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Barry Zito

San Francisco Giants — No. 75
Starting pitcher
Born: May 13, 1978 (1978-05-13) (age 31)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Bats: Left Throws: Left 
MLB debut
July 22, 2000 for the Oakland Athletics
Career statistics
(through 2009 season)
WinsLosses     133–106
ERA     3.84
Strikeouts     1501
Career highlights and awards

Barry William Zito (born May 13, 1978 in Las Vegas, Nevada) is a left handed starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball. He previously played seven seasons with the Oakland Athletics, where he won the 2002 American League Cy Young Award and made three All-Star teams.[1]

Zito never missed a scheduled start in his career until 2008, and led the American League in starts four times. After the 2006 season, Zito signed the most expensive contract in history for a pitcher at the time.[2] Zito is well known for the drastic difference between his pre- and post- All-Star Game pitching statistics and is considered as one of the greatest second-half pitchers in baseball history.

Zito played collegiately at UC Santa Barbara, Los Angeles Pierce College, and the University of Southern California. In the 1999 draft, he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics with the ninth pick of the first round.[3] Zito is known for his idiosyncrasies, and his offbeat personality. He created the charity Strikeouts for Troops which provides money to hospitals for soldiers wounded in military operations.


High school and college

Zito transferred from San Diego's Coleman High School to University of San Diego High School, a Roman Catholic school where he earned all-league honors with an 8-4 record and 105 strikeouts in 85 innings as a senior.

He then attended UC Santa Barbara where he earned Freshman All-America Honors with 123 strikeouts in 85⅓ innings. Transferring to Los Angeles Pierce College, he posted a 2.62 ERA and went 9-2 with 135 strikeouts in 103 innings, and was named to the all-state and all-conference teams.

He then transferred to USC, where he was a first-team All-America selection by USA Today Baseball Weekly, Collegiate Baseball, and Baseball America. With a 12-3 record, a 3.28 ERA, and 154 strikeouts in 113⅔ innings, Zito was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year.[4]

While in college, Zito also played in the Cape Cod League, a summer wooden bat league which showcases the nation's top amateur prospects. He led the Wareham Gatemen to the league championship in 1997, and a runner-up finish in 1998.[5][6]

Professional career


Major League Baseball Draft

Zito was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 59th round (1,586th overall) of the MLB Draft, and in the third round (83rd overall) by the Texas Rangers in 1998, but did not sign with either team. In the 1999 draft, he was selected by the Oakland Athletics with the ninth pick of the first round, and signed for a $1.59 million bonus.[3][4]

Minor leagues

In 1999, Zito began his professional career in Visalia, Oakland's Class-A team. He went 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 8 starts. He struck out 62 in 40⅓ innings. Zito was promoted to the Midland RockHounds, and went 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA to finish the AA schedule. He then got one start for the AAA Vancouver Canadians, allowing a lone run with 6 strikeouts in 6 innings.

Zito began the 2000 season with the Sacramento River Cats (formerly the Canadians). He pitched 101⅔ innings in 18 starts, going 8-5 with a 3.19 ERA, 91 strikeouts, and 41 walks.[3][4]

Major leagues

Oakland Athletics (2000–06)

Zito made his major league debut on July 22, 2000, against the Anaheim Angels. He allowed one run in five innings, and got the win.[7]

In 2001, Zito finished third in the league in strikeouts per nine innings (8.61), fourth in strikeouts (205), sixth in wins (17), eighth in ERA (3.49), and tenth in winning percentage (.680).[8] Zito became the sixth lefty aged 23 or younger since 1902 to strike out at least 200 batters in a season.

Zito pitching for the A's

In 2002, Zito won the AL Cy Young Award with a 23-5 record, narrowly defeating Pedro Martínez in the voting. He led the league with 23 wins, was second in winning percentage (.821), and third in both ERA (2.75) and strikeouts (182).[8] Martínez, who'd led the AL in ERA (2.26), strikeouts (239), and winning percentage (.833), became the first pitcher since the introduction of the award to lead his league in each of the three categories and not win the award.[9]

In 2003, Zito was seventh in the AL in ERA (3.30). He was tenth in strikeouts in 2004 (163), and fifth in 2005 (171).[8] Zito had a streak of 14 consecutive starts (and 20 out of 21) in which he gave up fewer hits than innings pitched.[10] In 2006 he led the league in batters faced (945) and games started (34). He was third in the league in innings (221), eighth in wins (16), and 10th in ERA (3.83).

He threw 200 or more innings in each of his six full seasons with the A's. Zito never missed a scheduled start and led the American League in starts four times. He was named to the American League All-Star Team in 2002, 2003, and 2006.[8]

Zito replaced his agent Arn Tellem with Scott Boras in July 2006.[11] Zito was a focal point of the 2006 trade deadline, and was widely rumored to be headed to the Mets in a potential deal for prospect Lastings Milledge. A's general manager Billy Beane decided to keep him for the rest of the season.[4] Zito was offered to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Michael Bourn, Ryan Madson, and Chase Utley, but the then-GM of the Phillies Ed Wade said the price was too much and turned it down.

