Archive for July 11th, 2011

(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

Since baseball unveiled its 68 All Stars last Sunday, the combined roster for both squads has swelled to 84 players. In addition to the 14 original selections who either backed out or were disqualified from the competition, two replacements were also forced to withdraw. As a result, more attention has been paid to who isn’t attending this year’s All Star Game than those actually making the trip to Arizona. Maybe, next year, major league baseball should simply replace the voting process with a game of musical chairs?

The Replacements: 2011 All Star Roster Evolution

American League    
Original Selections Reason for Withdrawal Replacement
3B: Alex Rodriguez* DL 3B: Kevin Youkilis
SS: Derek Jeter* Rest SS: Jhonny Peralta
SP: Felix Hernandez Pitched Sunday SP: Jon Lester
SP: Jon Lester DL SP: Ricky Romero
SP: David Price Rest RP: David Robertson
SP: James Shields Pitched Sunday SP: C.C. Sabathia
SP: C.C. Sabathia Pitched Sunday SP: Alexei Ogando
SP: Justin Verlander Pitched Sunday RP: Micheal Pineda
RP: Mariano Rivera Rest RP: Jordan Walden
National League    
Original Selections Reason for Withdrawal Replacement
SS: Jose Reyes* DL 3B: Pablo Sandoval
3B: Placido Polanco* Missed last 6 games C: Miguel Montero
OF: Ryan Braun* Missed last 10 games OF: Andrew McCutchen
3B: Chipper Jones DL 3B: Scott Rolen
OF: Shane Victorino DL OF: Andre Ethier
SP: Matt Cain Pitched Sunday RP: Craig Kimbrel
SP: Cole Hamels Pitched Sunday SP: Kevin Correia

*Elected as starters.
Source: MLB.com

In all fairness to the players who declined to participate, six were disqualified by rule, five are currently on the disabled list, and two others have missed at least the previous six games leading up to the break. Only Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and David Price declined the invitation despite being able to play during the final weekend of the first half. So, in reality, baseball isn’t experiencing an epidemic flight from All Star participation, but rather a confluence of events that has led to unprecedented turnover. Nonetheless, baseball could, and should, do more to encourage participation.


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At 6’7” and 300 pounds, it’s hard to imagine C.C. Sabathia being overlooked, but that’s exactly what has seemed to happen this season. Despite compiling such an impressive first half, the big lefty has not only failed to garner early Cy Young support, but he was even initially left off the All Star team. However, after yesterday’s 1-0 shutout of the Rays, it might finally be time for everyone to take notice.

Entering the All Star break, Sabathia leads American League pitchers with an fWAR of 4.8, which also ranks second in all of baseball behind only Roy Halladay. His 13 wins are also tops in the majors, while only Justin Verlander has thrown more innings. If the Yankees’ ace maintains the same performance over the second half, he’ll not only put forth the best season of his career, but also one of the most dominant in franchise history.

Top-10 ERA+ Seasons by a Yankees’ Pitcher, Since 1919

Player Year Age IP W L ERA ERA+
Ron Guidry 1978 27 273.2 25 3 1.74 208
Spud Chandler 1943 35 253 20 4 1.64 198
Lefty Gomez 1937 28 278.1 21 11 2.33 193
Whitey Ford 1958 29 219.1 14 7 2.01 177
Lefty Gomez 1934 25 281.2 26 5 2.33 176
Wilcy Moore 1927 30 213 19 7 2.28 171
Whitey Ford 1964 35 244.2 17 6 2.13 170
Spud Chandler 1946 38 257.1 20 8 2.10 164
Allie Reynolds 1952 35 244.1 20 8 2.06 162
Russ Ford 1910 27 299.2 26 6 1.65 160

Note: Includes all pitchers with at least 200 innings.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

If history is any indicator, Sabathia’s best in 2011 might still be yet to come. Over the course of his career, the Yankees’ ace has developed a reputation for being a better second half pitcher: his ERA has been 3.67 before the All Star Game and 3.31 thereafter. In five of the last six seasons, the same trend has also held true. What’s more, based on his recent performance, Sabathia might just be hitting his stride. With Sunday’s complete game shutout, the left hander ended the half with six consecutive victories and a scoreless streak of 24 innings. By just about any measure, he is pitching as well as at any point in his career.

Sabathia’s First and Second Half ERA Splits

Source: Baseball-reference.com

The only drawback to Sabathia’s career year is it increases the likelihood that he’ll exercise the opt-out clause in his current seven-year contract. According to fangraphs.com, the left hander has already provided cumulative value in excess of his $23 million annual salary over the first three years, so it stands to reason that he’ll at least be able to earn an extension at the same yearly rate. If that scenario comes to pass, the Yankees shouldn’t think twice about giving it to him. And, Yankees’ fans shouldn’t fret about the expense. After all, about the only thing the organization can’t afford is being without C.C. Sabathia.

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