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Can He Repeat in 2011: Gio Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez was a definite breakout performer in 2010, helping the Athletics to lead the American League in ERA.

2010 Performance

15 wins, 3.23 ERA, 200 2/3 innings pitched, 171 strikeouts, 92 walks, 1.31 WHIP

ERA+ of 128, FIP of 3.78, xFIP of 4.18

Rankings

My Original Rank: Not Ranked in Top 75 starting pitchers
ESPN's Preseason Rank: #199

Yahoo's Final Rank: #34
ESPN's Player Rater Rank: #34

The biggest concern coming into 2010 was whether or not Gonzalez would be able to cut down on the walks enough to hold his starting job for the full season. He clearly cut them down enough (going to 4.13 BB/9 from 5.11 in 2009), but can he repeat this performance next season?

My Thoughts

Wins - I am actually pretty impressed that Gonzalez got 15 wins for my Athletics. They never really seemed like they were good enough to consistently hold leads, and the offense was a constant concern. I think that realistically he can repeat this next year, but I probably wouldn't bet on that. 13-14 wins seems a bit more realistic.

ERA - The advanced statistics point towards some regression, but I do like that part of the reason his ERA dropped in 2010 was due to an increase in the percentage of ground balls (49% vs 46% in 2009) and the decrease in the percentage of line drives (18% in 2009 vs. 15% in 2010). I think he's going to see some regression, but he seems like he should still be around 3.50 or so, which is definitely a solid ERA for as many innings as he's likely to throw.

Strikeouts - Gonzalez actually struck out less per 9 innings in 2010 than in any other season, but was still at a solid 7.67 per 9. I think he's going to be just fine here, and could eventually have a 200 strikeouts season in him as well.

WHIP - The walks are a big key to this. 92 walks in just over 200 innings is not the greatest rate, but he has shown months where he was great (2.85 in August), and others where he wasn't so hot (5.35 in September). I think we could see a slight improvement in this next season as he matures, but I'd be beyond shocked if he was able to drop it below 1.20 any time soon.

Conclusions

Gonzalez had a great season in 2010, and while I think there's going to be some regression, it's not going to be a huge amount. This is of course contingent on his ability to at least maintain the gains he made in walks. I think we are looking at a starting pitcher who should be ranked between 35 and 45 next season, and could fairly easily post the following line: 14 wins, 3.50 ERA, 180 strikeouts, 85 walks, 1.26 WHIP.