Carlos Alberto Zambrano (born June 1, 1981), nicknamed "Big Z" or "El Toro", is a former Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 2001 to 2012 for the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins. Zambrano, who stands 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and weighs 275 pounds (125 kg), was signed by the Cubs as a free agent in 1997 and made his debut in 2001. After being used in both starting and relief duties, he enjoyed his first full season as a starter in 2003, finishing with a 13–11 record, 168 strikeouts and a 3.11 ERA.
The controversial pitcher is known as one of the best hitting pitchers of recent times. He was a switch-hitter with a career .238 batting average with 24 home runs, 71 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .396. The 23 home runs are the most ever by a Cubs pitcher. He also tied with Ferguson Jenkins for the club record for home runs by a pitcher in a single season, hitting six in 2006. Zambrano was called on to pinch hit 20 times in his career and won a Silver Slugger Award three times for his hitting.
Zambrano was the only National League pitcher to win at least 13 games in each year from 2003 to 2008. In 2006, he became the first player from Venezuela to lead the National League in wins.
By Dean Hanley
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