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C.C’s Last Go Around
As the 1st place New York Yankees get ready to visit the 1st place Minnesota Twins, I don’t have high expectations for the 19-year old veteran C.C. Sabathia in this one game. Away from Yankee Stadium, Sabathia has been below average this season, with a 1-3 record and a 5.84 ERA. Perhaps more telling is that his strikeout rate drops 21% when on the road. Odds referenced from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Still I look forward to seeing him pitch today. The Power-Forward sized Lefty has always made for a good watch. He goes right after the hitter – wasting little time and few pitches.
Prior to the season, C.C. announced that this will be his last year. He would love to go out as a World Series champion for the second time, exactly 10 years after he won his first championship in New York. On this occasion of an ordinary July afternoon game, I sit back and consider whether or not Sabathia is a Hall of Famer.
Against him is that he only made the All Star team 5 times in 19 years. He only won 1 CY Young award, back in 2007, and with statistics that often don’t merit Best-Pitcher-in-Baseball consideration.
However when looking at the length breadth of his career, it feels like his durability and consistency should get him over the hump into Cooperstown. There are very few like him. Sabathia has started 27 or more games in 16 of his 19 seasons. In only two of those seasons did he have an ERA north of 4.5. Meanwhile he averaged 15.3 wins in those seasons.
10 years ago I looked forward to seeing Sabathia perhaps becoming the last pitcher to reach 300 personal victories. Now at 251, with only half a season remaining it’s doubtful that he will get to that number. It’s doubtful, in fact, that we’ll ever see a pitcher reach 300 wins again – the way relievers are relied upon in the modern game. However, I for one will celebrate the climb of this warrior regardless of whether or not he will ever mount that summit.
If you asked him, the progress he has made fighting his own personal demons, which he wrote about for the Players Tribune in “My Toughest Out“, eclipses anything he could achieve on the baseball diamond.
Now 2+ years removed from his public admission of his challenge with alcoholism, it’s inspirational to see the wily veteran still throwing hard and racking up wins. Throwing 92 down and away, if not 97 and high. Chasing another World Series ring, if not the allusive 300 club. Right now he may seem to be an average pitcher. But as October rolls around, I wouldn’t bet against the Champion.
Win One for C.C.
Back in 2013, the Red Sox seemed to rally around the last great year of David Ortiz. CC Sabathia today is not at the level Ortiz was then. He’s not Jordan in 98 or Elway in 99 – the best game aiming to go out on top. Sabathia is more like Gary Payton 2006 – not the premier player he used to be, but a serviceable veteran – that’s knowledgeable about what it takes and desperate to go out as a champion.
At the beginning of June the Yankees were 6/1 to win the World Series and 3/1 to the Win AL. Those odds have gotten steadily shorter as the Yankees continue to dominate the AL East. Today the Yankees are 7/2 to win it all, and 7/4 to hoist the AL pennant.
Given that the Yankees still have the capital and incentive to add one big named pitcher, I think the odds for them to Win the AL are a good bet right now. The minute they sign an arm like Max Scherzer they will be at least an even money proposition to make the World Series. By betting the AL and not the World Series future, we avoid having to put our money against the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers, whose bevy of stellar arms could easily silence the Bronx batters.
MVP Consideration for LeMahieu
Another bet to consider is DJ LeMahieu for MVP. The Yankees previously anonymous second baseman, has combined solid production at the plate (.333 BA, .893 OPS) with Gold Glove caliber defense in the infield. He is now +500 to win the AL MVP, second only to Mike Trout (-300).
Although Mike Trout is ahead of him in almost all statistical categories, taking a flier on LeMahieu to win MVP makes sense. Trout, who recently missed time with a calf injury, is a good candidate to be shelved if the Angels fall out of the Wild Card race. They are 5.5 games back now.
Last year Christian Yellich went from solid player to superstar and eventual MVP. LeMahieu could be on the same trajectory. Two examples of why “The Field Bet” in MVP futures pools is often the best bet. Baseball is the most technically difficult sport. Many times it takes into their late 20’s for baseball players to perfect their craft and make that leap.