CLEVELAND — At this point, it appears to be a matter of not "if," but "when" CC Sabathia will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
And when he is, Cleveland Guardians owner Paul Dolan is hopeful that Sabathia's plaque will include a Cleveland Indians hat.
"CC was obviously a big part of our organization," Dolan told 3News' Dave DeNatale ahead of Wednesday's Greater Cleveland Sports Awards, where Sabathia was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. "I still hope that when he goes into the Hall of Fame, he goes in as an Indian, because that's what he would be."
As for the likelihood of that actually happening, it's murky at best.
While Sabathia's Hall of Fame monitor score of 128 on Baseball-Reference makes it appear likely that the left-hander will be enshrined in Cooperstown one day, the case for him being inducted as a member of the Indians isn't as strong. During his 19-year Major League career, Sabathia spent 7.5 seasons in Cleveland, with the final 11 years of his career coming as a member of the New York Yankees.
Although his lone American League Cy Young Award campaign came as a member of the Indians in 2007, the Vallejo, California, native posted three of his four highest single-season win totals in New York. Sabathia also accumulated more strikeouts, a lower ERA and a higher total Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in New York, where he also won the lone World Series title of his career in 2009.
But while it seems more likely that Sabathia -- who will first be eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot in 2025 -- will don a Yankees cap than an Indians one on his Hall of Fame plaque, there's no doubting that Cleveland is very much a part of the six-time All-Star's story. That much was clear on Wednesday night, as Sabathia was honored in the city where he first established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball history.
"I'm really just pleased for him," Dolan said. "The success he's had in his career and maybe even more importantly, the success he's having post-career. The impact he's having on kids across the country, starting here in Cleveland, is fabulous. So it's really wonderful to be able to honor him here in Cleveland and recognize all that he's achieved."