New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia confirmed his retirement on Twitter Monday morning, just days after suffering a dislocated shoulder during the American League Championship Series. "I'm going to miss going out there on the mound and competing," Sabathia wrote, "but it's time to say farewell." Here's the post in its entirety:
"It all started in Vallejo, CA in my grandma's backyard throwing grapefruits at a folding chair. I could have never imagined how much this game has meant to me since. Through the ups and downs, baseball has always been my home. From Cleveland, to Milwaukee, New York, and everywhere in between, I'm so thankful to have experienced this journey with every teammate past and present. All I ever wanted was to be a great teammate and win. I'm so proud of this year's team, we fought til the end. Love you guys! I'm going to miss going out there on the mound and competing, but it's time to say farewell. Thank you, Baseball."
Sabathia, 39, pitched in the majors for parts of 19 seasons and with three teams: Cleveland, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the New York Yankees, with whom he spent more time than anywhere else. During that time, he appeared in 561 games, threw 3,577 ⅓ innings, and posted a 3.74 ERA (116 ERA+) and 2.81 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 63 Wins Above Replacement put him just below the threshold for Hall of Fame pitchers (73), but the difference in eras is likely to work in his favor.
Here's where Sabathia ranks in various categories since the last round of expansion in 1998 (min. 1,000 innings):
- GS: 1st (560)
- IP: 1st (3,577 1/3)
- CG: 5th (38)
- ERA+: 38th (116)
- SO/BB: 61st (2.81)
- WAR: 7th (62.5)
Additionally, Sabathia is a six-time All Star, a one-time Cy Young Award winner, an ALCS MVP, and a World Series champion -- with 130 postseason innings and a positive Win Probability Added in those innings -- whose legacy is much larger than statistics alone. He's also someone who enjoyed a career resurgence after a battle with substance abuse.
In recent years, Sabathia had battled knee pain (and had underwent multiple operations) just to get on the mound. "It's always the same. If I had to scale it on a scale of one to 10, it's always an eight and when it's bad it's 10," he said in August. Indeed, over the past three seasons he made eight trips to the injury list -- five of them concerned his right knee.
Perhaps the most memorable stretch in Sabathia's career came during the 2008 season, when he was traded to Milwaukee. He made 17 starts for the Brewers, compiling a 1.65 ERA and averaging more than 7.6 innings per outing. Sabathia threw seven complete games, three of them shutouts, and pitched into the ninth on another occasion. Despite his limited time in the NL, he still finished fifth in Cy Young Award voting and sixth in Most Valuable Player Award voting. His acquisition is one of the best in the recent history of the trade deadline.
Sabathia was the youngest player in the AL when he debuted, and he goes out one of the oldest players in baseball. That's fitting, as he was always built to last.