Perception vs. Reality: Why Gio Gonzalez Wasn’t As Bad As You Think

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

By most accounts it was a disappointing 2014 campaign for Gio Gonzalez, putting up the following numbers:

158.2 IP
10 Wins
3.57 ERA
1.20 WHIP
162 Strikeouts (9.19 K/9)
56 Walks (3.18 BB/9)
44.8% Groundball Rate
.294 BABIP

Wait, what? That was considered a disappointing season? There are a few factors at play here, despite the overall solid performance. Obviously the missed time and lack of wins play an important part of the overall impression fantasy owners had.

However, at the end of the day Gonzalez performed like one of the elite pitchers in the game. His control, which had improved with his move to the NL, took an even bigger step forward. He was solid in the first half, but even better in the second:

  • First Half – 3.56
  • Second Half – 2.75

If he could ever maintain the production from after the All-Star Break, he’d be a virtual lock to find himself in the Top 20 among starting pitchers. That’s because his strikeout rate has the potential to grow even more, as you can see for his peripherals as a member of the Nationals:


We have to like that type of growth and it’s easy to anticipate the strikeouts improving once again. When coupled with his control, exactly what is there not to like?

Granted, things would look even better if he was capable of generating more groundballs. At the same time, home runs have never been an issue for him (0.75 HR/9 for his career), so it’s not something that we want to make a big deal about.

Throw in a below average strand rate in 2014 (71.0%) and there is little reason to shy away. This is a classic case of perception vs. reality, and the truth is that Gonzalez was solid in 2014 and has even more upside moving forward.

He’s proven he can get the job done in the NL and there is no reason to downgrade him off of 2014. Let your competitors make that mistake, then grab a pitcher with a ton of potential at a discounted price.

Source – Fangraphs

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One comment

  1. Josh says:

    Do you ever look at any kind of standard deviation when it comes to analyzing pitching stats? I owned Gio last season and the most frustrating thing is not knowing which Gio is going to show up. I’d be curious to see an analysis of which pitchers tend to stay closer to their averages and which ones tend to be really good one game and terrible the next. Not sure if it would lead to super valuable information as I’m sure a lot depends on the matchup, but it may help on draft day when trying to decide between 2 guys.

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