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 game rosters. 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. In Zito's first season with the Giants, he set a career high in earned run average and he recorded his lowest number of strikeouts and winning percentage in any full major league season in his career.
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. 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 Grossmont High School to University of San Diego High School, a 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.
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.
Major League Baseball Draft
Zito was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 59th round (1,586th overall) of the 1996 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.
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.
Oakland Athletics (2000–06)
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). Zito became the sixth lefty aged 23 or younger since 1902 to strike out at least 200 batters in a season.
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). 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.
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). Zito had a streak of 14 consecutive starts (and 20 out of 21) in which he gave up fewer hits than innings pitched. 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.
Zito replaced his agent Arn Tellem with Scott Boras in July 2006. 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.
San Francisco Giants (2007–)
Following his seventh season with the A's, Scott Boras negotiated a seven-year deal with the San Francisco Giants worth $126 million, plus an option for an eighth season at $18 million. Zito's contract became the highest for any pitcher in Major League history at the time.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
After Zito's start on August 12, his ERA was 5.13. 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 be himself. Zito also said that it had been difficult for him to adjust to a new league, team, and ballpark. 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. 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. On April 28, 2008 the Giants moved him to the bullpen. 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.
The velocity of Zito's four-seam fastball has diminished, it's currently one of the slowest in the Major Leaugues clocked in the low 80s while occasionally reaching 85mph. He augments it with a changeup, and a traditional "12-6" curveball that's very slow but sharp. It was voted as the best curveball in the Major Leagues in a player poll conducted by ESPN The Magazine, the curveball is also Zito's strikeout pitch. Since mid-2004, Zito has added a two-seam fastball and a slider to his arsenal, though the curveball is still used more often. Zito's velocity and command are the key components of his struggle, his velocity does not allow him to overpower hitters, it places him in the same class as veterans Greg Maddux, and Jamie Moyer, but Zito does not possess the same type of command.
- 1999 - Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year
- 1999 - First-Team College All-American
- 1999 - Pac-10 Conference All-Star
- 2000 - AAA All-Star
- 2002 - Baseball America First-Team Major League All-Star
- 2002 - Cy Young Award (AL)
- 2002 - All-Star (AL)
- 2003 - All-Star (AL)
- 2006 - All-Star (AL)
Zito is known for his idiosyncrasies, and his offbeat personality. He has earned the nicknames "Planet Zito" and "Captain Quirk". 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. 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. In 2001, Zito espoused a universal life force that he credited with his midseason turnaround. 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.
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. 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.
He is a big fan of the San Francisco punk band, NOFX.
His favorite musician is Ben Folds.
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- ↑ Barry Zito Player File. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-15.
- ↑ San Francisco Giants. Cot's Baseball Contracts.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Barry Zito Statistics. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved on 2007-09-15.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Barry Zito Biography. JockBio.com.
- ↑ CCBL Alumni Year Drafted. Cape Cod Baseball.
- ↑ CCBL Champions: Arnold Mycock Award. Cape Cod Baseball.
- ↑ Barry Zito 2000 Pitching Gamelogs. Baseball-Reference.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Barry Zito Statistics. Baseball-Reference. Retrieved on 2007-10-01.
- ↑ Pedro Martinez Statistics. Baseball-Reference.
- ↑ Barry Zito 2005 Pitching Gamelogs. Baseball-Reference.
- ↑ Heyman, Jon (2006-07-08). Zito drops agent Tellem for Boras. Sports Illustrated.
- ↑ Draper, Rich (2006-12-28). Zito agrees to huge deal with Giants. MLB.com.
- ↑ Zito, Barry (2007-05-24). Let Barry be Barry. ESPN The Magazine.
- ↑ Haft, Chris (2007-05-19). Zito battered in return to Oakland. MLB.com.
- ↑ Eymer, Rick (2007-06-09). Giants shut out by Athletics. MLB.com.
- ↑ Haft, Chris (2007-08-05). Lowry hurt, Zito has relief outing in loss. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-04.
- ↑ Haft, Chris (2007-08-08). Bonds' 756th comes in loss to Nats. MLB.com.
- ↑ Barry Zito 2007 Pitching Gamelogs. Baseball-Reference. Retrieved on 2007-09-03.
- ↑ Shea, John (2007-09-03). By being himself, Zito is again Zito. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2007-09-03.
- ↑ Burden's on Giants' youthful starters Rotation appears to be strength of otherwise weak team
- ↑ Shea, John (2008-04-27). Zito Zapped Again. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-04-27.
- ↑ Haft, Chris (2008-04-28). Zito to work things out in bullpen. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-28.
- ↑ Crasnick, Jerry (2007-03-26). Baseball's obsession with the fastball. ESPN.com.
- ↑ Weiner, Richard (2002-10-03). Pitching the Zen of Zito. USA Today.
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 10 Burning Questions for... Barry Zito. ESPN.com.
- ↑ Price, Jay (2006-12-06). For Zito, it's dollars vs. sense. Staten Island Advance.
- ↑ Horowitz, Mitch (September 2003). Barry's Way. Retrieved on 2007-09-03.
- ↑ Moriarity, W.C. Slingin' it with Barry Zito. ChinMusic!.
- ↑ Bolda, Velia (2002-11-25). Ben Folds' stop in Milwaukee engages audience. OnMilwaukee.com.
- ↑ Arizona Diamondbacks broadcast of September 19, 2007 game against San Francisco Giants. KTVK 3TV.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Barry Zito's official web site
- Strikeouts for Troops
- Barry Zito at the Internet Movie Database
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