Known early in his career for racking up massive strikeout totals, CC Sabathia has evolved into a different style of pitcher over the past five seasons. With injuries and age taking away the power fastball that once made him so dominant, Sabathia has evolved into a craftier hurler who instead pitches to contact.
Despite the drastic change in style and dropoff in strikeouts over the past few seasons, Sabathia still finds himself among baseball’s all-time greats when it comes to his career total.
CC Sabathia Career Strikeouts: Yankees Star Among Elite Company
For his career, CC Sabathia has 3,057 strikeouts good for 17th All-Time and is the leader among active players. He only sits 27 strikeouts behind John Smoltz for 16th while Curt Schilling and Bob Gibson sit in striking range at 3,116 and 3,117 respectively. Only two players who have struck out more men, Schilling & Roger Clemens, are not Hall of Famers – mainly due to steroid allegations.
Sabathia’s entrance into the 3,000 strikeout club nearly guarantees him a spot in the Hall of Fame alone. When you factor in his 250+ wins, he enters the conversation as a possible first-ballot player. While it will likely take voters a year or two on the ballot in order to let Sabathia in (because of politics and grumpy old voters), he should undoubtedly find himself in Cooperstown when his career is all said and done.
Interestingly, Sabathia has never led the major leagues in strikeouts and only eclipsed 200 strikeouts in three seasons – though he had 197 in three other seasons. Instead, Sabathia has steadily climbed his way up the ranks on the back of nearly two decades of sustained success as one of the MLB’s premier pitchers.
CC Sabathia Yankees Highlights
Since making his debut in pinstripes in 2009, Sabathia has played a major role in a number of high leverage situations. In his first season, Sabathia served as the ace of the staff and posted sub 2.00 ERAs in both the ALDS and ALCS – taking home ALCS MVP honors for his performance.
Known for his excellent performance in “win or go home” games, Sabathia put forward perhaps his best individual postseason performance in 2012 against the Baltimore Orioles during game 5 of the ALDS. Throwing a complete game, one-run masterpiece, Sabathia battled out of a number of difficult situations and came up with huge pitches when the Yankees needed him most to send them forward to the ALCS.
More recently, Sabathia stepped up as the old man in the rotation during the Yankees’ surprising 2017 ALCS run. After the Yankees battled back from a near sweep against Sabathia’s old team, the Cleveland Indians, Sabathia took the mound for yet another “win or go home” game 5. While he only threw 4.1 innings, Sabathia struck out nine hitters and gave the Yankees a gutsy performance, handing the ball over to an elite bullpen with a 3-2 lead in a game the Yankees would eventually clinch. While far from his best statistical performance, his grit and toughness defined a Yankees team that defied expectations as they took the eventual champion Astros to the brink of elimination.