San Francisco Giants (2007–Present)

Zito on August 2, 2008.

Following his seventh season with the A's, Boras negotiated a seven-year deal with the San Francisco Giants worth $126 million, plus $18 million option for 2014 with a $7 million buyout.[12] Zito's contract on December 29, 2006, became the highest for any pitcher in Major League history at the time.[12]

During spring training in 2007, he and Barry Bonds made shirts that read "Don't ask me, ask Barry" with an arrow pointing to the other Barry. By all accounts, Zito and Bonds got along well during their short time as teammates, and Zito made a point of saying he would stand by Bonds through onslaughts from the media.[13]

On May 18, Zito made his return to Oakland as a Giant. He lasted only four innings as he gave up seven runs while walking seven, including two bases loaded walks. The A's beat the Giants, 15-3.[14] He faced his old team again on June 9, this time in San Francisco. Zito pitched four innings while giving up three earned runs on nine hits.[15]

Zito made his first Major League relief appearance on August 5 against the San Diego Padres, due to an early exit by starter Noah Lowry and an overworked bullpen. Zito pitched a scoreless seventh inning.[16] He recorded his first career RBI two days later against the Washington Nationals, in the same game that Barry Bonds hit his record-breaking 756th career home run.[17]

After Zito's start on August 12, his ERA was 5.13.[18] Over his next four starts, he lowered his ERA to 4.46. He admitted that he had put pressure on himself to perform because of the large contract and was learning that he just needed to be himself. Zito also said that it had been difficult for him to adjust to a new league, team, and ballpark.[19] On the final day of the season, in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, Zito allowed two runs on five hits and had four strikeouts in an 11-2 win.

Zito began the 2008 season as the oldest starter and the veteran presence in the Giants' starting rotation.[20] In April, Zito went 0–6 with a 7.53 ERA and 11 strikeouts. He was the third pitcher in the last 52 years to go 0–6 before May 1.[21] On April 28, 2008, the Giants moved him to the bullpen.[22] Zito did not make an appearance out of the bullpen and returned to the rotation on May 7, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In that game, Zito allowed 5 hits and 2 earned runs over 5 innings and took the loss, his 7th of the season. On May 23, 2008, Zito collected his first win of the 2008 season against the Florida Marlins. On June 13, 2008, Zito became the first pitcher to record 10 losses in the Major Leagues following the 5-1 loss to Oakland. His 5.1 walks per 9 innings pitched for the season, 51.5% first-pitch-strike percentage, and 14 sacrifice flies allowed, were all the worst in the majors.[1][2]

The 2009 season seems to have marked a rebound in Zito's pitching performance. Though starting the season 0-2 with an ERA of 10, Zito ended the season with an ERA of 4.03. Though going only 10-13 in the season, Zito's record was much more the fault of his spotty run support (the second-lowest in the major leagues) than his performance on the mound. On June 21, 2009, Zito pitched a no hitter through 6 innings against the Texas Rangers before giving up a hit and then a home run to Andruw Jones in the 7th inning. He won the game, his fourth win of the season.[23] On July 7, 2009, Zito pitched what could be considered his best game of the season. He pitched an 8 1/3rd inning shutout against the Florida Marlins, giving up 4 hits, striking out 6, and walking 1. He won the game, his fifth win of the season.[24]

Pitching style

The velocity of Zito's fastball has hovered between 86-90 mph.[25] He augments it with a very good changeup, and a traditional "12-to-6" curveball that was widely recognized as the best in baseball. Though very slow, his curveball was voted the best in the Major Leagues in a player poll conducted by ESPN The Magazine; Zito's curveball is also his strikeout pitch. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees once stated that he'd never seen anything like Zito's 12-to-6 curve, commenting that the pitch dropped 3-4 feet, and, "You might as well not even look for it because you're not going to hit it".

Since mid-2004, Zito has added a two-seam fastball and a slider to his arsenal; in the 2009 season, his slider became a prominent part of his repertoire, used more frequently than his changeup. Zito's diminished velocity and loss of command are the key reasons for his recent struggles, as he more often got behind in the count and had to rely more on his fastball. Most recently however, his pitching performance has rebounded due to the increased velocity on his fastball and regaining control on his curveball.


Personal life

Zito is known for his idiosyncrasies and his offbeat personality. He has earned the nicknames "Planet Zito" and "Captain Quirk".[26] He once made it a practice to buy his own autographed baseball cards on eBay; when asked why he bought them at auction for high prices rather than acquiring unsigned cards and signing them himself, Zito replied, "Because they're authenticated." Despite batting and throwing left-handed, Zito signs autographs for fans at the ballpark right-handed.

