Take a nice long look at this picture. This is CC Sabathia in 2008 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, when he threw a 1.65 ERA. This was the lowest tally of his career and he weighed in at roughly 300 lbs.
Now look at this picture of Sabathia in 2010 as a member of the New York Yankees. He threw a 3.18 ERA which is the second best ERA of his career behind 2008, and he also threw a career best 21 wins. His weight in 2010 toppled the scales at 317 lbs.
This is CC Sabathia in 2014. He has dropped down to 275 lbs and is barely recognizable but he’s looking great. There’s only one problem with this sudden weight loss…his performance on the mound has gone down drastically.
CC Sabathia came into the major leagues and was a relatively small player, given that he was 6’7″. After his rookie season he started putting on all the weight that fans from across the country came to know and love. As the years went by, Sabathia became a force to be reckoned with in Cleveland and in 2007 he won the AL Cy Young Award. Amongst all his awards and accolades he has accumulated, he proved to be a crucial component to a championship roster. In 2008, he was traded mid-season to the Milwaukee Brewers, had his career low 1.65 ERA, and gave the much needed push to put the Brewers in the playoffs for the first time since 1982. Naturally, players as good as Sabathia will be targeted by the best teams, and the Yankees snagged him after the 2008 season.
With the Yankees, Sabathia continued to be one of the most prolific pitchers in the league, as well as putting on more weight than ever before. Sabathia is famously known for eating two boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereal in one sitting. When he threw the most wins of his career, 21, in 2010, he weighed 317 lbs. In 2011 he tore his meniscus in his right knee which required surgery. This led to his first loss of weight. He lost about 30 pounds after his surgery to prevent any future problems with his knee, because no surgically repaired knee can uphold a 6’7″, 317 lbs frame. This initial loss of weight only dropped his ERA from 3.00 to 3.38 in 2012. But in 2013, Sabathia’s ERA was a whopping 4.78 and he was being hammered game after game. In 2014 he dropped down to a staggering 275 lbs with an ERA of 5.28 so far this season. He no longer is able to put 317 lbs behind every fastball he throws. In 2008, CC Sabathia’s average Fourseam Fastball scorched the catcher’s glove at 96.14 mph. In 2014, his average fastball speed has plummeted to 91.38 mph. This huge drop in pitch speed coincides exactly with his ERA change from 1.65 in 2008 to 5.28 in 2014.
With the surgery on his right knee and wanting to look better in general, no one can fault CC for wanting to shed a few pounds. Sure, there’s always the crazy Yankees fan who wants Sabathia to put back on 40 lbs so he can throw at 96 mph again, but Sabathia needs to think about his future. CC can either think short term and try to perform at his best for the Yankees and any other team he plays for, or he can think about his long term health and of his family. Many fans when looking at reasons for why players might be slumping forget that these players are people too. Obviously CC Sabathia wishes he can be slim and pitch great, but clearly he has to pick one or the other and he chose the smartest option: slimming down and thinking of life past baseball. But whether he is 317 lbs or a muscular 275 lbs, good call on cutting out the two boxes of Cap’n Crunch in one meal CC, that was a bit much don’t you think?