Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dillon Gee is still getting lucky, but he's also getting (much) better

With all due SSS caveats, here are Gee's Major League numbers as a starter from 2010 and 2011:


What jumps off the page is that the numbers over which Gee has the most individual control (K/9 and BB/9) have significantly improved from his debut last September. He's managed to strikeout more hitters while walking fewer, to the point where his numbers in those categories are now in line with NL averages. In turn, he's knocked almost a full run off his FIP (a measure of ERA that attempts to be independent of fielding, i.e. a truer measure of a pitcher's individual contribution). Meanwhile, the numbers he has the least control over (BABIP and LOB%) have regressed toward their respective means. The NL as a league in 2011 has seen starters pitch to a BABIP of .288 and a LOB% of 72.1%. This regression toward those league averages is a major positive, as it implies that Gee's 2011 numbers are increasingly a reflection of his ability and less the result of the random nature of the game. And through all of it, he has continued to pitch deep into games, averaging around 6 1/2 innings per start (which is yet another important measure of his value).

Before diving in head-first on Gee, though, it's critical to remember that he's less than 100 innings into his big league career. There are still several cycles of adjustment that he and the league must make before he can be considered established. And there's also still enough daylight between Gee's BABIP and LOB% numbers and league averages to indicate that he's likely to experience some additional regression in performance measures like ERA and BAA (batting average against). Still, there is plenty to be excited about, and it's looking more and more like the Mets found a real gem in the 21st round of the '07 draft. One who is under team control at a very affordable rate for a long, long time. And one who, thus far, has been an absolute pleasure to watch pitch.

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