On February 16, 2019, Yankees pitcher Sabathia announced that his 19-year MLB career will conclude following the current season.
A six-time All-Star, a three-time Warren Spahn Award winner, and one of just three left-handed starters in the 3000-strikeout club, Yankees LHP CC Sabathia has been widely hailed as one of the best starters of his generation and one of the greatest left-handed pitchers the game has ever seen. At the end of the 2024 season, Sabathia will have the opportunity to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. As his career draws to a close, I thought this might be a great time to look through the microscope at what Sabathia has accomplished in our beloved game and whether or not I believe he’s earned a place among the 2025 Cooperstown inductees.
Between 2001 and 2019, 453 starting pitchers reached qualifying status. If we go with the general “rule of thumb” that dictates Hall-of-Famers should be within the top 1.5% of all ballplayers, we can say that CC Sabathia should be firmly entrenched in the top six among starters for the span in which he played.
Now, if you’re looking at pure control dominance, Sabathia doesn’t look much like a Hall-of-Fame pitcher. His 7.74 K/9 ranks an unimpressive 125th out of 453 and his BB/9 of 2.76 is even lower at 177th. His 3.77 xFIP (77th among the qualifiers) tells a stronger, but still less-than-elite story.
Many of the “new wave” advanced metrics don’t favor pitchers like Yankees LHP CC Sabathia. Can the argument still be made, without the now-in-disrepute statistic of pitcher wins, that he deserves enshrinement?