Who's on first? Not Sabathia

Sabathia vs TB 2014 I fully understand that CC Sabathia gets paid to pitch. And him having a bounce-back season or even a somewhat decent full season is what is important for the Yankees in their quest for a playoff spot. I get all that. I also fully appreciate what Brad wrote yesterday about the big man's weight. He was a great pitcher as a big guy and can be a good pitcher as a big guy. The one irritant for me during Sabathia's tenure with the Yankees is that he pitches with only eight fielders because he is not one of them.

During Sabthia's abbreviated season in 2014, the Yankees' pitcher recorded only one putout. That would be an unfair statement if 2014 wasn't the fifth time in his career that he recorded only one putout for a season. He has a string of three of those seasons in a row. Sabathia does not cover first base very well.

The only putout Sabathia recorded in 2014 was on a Robinson Cano dribbler to first. And since Cano does not run out ground balls, that makes sense. The only putout Sabathia recorded in 2013 was Mark Trumbo, a guy not exactly faster than a speeding bullet.

Okay, I admit I am obsessing about this a bit. But it irks me. CC Sabathia has always been described as athletic for a big man. Seriously? Then how do you explain that he has compiled only 41 putouts in his fourteen year career? He never had more than seven in a season and he has done that twice.

Logically, you can make a case that Sabathia throws left-handed and would fall off toward third base. Plus, you could argue that not too many lefty batters were going to pull him. If all of those were true, then Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw and perhaps even Sandy Koufax could say the same thing. What do their putouts look like?

  • Madison Bumgarner - Five seasons with 32  total putouts.
  • Clayton Kershaw - Seven seasons with 47 total putouts
  • Sandy Koufax - Twelve seasons with 64 total putouts.
  • David Price - Seven seasons with 43 total putouts.
  • Jon Lester - Nine seasons with 80 total putouts
  • Cole Hamels - Nine seasons with 74 total putouts.

So that gives you a pretty good idea of how futile it is to think that Sabathia is going to get to first if you are a first baseman.

Another stat that is amusing is Sabathia's range factor. As bad as we all picked on Derek Jeter's range, at least his range was three-quarters what the league average was during his final few years. Sabathia's range factor per game is half the league average. His range factor per nine is 68% of league average. Those are career numbers and not just his past few years with bad knees.

If you use Fangraphs.com's leaderboard, CC Sabathia is the eleventh worst fielding pitcher since 2009 and the tenth worst since 2007. So at least there are ten fielders worse than him.

Again, in the grand scheme of things, this is probably a minor point as it might cost a couple of runs a season at worst. The Yankees need him to pitch and to pitch fairly well. Just call me old school. I guess. I want players to do well in all areas that they can. And perhaps CC Sabathia could be just a little bit better if he had nine fielders on the field instead of eight.