Barry Zito

Barry William Zito (born May 13, 1978) is an American professional baseball pitcher in the Oakland Athletics organization. He stands 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and weighs 205 pounds (93 kg). He has also previously played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Francisco Giants. His pitching repertoire consists of a curveball (his strikeout pitch), a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a circle changeup, and a cutter-slider.

Zito attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles Pierce College, and the University of Southern California. Drafted three times while in college, Zito signed with the Athletics when they chose him in the first round of the 1999 MLB Draft. A year later, he was in the major leagues, finishing fifth in American League (AL) Rookie of the Year Award. He struggled to begin the 2001 season but improved greatly down the stretch, finishing the year 11–1 over his final two months. He won 23 games (while only losing five) in 2002 and won the Cy Young Award. His record was only 14–12 in 2003, but he still made the All-Star team for the second year in a row. In 2004, he had his worst season at the time, going 11–11 with a career-high 4.48 earned run average. He became Oakland's Opening Day starter in 2005 and finished fifth in the AL with 171 strikeouts. In 2006, he made the All-Star team and posted a 15–1 record when receiving two or more runs of support.

Following his seventh season with the Athletics, Zito signed a seven-year deal with the San Francisco Giants in December, 2006. At the time, it was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. He posted double-digit wins in his first three seasons, and in 2010 he helped San Francisco win their first championship since 1954. However, he struggled the last month of the season and he was left off the postseason roster. After sitting out much of the 2011 season with a foot and ankle injury, he came back in 2012 and flourished, finishing with a 15–8 record, his best season in a Giants uniform. The same October, Zito helped lead the Giants to their second World Series title in San Francisco history by going 2–0 with a 1.69 ERA in three postseason starts. In his first career World Series start, he outdueled Tigers' ace Justin Verlander in Game 1, setting the stage for San Francisco's sweep to their seventh World Series title in franchise history. Zito struggled in 2013 but received a standing ovation from the fans in his final appearance as a Giant. Following the year, he became a free agent. Zito, a philanthropist, founded Strikeouts For Troops, a national non-profit that provides comforts of home and lifts the spirits and morale of injured troops as well as offering support to military families.

By Dean Hanley

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