When he first came into the league as a 20-year-old, starting in the back of the rotation for the Cleveland Indians, many people said that CC Sabathia needed to lose weight if he wanted to be successful in the major leagues. He tried that.
A few years later, when he didn't get the calls that he felt should go his way, and threw immature tantrums on the mound, many other people said that Sabathia needed to mature as an individual before he could succeed in the major leagues. He did that.
A couple years later, after his Cy Young campaign failed to pay dividends in the postseason, and as his team held a 3-1 edge over the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, he gave his team another poor outing.
His lackluster performance allowed Boston to come back from that deficit to send Cleveland home. Many writers said he wasn't ready for the big stage, and that Sabathia had yet to become a big game winner.
They said he had to become the big game starter to truly be called an ace. He proved he could do that last year, as Sabathia led the Yankees to his first World Series victory.
Not only has CC done everything that many people said he needed to do, he has since become one of the game's true gentlemen. He's also learned how to pitch effectively, rather than trying to throw fire past hitters.
These quality attributes, as well as playing for a really good New York Yankees team, leave me to believe that CC will be the league's next 300 game winner. Many of you will argue the point, but let me clarify a bit.
Jamie Moyer currently holds the most wins for active pitchers with 267. At age 47, I don't think he's going to pitch until he is 50 and get to 300.
Next is Andy Pettite who, at age 38, holds a very respectable 239 wins. 61 more victories is not unthinkable for the lefty, he would just have to pitch until he is 43 years old. That scenario is quite possible, if his arm hangs on like Mr. Moyers' has.
Of the 20 winningest active pitchers, CC Sabathia is the youngest, entering this season at 29. He has more career wins (146) than Chris Carpenter (126) and Johan Santana (127). He is 11 shy of Roy Halladay's 157 wins, although Halladay is four years his senior.
In 2007, NBC Sports ran an article detailing who they believed would be the next hopefuls to win 300 games. Roy Oswalt top that list at the time with 108 wins, while Mark Buehrle was second with 105 wins. It's interesting to note that CC was third on that list at the time with 94 wins. He is currently ahead of both Buerhle and Oswalt.
So, let's look a little bit closer. If CC were to reach 300 wins, he would have to average 15 wins per season for the next 10 years. That would put him in a list with Grover Cleveland Alexander, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Eddie Plank, and Cy Young to reach the feat before the age of 40.
CC's average over his 9.5 year career is 16-9, which leaves a striking similarity between he and the great Gregg Maddux. Maddux started his career when he was 20 as well, although not with 17 victories like CC did, and averaged 16 wins and 10 losses over his 23 year career.
Maddux won 20 games twice, in back to back seasons, and won 19 games five times. CC has yet to win 20 games and has won 19 games only twice. However, playing on the New York Yankees for the next several years, and possibly to the end of his career, I believe it is only a matter of time before he wins 20 games. That might come this year, as Sabathia has 10 at the halfway mark.
Another added piece of info is that if CC were to complete this feat, which I believe he will, he will be the first African-American pitcher to do so. Fergie Jenkins, African-Canadian, had 284, while Bob Gibson had 251.
CC has the opportunity to go down in history as the greatest African-American ace to play Major League Baseball (although many will still consider Bob Gibson the greatest).
Seeing as how MLB didn't get to witness the dominance of Satchel Paige, Slim Jones, and Max Manning of the Negro Leagues, I'd have to say that would be pretty special for CC and the history of black baseball.
He hasn't lost the weight. He has matured beyond his years. He's learned to pitch beautifully and he is well on his way to the Hall of Fame. Many people said he couldn't do it. They said he didn't have the mental fortitude. But there he is, ace of the greatest franchise in baseball history.
Go ahead CC, here's to 300 (hopefully).