Gavin Floyd: Underrated Extraordinaire
Over the past three seasons or so, White Sox starting pitching Gavin Floyd seems to be the fan’s whipping boy on the team. Such remarks are usually that Floyd isn’t “mentally tough” or that he “sucks”, and has “always sucked”. All very harsh, and unfair criticism of Gavin Floyd. Like with John Danks’ extension last offseason, people look at Gavin Floyd’s old school numbers: 62-56, 4.12 ERA as a member of the White Sox rotation since 2008. pitcher by the old stats, and we plan to do that again.
First, lets look at Floyd’s ERA+, and for those who don’t know/remember ERA+ is ERA adjusted to the league average and the pitcher’s ballpark. Floyd’s ERA+ averages out to be 108 since he joined the rotation full time since the 2008 season. 108 is above average and for a 4th starter, that is very handy to have. And the only season Floyd’s ERA+ dipped below 100 (100 being the average) was in 2011 when it was 99.
Second, if you’re still sold on ERA as being the basic stat for judging a pitchers let’s compare Floyd’s ERA to his FIP, xFIP, tERA, and SIERA. Essentially FIP, and xFIP are metrics that judge a pitcher by things he can control (walks, strike outs, and home runs) and not determined by a defense behind him, while tERA factors in all batted balls, and SIERA is a skill independent ERA. You judge these like you would with ERA
2010: 4.08 ERA – 3.46 FIP – 3.69 xFIP – 3.82 tERA – 3.79 SIERA
2011: 4.37 ERA – 3.81 FIP – 3.73 xFIP – 4.27 tERA – 3.70 SIERA
2012: 4.29 – 4.46 FIP – 4.26 xFIP – 4.74 tERA – 4.07 SIERA
So, in two of the past three seasons, Floyd pitched better than his ERA gave him credit for. The one year where he was worse than he showed was 2012, when he only pitched 168 innings.
Next, let us look at Gavin Floyd’s value to the team. Floyd’s WAR, or wins above replacement, averages at 3.0 since 2008, and like with ERA+ lets look at the last three seasons, still 2.6. Not as great, but still pretty solid. Not to mention Floyd always racks up innings, usually hovering around 190 when healthy, which he usually is. And in contrast to the rest of the league since 2008 (I chose 2008 since that was his first season as a full time starter) in WAR he ranks 21st.
Alright, so you’re still not convinced Floyd isn’t just awful? Alright, let’s check Floyd’s HR/FB, and IF/FB rates. Floyd averages a HR/FB of 8.0% and an IF/FB of 13%. Floyd is very good at keeping the ball in the park, which is tough to do at U.S. Cellular Field, and he is above average at keeping flyballs in the infield, and making outs. Again, this is pitching at U.S. Cellular Field, where in the summer is one of the more prominent launching pads in baseball.
Alright, so what can we gather from all this? Well, Floyd pitches above average in a hitters ballpark in the more offensive league. Floyd pitches better than ERA gives him credit for. Floyd gives you about 3 wins over an average pitcher, while pitching a good amount of inning. And doing this as the #4 or #5 starter in the rotation. Very hard to argue that Floyd is awful, or needs to be traded.