Gavin Floyd is the most talented pitcher in the White Sox rotation.
The natural response to such an assertion is, "well, clearly talent isn't everything."
For reasons varying from high BABIP, a tendency for the calamitous big inning, the occasional injury, bad luck, inconsistencies in his stuff, that one year ('08) where he was on the mound for an incredible 19 unearned runs, Gavin Floyd's merits have always had to be argued as much as they could be viewed.
To get a gist of the confusion of the last three seasons of Floyd:
Floyd has his most wins and lowest ERA in '08, but the lowest FIP, lowest WAR on FanGraphs, worst K and BB totals.
Floyd posted his best win values across the board in '09, but saw his BABIP raise, prompting a worse ERA
Floyd had his best FIP in '10 and was the best pitcher in baseball for a 6-week stretch, but posted a losing record, and had his worst win-value based on runs allowed.
It all paints the picture of a hurler whose ability has never been properly shown or represented over the course of an entire season, making it a peculiar and perhaps ineffective way of evaluating him.
So here's his season wrap-up!
Stat line: 31
starts, 187.1 IP, 10-13, 4.08 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 199 H, 14 HR, 151 K (7.25
K/9), 58 BB (2.79 BB/9), .329 BABIP, 3.46 FIP, 4.3 fWAR, 3.0 bWAR
What did we expect?: Baseball fans are generally commendable for their extraordinary amounts of patience (fans of the best teams are still asked to disregard the results of 65-80 separate evenings), but for some reason there was still an undercurrent of frustration with the young, very-talented, big right-hander under contract for cheap. I decided to tap into it...brace yourself.
From March 28th Season Preview
"Probably the best stuff on the staff, and the shakiest
control. Gavin may throw a no-hitter one day (he flirted with a few in
'08), but he will never throw a perfect game."
"Floyd's stuff, size, and strength
means that he can be regularly dominant, which is pretty damn good for
a No. 4."
Complimentary, reverent and yet, strangely backhanded (A No.4??!). Coming into the season, it was easy to tell Floyd was great--one could simply roll tape from one of his many superlative outings where his curveball was landing--but I expected to be disappointed again.
The result: At least from a game-results perspective, it's easy to break Gavin Floyd's season down into a classic Alexei Ramirez-style cold-hot-cold bell curve.
Too Cold!: April 8-May 16: 8 starts, 45 IP, 7.00 ERA, Team Record is 2-6
Too Hot!: May 22-August 7: 15 starts, 99.1 IP, 1.90 ERA, Team Record is 9-6
Cold + "Arggh! My back!": August 12-September 20: 8 starts, 43 IP, 6.07 ERA, Team Record is 2-6
When Floyd was good, he was absurdly good. He posted FIPs of 2.43 and 2.22 in June and July, only gave up 2 HRs in the aforementioned 15 start-stretch, kept the groundball rate well over 50% (hence the no-homers), and a WHIP of 1.04. Obviously toggling with FanGraphs reveals that Floyd wasn't actually the best pitcher during this stretch. But was he in the top 10? Was he the ace of the staff? Did his turnaround spark the incredible run of quality starts the Sox staff put together to thrust themselves into the division race? YesYesYesYes.
But how bad were the other two stretches? Because a combined 6.55 ERA certainly sounds extremely bad. When pressed for insight on these periods awhile back, White Sox Examiner, J.J. Stankevitz termed them as "Unlucky BS"...so let's investigate that.
If we termed April, May, August, and September as Floyd's "bad months" roughly because it's easiest to pull data by the month, his FIPs shake out to 3.69, 4.17, 4.72, 3.66. It indicates that he's nowhere near his top form, but certainly a very competent pitcher. His BABIP for those months are .369, .343, .322, and an absurd .413 in September. With his career BABIP mark sitting right around the standard .300, it seems, yes, Gavin was indeed walking under some ladders, bumping into mirrors, and stumbling on black cats on his way to the mound during this stretch. That or Carlos Quentin is not a bad outfielder, he just has a personal vendetta against Gavin. Frankly I prefer the former.
But, even though writing this recap in January makes me almost entirely reliant on stats, a bit of scouting keeps me from giving Gavin a total pass. He may have gotten some undeserved extra baserunners, but he also handled it poorly, lost confidence in his breaking stuff, was reckless in the middle of the plate, and allowed troubling situations to snowball. His awful early-season strand rates, 55.8% in April and 66.8% in May, support that when he needed to be at his best, he was at his worst.
Love him or leave him?: In Gavin Floyd and John Danks, the White Sox have not only two starters that they actually went through their early tumults with the organization, but two starters that few Sox fans want to see traded not just for their production, but for the promise they continually represent. No one is this more the case for than Floyd, who for the third straight season has posted impressive statistics, moments of transcendence, and just enough struggles to suggest that he has another level yet to reach.
With his relative youth, favorable contract and ability, there's no way that Floyd can serve the Sox more as a trade piece unless some GM becomes very, very stupid.
There's only one more wrap-up left....Thank God.
J.J. Stankevitz wonders if you can put a Tank in the outfield.
Jim Margalus at SSS uses the magic of Twitter not to deride Jay Cutler, but to recap SoxFest.