Monday, April 15, 2013
How 2008 Ruined Gavin Floyd For Everybody
I have nothing against Gavin Floyd as a pitcher. I don't think he's great, I don't think he's terrible, I just think he's a mid-to-back-of-the-rotation starter and like every pitcher of that description, he's going to have good games, average games and terrible games. However, since the sight of Gavin Floyd on the mound does not fill me with rage, I am very much in the minority of White Sox fans.
In the two years I've been tweeting during Sox games at @SouthSideAsylum, no White Sox player has brought as much vitriol into my mentions as Gavin Floyd has. When he's great it's just people talking about how he's just going to suck again sooner or later, and when he sucks it's people reminding you that he sucks and that he probably shouldn't be allowed to live anymore because he just gave up a home run.
It's comical and terrifying at the same time.
But what I wanted to figure out was where it came from, and I believe I figured it out. It was his performance in 2008. He was too good.
The Sox traded for Gavin after the 2006 season, getting him and Gio Gonzalez back in return for Freddy Garcia. Gavin had been the fourth pick in the 2001 draft because of his tremendous potential. The potential that drives Sox fans crazy, as his stuff has never been in question. It's been his execution.
Gavin only made 10 starts for the Sox in 2007, but did appear in 16 games. He was not very good in any of them. In his six starts Floyd went 1-5 with an ERA of 5.02, and as a reliever he was 0-0 with a 6.39 ERA. He also gave up 17 home runs in 70 innings.
But then 2008 came and it looked like the Sox had absolutely fleeced the Phillies. Sure, they'd already traded Gio Gonzalez for a second time, this time for Nick Swisher, but Floyd was pitching so well that it didn't seem to matter.
Gavin would finish the season 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 206.1 innings. He was the pitcher the Phillies thought they'd drafted, but he was in a White Sox uniform and the Sox, along with the fans, thought we had a 25-year old stud in the rotation to rely on for years to come.
But we probably shouldn't have. Had we been smarter fans we probably would have noticed some other factors that were in play.
From 2004 through 2007 Gavin had pitched 178.2 innings in the Majors, and during that time opponents had a BABIP (batting average of balls in play) of .307. The lowest BABIP against him in any season was the .294 mark in 2005 when he pitched only 26 innings (and had an ERA of 10.04!).
In 2008 opponents had a BABIP of .259 against him.
That's just not a number that's sustainable, and considering that Gavin has never struck out more than 7.7 hitters per nine innings, we should have known that reality would return in 2009.
Since that 2008 season that BABIP has returned to a normal .298 -- not including 2013. Gavin has gone 45-48 with an ERA of 4.20, though his ERA+ of 105 in that span shows his ERA has been better than average. Still, he's never again approached the pitcher we saw in 2008 because, while some of it was certainly his performance, luck also played a large role in his career year.
So, really, it's not fair that Sox fans would hold that against him. It's not his fault. He's always been the same player, he's always been Gavin Floyd. An average pitcher with above-average stuff.
We shouldn't hold it against him. Especially when you consider what he has done while he was here compared to what we gave up for him.
After being traded to the Phillies for Floyd, Freddy Garcia went on to make 93 more starts in his career, throwing 540 innings, with an ERA of 4.57. Gavin has made 165 starts as a White Sox, pitching 1,029.2 innings and posting an ERA of 4.21.
The Sox won that trade. Gavin has out-pitched and out-lasted the guy he was traded for, and he helped us win a division title in 2008.
Yet we'll never give him any credit for it because, in our minds, he's never been the guy we thought he could be.
And that's our fault, not his.
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