Just How Good Is Sonny Gray?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

When the A’s acquired Jeff Samardzija the perception was that they had acquired an ace. However, we could easily make the argument that they already had one in Sonny Gray. Is Gray really that good? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

With a 2.79 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, the perception of being a top starter is certainly there. The real question is if he can maintain it or not. He does bring the three skills that we look for:

Strikeouts
While he owns a 7.73 K/9, the potential is there for more. He had a minor league career mark of 8.33 and was at 9.42 in 64.0 Major League innings last season. He also has just one bad month, dragging down the overall number:

  • April – 8.12
  • May – 6.27
  • June – 9.00
  • July – 7.48

When coupled with last season’s mark, it would certainly appear like he has the potential to have a consistent mark of 8.00 or better.

Control
His 3.08 BB/9 is hardly a number to be upset about, and he was at 3.09 over his minor league career. While the number is skewed a bit by a poor June (3.90), he probably is about where we should expect him to be overall.

That’s not a bad thing, but this may be the weakest of the three skills.

Groundballs
He owns a 53.6% groundball rate in 2014 after 52.9% mark in 2013. Over his minor league career he was at 53.1%, so there is no reason to think that he can’t continue generating them at this type of rate.

When you put that number in a comfy home ballpark? It’s a perfect match and helps to explain why he owns a 0.52 HR/9 in his Major League career.

Conclusion
While the walk rate may keep him from truly being “elite”, there is little not to like about Gray. With an impressive groundball rate, room for growth in the strikeout department and one of the best offenses behind him there is no reason to think that he won’t continue to thrive.

If you have an opportunity to buy at a reasonable price, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

Source – Fangraphs

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