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Sabathia toyed with righty-hitting Rickie Weeks, striking him out on a pair of 95 MPH fastballs on the outside corner and a diving 88 MPH changeup in nearly the same spot:

Weeks' Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Likely well aware of Carlos Gomez's tendency to chase balls, gum wrappers, birds and low flying planes, Sabathia got the center fielder to swing at high 95 MPH heat and a slider at the shoe tops:

Gomez's Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Finally, Corey Hart fanned on an outside changeup and a slider just out of the lower portion of the zone:

Hart's Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Sabathia will soon turn 31, but he's showing no signs of slowing down. Imagine where the Yankees' rotation, a middling seventh in the American League in Fielding Independent Pitching, would be without the big workhorse.

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