The Sabathia “Turnaround”

Everyone knew this would be an important season for Cy Young Award incumbent C.C. Sabathia. Pitching in the final of his contract, with the type of money Johan Santana proved pitchers could receive, all Sabathia really needed to do was pitch like some semblance of what we have come to expect from the huge Indians lefty. After his first four starts panic began to surface across some of the blogosphere due to the following numbers:

4 GS, 0-3, 18 IP, 32 H, 27 ER, 14 BB, 14 K
13.50 ERA, 2.56 WHIP, 1.00 K/BB

Those are not numbers indicative of a potential 150 million dollar man. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending how you look at it, Sabathia has been terribly unlucky for most of the season, not just due to his FIP coming in so much lower than his ERA or a very high BABIP, but because his overall numbers are tainted for the most part by just 2 of his 14 starts.

4/11: 3.1 IP, 12 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
4/16: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 5 BB, 1 K

Take away those two starts and here Sabathia’s numbers:

14 GS: 91.1 IP, 95 H, 28 BB, 87 K, 4.34 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
12 GS: 84.0 IP, 75 H, 21 BB, 82 K, 2.79 ERA, 1.14 WHIP

Believe me yet when I say those two starts, just 14% of his season, severely affected the rest? Remove them and Sabathia starts to look like teammate Cliff Lee or even current saber-darling Edinson Volquez. While I am normally not a fan of removing information to make someone look better it is hard to look past those two starts, which seem way, way behind him, hindering his overall numbers from reflecting his true performance level.

In fact, lately, Carston Charles has been even better, as from 5/9 to 6/10 he has a 1.77 WPA, thanks in large part to these numbers:

5/9-6/10: 7 GS, 53 IP, 45 H, 10 BB, 50 K, 2.04 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

Fangraphs recently added a feature on the leaderboards allowing us to look at performance over the last 7, 14, and 30 days; in the last 30, just Scott Kazmir has been a more productive starting pitcher than Sabathia. His overall numbers may look worse than in recent years but do not let them fool you: Over the last month, and essentially ever since April 16, Sabathia has largely (very largely in his case) been himself.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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