Bumped from FanPosts. This FanPost was originally published on March 9, 2012, but the predictions look good so far this season. I'll have more on Gee tomorrow, too. -- Chris
Dillon Gee really didn't have a great year last season. His 4.43 ERA was as mediocre as the advanced metrics painted him to be (4.65 FIP, 4.48 SIERA). However, one thing I noticed a while ago was his above average swinging strike rate.
Gee got opposing hitters to swing and miss at 9.1% of his pitches, a rate a tick above the league average of 8.6%. Despite that, his strikeout rate was a measly 16.2%, well below the 18.6% league average. When I noticed this, I decided to compare other pitchers' swinging strike and strikeout rates.* Gee was, unsurprisingly, one of the outliers, along with notable strikeout underachiever Jeremy Hellickson:
* I filtered 2011 starting pitchers with at least 150 IP.
Turns out, Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs kind of already did all the dirty work back in October and wrote an article about predicting strikeout rates from swinging strike rates. There's a large chart at the end of the article showing pitchers' swinging strike rates and their corresponding expected strikeout rates. Dillon Gee comes in fairly close to the top of the list with the following rates (note the decline in FIP):
Swinging Strike%: 9.1%
Expected K%: 22.2%
Expected FIP: 4.12
Well that looks better, right? A FIP in the low-4's certainly looks sexier than a FIP in the mid-4's to me. Furthermore, this would push Gee's xFIP of 4.46 to a much more palatable 3.93. That's a big improvement. And while that's still not a great number for a guy making nearly half of his starts in Citi Field, that also includes a BB/9 rate that is a hair under 4.
I have a feeling that is going to come down based on the fact Gee's control is just better than that; he walked just 2 batters per 9 innings in his entire minor league career and 2.5 batters per 9 in AAA, after all. Yes, that's not the Major Leagues, but it's still hard to imagine him sustaining a walk rate close to 4 per 9.
Gee's resume to date doesn't impress me. I look at his numbers and see a guy who was worth just 0.2 fWAR last season, which is basically replacement level. But there is definitely more that meets the eye when you do a little digging and a hint of forecasting. Who knows, maybe his swinging strike rate regresses next season or something, but there is definitely some reason to have optimism that he might be something better than a warm, replacement level body or generic number-five starter.