Taking away the names and just looking at the numbers can be an interesting game to play. Can you name these two pitchers who happen to have similar peripheral stats?
Pitcher A - 2011 stats
3.12 ERA, 3.73 xFIP, 8.9 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9, 47.5% GB%, 77.5% CT%, 28.6% O-Swing%
Pitcher B - 2010 stats
3.07 ERA, 3.94 xFIP, 9.5 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9, 41.5% GB%, 75.5% CT%, 27.5% O-Swing%
Pitcher A is Gio Gonzalez.
Pitcher B is Jonathan Sanchez
I used Sanchez's 2010 numbers because he suffered an arm and ankle injury this past season, which no-doubt affected his numbers.
The K/BB numbers are extremely close (2.16 to 2.14 K/BB), but Sanchez got fewer ground balls and allowed more home runs per nine. However, Sanchez had the higher strikeout rate and generated a few more swings and misses. Both are left-handed and have nasty stuff, but both lack the command/control to turn that stuff into elite results (Gonzalez had a great ERA in 2011, but didn't help fantasy owners much in terms of WHIP).
I'll take Gio over Sanchez in 2012 based on better walk rate, a better ground ball rate and a better home ballpark.