Key Stats: For the second straight season, Gio Gonzalez was ranked between 100th and 115th in the Yahoo player rater. That’s solid consistency from a guy that is only 25 years old and now moving into the land of no DH. Gonzalez’s greatest strength to fantasy teams is his strikeouts. He was 17th last year in strikeouts and 35th in 2010. The innings were essentially the same between the two seasons meaning that he developed into a better power pitcher last season.
Skeptics Say: Unlike his strikeout total Gonzalez’s WHIP was not in the top twenty last year. Or the top forty. Or the top sixty. In other words, in a mixed league his WHIP hurt teams. Among starting pitchers that qualified last year, only James McDonald had a lower walks per 9 innings. There isn’t much hope to report in this regard as it marked the second straight year Gio was second to last in walk rate (Jonathan Sanchez beat him out in 2010) and his walk rate actually improved last year.
Peer Comparison: CBS ranks Gio as the 30th best starting pitcher and Adam Wainwright the 26th best starting pitcher. I know that Wainwright is coming off of Tommy John surgery, but essentially what this does is rank the two players about 12 picks apart from one another (give or take five). That’s not right. Before surgery, Wainwright was twice ranked in the top 20. He’s still only going to be 30 years old this season and was almost ready to pitch in October. I’m not willing to make Wainwright a top twenty type of pick next season, but he’s a safe distance ahead of Gio in drafts.
Team Outlook: Tbe Nationals as a team have something going on with their pitching staff for next season and a decent lineup around them, but given all that the Marlins have done and how good the Phillies and Braves were already, that doesn’t guarantee anything in the wins department for Gonzalez. The switch to the NL will help Gio a little though. ESPN Park factors ranks Nationals Park 18th in runs and The Coliseum ranked 20th. A minor difference that gets outweighed when you consider the NL league average ERA was 0.27 lower than the AL last season.
Projection: What I have the most difficulty doing is saying no to a sad puppy face. What I have the next most difficulty doing is saying no to solid numbers in a player’s last starts. Gio’s last four starts last year included a 1.24 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in addition to the aforementioned strikeouts.14 wins 3.27 ERA 1.31 WHIP 197 K in 206 innings