At his introductory press conference with the Giants, Zito said he liked the way his uniform number 75 looked, because the 7 and the 5 are like a "shelf" to hold the name "Zito" up. He carries pink satin pillows on the road, collects stuffed animals (such as a good luck teddy bear, with which he used to travel), and burns incense to relax.[27] Early in his career, Zito dyed his hair blue. He plays guitar, surfs, practices yoga, and follows Zen. He has done yoga poses in the outfield, and meditates before games.[28] In 2001, Zito espoused a universal life force that he credited with his midseason turnaround.[27] His mother Roberta named him after her brother Barry, a beatnik “freethinker” and acolyte of Zen who mysteriously vanished in 1964 at the age of 22 near Big Sur, California.[29]

He created the charity Strikeouts for Troops, to which he donates $400 for every strikeout he throws. The charity benefits hospitals for soldiers wounded in military operations.

His father composed and arranged music for Nat King Cole in the early 1960s (ca.1961-64), and arranged for the Buffalo Symphony.[30] Zito's mother is a classically trained musician who also sang with Nat King Cole's band, in a choral group known as The Merry Young Souls.[31]

His uncle is TV's Patrick Duffy.[32 ]

Guest-starred on the hit TV show JAG, season 9 episode, "The Boast."

He is a big fan of the San Francisco punk band, NOFX. His favorite musician is Ben Folds. He is also a big fan of the Dave Matthews Band.

See also


  1. ^ "Barry Zito Player File". Retrieved 2007-09-15.  
  2. ^ "San Francisco Giants". Cot's Baseball Contracts.  
  3. ^ a b c "Barry Zito Statistics". The Baseball Cube. Retrieved 2007-09-15.  
  4. ^ a b c d "Barry Zito Biography".  
  5. ^ "CCBL Alumni Year Drafted". Cape Cod Baseball.  
  6. ^ "CCBL Champions: Arnold Mycock Award". Cape Cod Baseball.  
  7. ^ "Barry Zito 2000 Pitching Gamelogs". Baseball-Reference.  
  8. ^ a b c d "Barry Zito Statistics". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2007-10-01.  
  9. ^ "Pedro Martinez Statistics". Baseball-Reference.  
  10. ^ "Barry Zito 2005 Pitching Gamelogs". Baseball-Reference.  
  11. ^ Heyman, Jon (2006-07-08). "Zito drops agent Tellem for Boras". Sports Illustrated.  
  12. ^ a b Associated Press (2006-12-30). "Zito passes physical, making $126 million deal official". Retrieved 2009-07-19.  
  13. ^ Zito, Barry (2007-05-24). "Let Barry be Barry". ESPN The Magazine.  
  14. ^ Haft, Chris (2007-05-19). "Zito battered in return to Oakland".  
  15. ^ Eymer, Rick (2007-06-09). "Giants shut out by Athletics".  
  16. ^ Haft, Chris (2007-08-05). "Lowry hurt, Zito has relief outing in loss". Retrieved 2007-09-04.  
  17. ^ Haft, Chris (2007-08-08). "Bonds' 756th comes in loss to Nats".  
  18. ^ "Barry Zito 2007 Pitching Gamelogs". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2007-09-03.  
  19. ^ Shea, John (2007-09-03). "By being himself, Zito is again Zito". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-09-03.  
  20. ^ Burden's on Giants' youthful starters Rotation appears to be strength of otherwise weak team
  21. ^ Shea, John (2008-04-27). "Zito Zapped Again". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  
  22. ^ Haft, Chris (2008-04-28). "Zito to work things out in bullpen". Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  23. ^ Fantasy Baseball News
  24. ^ Fantasy Baseball News
  25. ^ Crasnick, Jerry (2007-03-26). "Baseball's obsession with the fastball".  
  26. ^ Weiner, Richard (2002-10-03). "Pitching the Zen of Zito". USA Today.  
  27. ^ a b "10 Burning Questions for... Barry Zito".  
  28. ^ Price, Jay (2006-12-06). "For Zito, it's dollars vs. sense". Staten Island Advance.  
  29. ^ Horowitz, Mitch (September 2003). "Barry's Way". Retrieved 2007-09-03.  
  30. ^ Moriarity, W.C. "Slingin' it with Barry Zito". ChinMusic!.  
  31. ^ Bolda, Velia (2002-11-25). "Ben Folds' stop in Milwaukee engages audience".  
  32. ^ Arizona Diamondbacks broadcast of September 19, 2007 game againstSan Francisco Giants. KTVK 3TV.

External links

Preceded by
Mark Mulder
Mark Buehrle
American League Pitcher of the Month
August 2001-September 2001
July 2005
Succeeded by
Derek Lowe
Bartolo Colón
Preceded by
Mark Mulder
American League Wins Champion
Succeeded by
Roy Halladay
Preceded by
Roger Clemens
American League Cy Young Award
Succeeded by
Roy Halladay


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