by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s obvious that Gio Gonzalez was among the better pitchers in 2017, but does that mean that he’ll be able to replicate those numbers in 2018? Obviously pitching in the NL East will help, considering the frequent matchups with the Braves and Marlins, but just looking at the numbers alone raise some significant red flags:
188 Strikeouts (8.42 K/9)
79 Walks (3.54 BB/9)
45.8% Groundball Rate
The fact is that the strikeouts (8.76 K/9 for his career), control (3.74 BB/9 for his career) and groundballs (47.5% for his career) are all believable… Maybe? The question for Gonzalez boils down to his luck and the potential of him maintaining his strikeout rate:
The number seems reasonable, but all of the underlying metrics actually regressed:
- SwStr% – 8.7% (lowest mark since 2010)
- O-Swing% – 28.1% (first time under 30% since 2012)
- Fourseam Fastball Velocity – 90.51 mph (hadn’t been below 92.06 since 2008)
None of those numbers support maintaining even this type of strikeout rate, and his 8.01 K/9 in the second half is more reasonable (though even that may be unsustainable). Keep in mind that he posted three months of K/9 under 8.00 last season and it’s possible that he ends up in the 7.75 K/9 range.
This is where the warning bells truly ring loudly. Just look at these numbers:
- BABIP – .258
- Strand Rate – 81.6%
We saw signs of a regression in September, and while you can argue an “overcorrection” in the strand rate a .314 BABIP and 66.1% strand rate translated to a 5.47 ERA. Neither of the overall marks are believable, especially considering his career marks of .293 and 73.7%, and as those come crashing down the ERA and WHIP will go with it.
190.0 IP, 12 W, 4.22 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 165 K (7.82 K/9), 77 BB (3.65 BB/9)
Gonzalez enjoyed a tremendous 2017 campaign, but does anyone truly believe that he can come reasonably close to replicating it? The risk of a strikeout regression is very real, especially at 32-years old, and there’s little chance that he can maintain his luck metrics over another full season (and we started to see the correction in September). Those two things come together to form an obvious overpay, and an ADP of 149.2 backs it up. Sure the cost isn’t exorbitant, but we’d much rather “gamble” on various pitchers going after him:
- Jon Gray – 165.3
- Garrett Richards – 179.5
- Kevin Gausman – 203.7
- Patrick Corbin – 236.9
Those are just a few examples. Sure the numbers seem impressive, but the risk outweighs any potential reward.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 02/20/18|