Chicago White Sox 2012 Year in Review: Gavin Floyd, SP

Rich KraetschCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2012

Gavin Floyd had a slightly above average year for the Chicago White Sox, but is it enough to keep his job?
Gavin Floyd had a slightly above average year for the Chicago White Sox, but is it enough to keep his job?Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

2012 ZiPS Projection: 12-11, 4.08 ERA, 185.3 IP, 106 ERA+

2012 Actual Statistics: 12-11, 4.29 ERA, 168 IP, 101 ERA+

Sometimes I forget Gavin Floyd is even a member of the Chicago White Sox. No White Sox starter elicits as many questions of “Wait, who’s starting today?” than Floyd.

Perhaps it is his low-key approach to the media or his quiet demeanor. The better guess, however, is his quiet on-field performance. Floyd is sometimes just...there. He will not dazzle you every single night with jaw-dropping performances, but he is reliable enough to remove daily frustration. He lives somewhere in that fourth or fifth starter region.

It is reassuring to know you have a consistent starter in that rotation year in and year out. The question is though, will Floyd’s consistent mediocrity be okay with Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn and the rest of the White Sox front office?

The 2012 season was for the most part a status-quo year for Floyd. His ERA (4.29) fell slightly from his 2011 mark of 4.37, but is still very different from the sub-4.00 ERAs he had his first four years with the White Sox.

His ZiPS projection is disturbingly accurate to what his actual year was. The win total was exactly projected. His loss total—you got it—exactly projected. ZiPS put his ERA+ just five points above what it actually was.

Last year, a career-high BB/9 would hypothetically tell the story of someone letting more guys on base. However, Floyd’s WHIP (1.33) was not really out of the ordinary; it was better than 2011 and 2010.

Floyd’s increased BB/9 was offset by a career high K/9 rate of 7.71. Moreover, Floyd was stranding more runners than ever before on his way to a career-high 74.9 percent LOB percentage.

So what is going on? Why did his ERA drop only slightly from a disappointing 2011 campaign? For one, his increase HR/9 rate told the story of someone leaving guys on base, but letting batters clear them more easily.

The long ball was one of the reasons the Philadelphia Phillies let Floyd go in the first place, and despite playing in a home run hitter's paradise, he had controlled them for most of his tenure.

Floyd allowed 1.18 HR/9, his highest since his first full year with the White Sox in 2008, and his HR/FB ratio showed a trend of Floyd’s balls getting hit harder and farther. His HR/FB ratio of 12.8 was his highest since his tenure in Philadelphia where he put up ratios of 14.7 percent, 19.7 percent and 17.7 percent.

Floyd did not significantly change the way he pitches, and the real good news for Floyd is there has not been a significant drop in his velocity or speed with any pitches. His pitch f/x numbers tell the
story of a curveball that is still above average, but not as top-notch as it was during his first few years with the Palehosed.

Much was made of Floyd's strong September after a tweak in his delivery as suggested by hitting coach Mark Parent but the only thing that seemed to change in Floyd's game was his HR/9 which fell below one. However, Floyd also had a sub-1 HR/9 during his impressive July, which was before the apparently Parent tweak. Pitch F/X shows a significant change in the Vertical Movement of his curveball from September (-4.34) to his abysmal August (-5.22 inches). 

It is hard to put a bow on the year in review for Floyd because it really depends how you view Floyd. The real question comes down to is Floyd a top-tier starter for the White Sox, or is he merely their consistent/reliable fourth or fifth starter? In a perfect world, he would be that consistent fifth starter in the Jon Garland vein.

What complicates that perfect scenario is a looming $9.5 million club option for 2013. Gavin Floyd presented a good value in his years with the White Sox, but it is be hard for them to justify a $9.5 million deal for a 2.0 WAR pitcher like Floyd.

The White Sox should attempt to retain Floyd because of his reliability, especially because it's uncertain how well John Danks will bounce back from injury. The caveat, though, is declining that club option and attempting to retain Floyd via free agency. It simply does not make business sense to pay a player of Floyd’s level that much. I would target something similar to what he received in 2011 ($5 million).