So Brad was right on the money with regards to CC Sabathia's failings at the bottom of the lineup, as he mentioned earlier today. CC is absolutely getting OWNED by the bottom of the opposing lineups this year (SSS warnings and all that jazz). But what Brad didn't really mention is that, for the most part, you can chalk a lot of it up to some really bad luck. Batters 7-9 are posting an unsustainably high BAPiP of 0.429 this year. Compare that to the 0.313 and 0.314 posted by batters 1-2, and 3-6, respectively. Hell, just look at the SEVENTH hitters have done to CC: 0.800 BAPiP. That's ridiculous and completely a SSS gremlin. It means that CC has turned the seven hitter into a 1.526 OPS behemoth. Any idea what player that would profile if that OPS held over the course of the year? How about no one EVER. The best OPS over a season was Barry Bonds' 2004 wrecking ball when he racked up 1.4217. Yet, CC has managed to turn the seventh hitter into something better.
Let's look at his OPS against, by lineup position, for the last three years and his career averages below, noting full well that 2015 and 2014 are both SSS pitfalls:
As you can see, the middle of the order has done in CC this year (the 5/6/7 hitters, oh my), and conversely, he's been particularly effective against the top of the order. Last year, he got chewed up by the first and fourth batters, as well as the eigth. Too few games for CC last year as well (SSS!). So sliding down to 2013, his last fully completed year, there are no obvious outliers by batting order. The SSS gremlins have been summarily beaten down. Even looking over the course of his entire career, he's best handled the 7-9 batters, as you'd expect, with the middle of the order giving him the hardest time. Again, no surprises here. It's a case of some bad luck at the bottom of the order this year. I'm no statistician but I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that the seventh hitters will not wind up by year's end as a comp to '04 Bonds.
Looking at a similar chart, but for Batting Average (a bad evaluation stat, but fine for illustrative purposes), you'll see the same thing:
Could we and should we expect seventh hitters to bat 0.563? No. Not even in your work softball league. But look how that seventh hitter fared last year: 0.095. Unrealistic. Small sample sizes creates odd outliers and variances. CC has been particularly effective for the first half of the batting order this year; but the 5/6/7 hitters have destroyed him.
Lastly, let's take that same chart again and run it for BABiP:
The intent of this post is not to say that OVERALL Sabathia has been unlucky. He's been mostly ineffective; it's just that he's been particularly unlucky to be burned as badly as he has by the softer spots in the opponents' lineup.
Is CC better suited as a LOOGY? I'm not sure. But I am quite sure that these early-season outliers in odd lineup positions will not persist all year. If he can fix that anomoly and hold the rest in place, namely throttling the guys at the top of the order, we could hope to see a much better CC.
That's an "if" as tall as Sabathia.