I'm a C.C. rider
Tribe's Sabathia would make a worthy All-Star starter
Posted: Wednesday June 13, 2007 12:44PM; Updated: Wednesday June 13, 2007 12:44PM
I'm here today to make a pitch, as it were, for C.C. Sabathia as the starting pitcher for the American League in this year's All-Star Game.
This, for those of you who haven't delved deeply into the pros and cons of All-Star selections quite yet -- or haven't bothered delving at all -- is not an easy pitch to make. In fact, for those who have started to crunch the numbers and do the comparing and contrasting, this borders on a "get the heck outta here" argument.
First off, the All-Star Game is still almost a month away. It's almost ridiculously early to even think about picking a starter. A lot can happen in a month. A lot bad can happen in a month. Sabathia, the Indians' left-handed ace, could slip in the shower tomorrow and sprain something important.
Of course, if he did, I'd worry a lot more about the shower than I would about Sabathia. C.C.'s a big guy, you know.
And then there's the serious matter of the competition for the starting spot. Oakland's Dan Haren has been fantastic and then some, a winning pitcher for a team that barely can hit. His numbers, other than his strikeout numbers, are unassailable. Better, for the most part, than Sabathia's.
A couple of other Oakland pitchers, Joe Blanton and Chad Gaudin, are off to great starts, too. Boston's Josh Beckett has been lights out. He hasn't lost a game yet, and neither has Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman. Neither has James Shields, for that matter, and he pitches for Tampa Bay. Undefeated for the Devil Rays. Think about what that takes. And maybe you've heard this news: Detroit's Justin Verlander no-hit the Brewers on Tuesday night. He's probably worth a vote or two.
You could make an argument for John Lackey with the Angels, and maybe even Fausto Carmona, Sabathia's teammate with the Indians. Boston's Curt Schilling threw a near no-hitter last week. They're all good choices, and if they don't hurt themselves pitching or attending to any personal hygiene responsibilities in the next few weeks, any one of them could find his way onto the AL squad when the All-Star Game is played in San Francisco next month.
But for a starter, let's turn to Sabathia, who, by the way, is more valuable to his team than any of those guys are to theirs. Right now, no matter who you throw into this discussion, Sabathia has to be near the top of the list -- or at the top, in my way of thinking -- for a few reasons.
For those who care about old-school stats, he's 9-1 with a 3.09 ERA.
Ten of his 14 starts have been quality starts, one of the best percentages in the league. Haren has made 13 quality starts in 14 tries, but Sabathia has left a game with his team trailing only once, which is something even Haren can't claim. (Admittedly more of a statement about Oakland's offense, but still worth noting.)
C.C. -- it stands for Carsten Charles -- ranks among the league's Top 10 in strikeouts per nine, strikeout-to-walk ratio, opponent's batting average, opponent's on-base percentage ... you get the idea. He's also up there in a bunch of esoteric stats that take into account the defense behind him (Cleveland's isn't very good), the park he plays in (Jacobs Field is a good hitters' stadium) and those sorts of things.
Among left-handers he's probably the best in the league this year, though you might get an argument from the Johan Santana and Erik Bedard factions. He's at least keeping hitters from hurting him as much as Santana and Bedard are (based on OPS against), and his ERA is better.
And then there's this, maybe most important of all: Almost no pitcher in the AL has been as good as Sabathia in the past year. Some people like to include the second half of the previous season, not just the first half of the current one, when picking All-Stars. In his past 25 starts, going back to the All-Star break in '06, Sabathia has a 3.03 ERA. Only one AL pitcher has a better ERA in that span. That's Minnesota's Santana, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, at 2.99 since last year's break. Yet Santana, as good as many of his peripheral numbers are, is only a .500 pitcher at this point this season.
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