White Sox

What's next for Gavin Floyd?

706810.png

What's next for Gavin Floyd?

I'm a big fan of FIP. In most cases, it's an accurate predictor of future performance, a much better evaluative tool than ERA. It factors in three things pitchers can directly control: walks, strikeouts and home runs -- thus, Fielding Independent Pitching.

FIP is why I was concerned about Gavin Floyd going in to 2009. His results were fantastic in 2008, and his 3.84 ERA still stands as a career high. But his FIP was a full-season high of 4.77, which seemed to be a harbinger of doom for the next season.

An odd thing happened after late May of 2009, though. Floyd went from being a pitcher who seemingly pitched above his ability to one who pitches below his ability. Basically, Floyd's walk rate and home run rates went down while his strikeout rate went up. And so did his ERA.

Floyd has thrown 574 innings from 2009-2011 with a 4.17 ERA. So just as his 2008 FIP predicted, his ERA did go up -- but the weird thing is that FIP went down. Basically, Floyd has done better at the things he can control while seeing worse results.

In theory, Floyd should be primed for a breakout. A lot of sabermetrically-oriented analysts value him as the guy with a good FIP, and thus value him highly.

But three straight years of a sub-3.85 FIP and above-4.00 ERA are probably a trend. Throw Floyd's win-loss record out the window -- that he's 33-37 in the last three years isn't important.

A side note, though: As you'll see in the sidebar video, Floyd is concentrating on getting himself -- and, of course, his team -- wins. Pitcher wins (not above replacement) are not a good stat for writers to use in evaluation, since they're so incredibly influenced by factors out of a pitcher's control.

But for a pitcher? It's great that Floyd wants to win games. For Floyd, if he gets the W, that means the White Sox won. Of course, if he is shouldered with a loss, it may not be his fault, and no pitcher should ever "pitch to the score" (i.e. be content with allowing five if the offense scores six). But since pitchers aren't analysts, executives, etc., wanting to win games is a good thing.

Anyways, back to meaningful stuff Floyd can actually control. This isn't a comparison looking at Floyd's mentality, more in terms of results: Floyd has become Javier Vazquez lite. In two of his three years with the Sox, Vazquez' ERA was nearly a full run higher than his FIP, save 2007 when he had a 3.74 ERA and 3.80 FIP.

Vazquez did a lot of things right, posting good strikeout and walk rates. But his command was often an issue, leading to the righty throwing quite a few hittable pitches and, thus, the high ERAs. The big inning was always an issue for Vazquez while with the White Sox; he'd cruise along for four innings then unravel in the fifth.

But if Floyd is Vazquez lite, that's actually not a bad thing. He's had better ERAs than in Vazquez' worst years, and remember, Vazquez put together a fantastic year in 2007. If the ERAs are neutral, it's much better to have a lower-FIP guy like Floyd than a higher-FIP guy, since the lower FIP pitcher is much more likely to have "big" season -- just as Vazquez did five years ago.

Maybe this is the year Floyd finally breaks the trend of the last three seasons. But even if he doesn't, he'll be a valuable asset to the White Sox as a solid mid-rotation pitcher.

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

jose.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

With Jose Abreu playing in the All-Star Game, we asked some of his American League teammates about the White Sox first baseman. Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Brantley rave about Abreu, explaining why he’s such a great hitter and a tough out for pitchers. 

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

0716-abreu-moncada.jpg
USA TODAY

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the White Sox wait for their All Stars of the future to develop, Jose Abreu is representing the club at the All-Star Game in the nation’s capital.

Abreu, elected by the fans to be the American League’s starting first baseman Tuesday night, might represent the White Sox present, but he’s a key part of their future, as well. While his contract situation remains a mystery — the team would need to extend him in order to keep around past the 2019 season — he’s helping to develop the players who are planned to make up the next contending group on the South Side.

No player is more under Abreu’s guiding hand than Yoan Moncada, his fellow Cuban who just a season ago was the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Moncada’s development from top prospect into star of the future is the biggest storyline of the season for the White Sox. And Abreu, the role model in this clubhouse, is in part tasked with helping Moncada do just that.

“Our friendship is special,” Moncada said through a team translator last week. “We’re always talking about everything, having fun. He gives me advice, and I always try to make fun of him. Our relationship has been for a long time. We were friends in Cuba. And now we are rejoined here. It’s just a very good relationship. I’m blessed having him here.”

“He’s a Cuban, and it’s always special to play with a fellow Cuban countryman. He’s a great kid,” Abreu said through a team translator Monday. “I think that it’s a blessing. The White Sox did all that they could do for us to play together. I’m just enjoying the moment and every day with him. It’s special. It’s definitely a very special feeling.”

Abreu is often lauded by White Sox brass as the perfect example of what they want their young players to become. His incredible production makes that an easy comparison: He put up at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first four major league seasons. But it’s what he does outside the lines that gets the highest praise. Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all of Abreu’s teammates constantly talk about his work ethic, his routine, his dedication to getting better and the way he goes about his business.

Moncada’s noticed. And he sees Abreu’s latest accomplishment — getting picked as an All-Star starter — as vindication that, yes, Abreu’s methods certainly work.

“Knowing him, knowing all the effort that he puts into his preparation, his work ethic, all that work that he puts into his preparation is paying off and he’s recognized with this election,” Moncada said. “That’s something that motivates you, something that lets you know that if you do things the right way, you’re going to get rewarded. For me, it’s a motivation, and I feel really honored to share this team with him.”

Moncada’s first full season in the bigs hasn’t gone smoothly. He’s had his hot stretches — including the last couple weeks; he’s slashing .356/.453/.644 since July 2 — but he’s also had long periods of struggles. Certain aspects, such as a propensity for striking out and making errors at second base, have been constants throughout the campaign.

Renteria refers to the mistakes and the poor results as teachable moments. Does he have a proxy teacher in Abreu?

“I tell him to enjoy the game,” Abreu said. “Enjoy the game, have fun, be a little more focused on the situation of the game. But I think the key is to have fun.”

Mostly, though, Abreu is convinced that Moncada will blossom into the kind of player White Sox fans hoped he would when he brought that top-prospect track record to the organization in the Chris Sale trade. The expectations are undoubtedly high, but Abreu’s been seeing Moncada meet them for some time. The two have known each other since the younger Moncada was 17 years old.

“I think that he was born with special abilities to play this sport,” Abreu said. “Before I met him, there were a lot of people talking about him in Cuba because of his abilities, the talent that he has. And when I met him, it was a very special moment. As soon as I met him, I realized, ‘Wow, what people say about him is true.’ His body type, his ability to play the game. He’s special.”

So will the All Star of today and the All Star of tomorrow one day share the All-Star stage?

“I would like to have that opportunity. Let’s pray to God to have that opportunity,” Abreu said. “If that happens, that would be really special for us.”