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Kyle Gibson a Top 20 Pitcher?

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#1 Doug Y

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 09:36 AM

Kyle Gibson is not a Top 20 pitcher right now. However, he has a BAA of .246, which is 17th best in the league. An OBP of .306, good for 19th. An OPS of .649, 9th place, and a BABIP of .265, which is 12th in the league. His WAR ranking is 23rd in the league at 1.4.

Teams are not hitting the ball that often or that hard against him this year. What does he need to do to take the next step and win more games? Better consistency? More strikeouts?

What does he need to do to be a Top 20 Pitcher?

#2 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 09:52 AM

He needs to miss more bats. Lots and lots of bats.

If he can do that while maintaining a solid groundball rate, he'll be just fine.

#3 Beezer07

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 09:55 AM

Needs to be more consistent. He's young, at least in terms of number of career starts, and he'll get better. But being consistently good, or at least reliable, is the goal

#4 nicksaviking

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:00 AM

Many people, including many Twins staffers think putting the ball in play is more efficient than strikeouts because theoretically you can get an out on one pitch. It's not happening though, instead, because Gibson and others aren't able to miss bats the batters are fouling off way too many pitches.

So yes, he needs to miss more bats.

#5 halfchest

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:04 AM

He needs to miss more bats. Lots and lots of bats.

If he can do that while maintaining a solid groundball rate, he'll be just fine.


I think it's coming eventually. Will he ever be a strikeout artist? No, but looking at his minor league numbers he did around 8 k/9 I expect him to get up around the 7 k/9 eventually and if he can do that along with his ground ball rates he'll be a solid 3rd pitcher in the rotation.

I've seen some make a Blackburn reference but I just don't see it, Blackburn was never a big strikeout guy like Gibson was. Thus far Gibson isn't striking guys out in the majors but I believe it will come eventually.

#6 Outlier

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:07 AM

I think we'll know he's reached a higher level when we see: an average of ~7 innings per start and an improved K/BB rate, one closer to 3.00 than 1.52.

#7 gunnarthor

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:10 AM

He's 5th in the AL in GB%. That helps him a lot. He's been inconsistent to say the least. He needs a few more strike outs and a few less walks. And I don't think there is any reason to think that won't happen. He just needs time.

#8 spycake

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:56 AM

I think it's coming eventually. Will he ever be a strikeout artist? No, but looking at his minor league numbers he did around 8 k/9 I expect him to get up around the 7 k/9 eventually and if he can do that along with his ground ball rates he'll be a solid 3rd pitcher in the rotation.


Andrew Albers was around 8 K/9 at Rochester last year too. Rate stats don't translate to MLB the same for all players.

So far, Gibson's career is looking like that of a young Mike Pelfrey a few years ago (groundballer, low K, average-ish BB rate), and his results seem similarly inconsistent.

#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:58 AM

He's getting so much movement on his pitches that 1.) not many are making solid contact against him, and 2.) he's walking a few too many. 1.) makes the strikeouts not quite as big of a deal, and 2.) is why he can get into trouble sometimes.

#10 halfchest

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:11 AM

Andrew Albers was around 8 K/9 at Rochester last year too. Rate stats don't translate to MLB the same for all players.

So far, Gibson's career is looking like that of a young Mike Pelfrey a few years ago (groundballer, low K, average-ish BB rate), and his results seem similarly inconsistent.


While true, Albers and Gibson are two different animals. There's a reason Gibson is in the rotation right now and Albers is in Korea. So yes, while the stats don't always translate to the big leagues, I think there's still a good chance that Gibson will improve his K rate but only time will tell.

I hope your Pelfrey comp is off, wouldn't be the end of the world as a mid rotation guy but I'm hoping he can be a bit better than that.
I hope you're wrong.

#11 spycake

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:22 AM

He's getting so much movement on his pitches that 1.) not many are making solid contact against him, and 2.) he's walking a few too many. 1.) makes the strikeouts not quite as big of a deal, and 2.) is why he can get into trouble sometimes.


This sounds like Deduno?

#12 PseudoSABR

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:36 AM

His rate stats certainly are encouraging but he's 40th in the AL in innings-pitched, right behind Correia. So he might be pitching top-20 innings, but he's not pitching enough of them, in my opinion, to be regarded as a top-20 guy.

#13 StormJH1

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:54 AM

Slow down. Phil Hughes as a Top 20 pitcher (or maybe Top 20 AL pitcher) may be a discussion. Gibson is not even close to that.

Anyone who's played fantasy baseball or tracks this stuff regularly knows how this turns out. It's not that pitchers can't find success if they fail to miss bats, it's just that they are so much more prone to wild ERA swings based on luck, defense, etc. Kyle Gibson is one of the worst starters in baseball at striking guys out. If you look at the top 40 in innings pitched (as referenced above), he is THE worst, save for Jeremy Guthrie. Even in a good defensive ballpark, that will eventually come back to bite you.

Someone above mentioned Mike Pelfrey. Pre-TJ Pelfrey is actually a pretty good comparison to what Gibson is doing right now. Both guys look big and throw reasonably hard, but are painfully bad at missing bats. Pelfrey would a year with an ERA in the high 3's, but it would be sandwiched with two years in the 5's. And that was in the NL.

I'm not being "down" on Gibson, I'm just being realistic. You don't usually "learn" to miss more bats in the majors. I would actually be more encouraged right now if his ERA were 4.70, but his K rate were 7.5. Gibson this year isn't walking a ton of people, and only has given up 4 HR's so far. What that means for his overall results is that you're basically looking at a "best case scenario" unless he strikes more guys out. Gibson is going to give up homers, and there will be times where the hits fall in bunches.

#14 spycake

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 12:00 PM

While true, Albers and Gibson are two different animals. There's a reason Gibson is in the rotation right now and Albers is in Korea. So yes, while the stats don't always translate to the big leagues, I think there's still a good chance that Gibson will improve his K rate but only time will tell.

I hope your Pelfrey comp is off, wouldn't be the end of the world as a mid rotation guy but I'm hoping he can be a bit better than that.
I hope you're wrong.


Albers was just one example. AAA league K/9 is around 8 right now, so Gibson was not displaying any standout skill. Can't always rely on those guys to translate their K ability to MLB.

It's hard to get a read on Pelfrey's early career as he didn't spend much time in the minors -- he had some early small sample BB/9 spikes, but by age 24, his first full MLB season, he had pretty much settled into a 3 BB/9, 5 K/9 guy, whose effectiveness was dependent on his BABIP fluctuations.

#15 Monkeypaws

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 01:24 PM

He's certainly showing the most promise at the ML level of a Twins first rounder since Garza. I hope his success continues.

#16 jokin

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:18 PM

He needs to miss more bats. Lots and lots of bats.

If he can do that while maintaining a solid groundball rate, he'll be just fine.


It's even simpler than that. He can be a decent P2C middling starter without the big K numbers IF he could just maintain his home GB% (58%) on the road (only 49.5%), coupled with a slightly better K% (13.1% @ home vs. 10.6% on the road), he'd be a pretty decent back-end starter. But yeah, a K more per 9 would definitely help.

His home/away split is unfathomably schizophrenic:

Home: ERA 1.54 FIP 2.95 xFIP 3.91 wOBA .240 GB/FB 2.53
Away: ERA 7.39 FIP 5.08 xFIP 4.95 wOBA .363 GB/FB 1.32

#17 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:24 PM

In order to be a top 20 pitcher Gibson would need a faster outfield plus an experienced center fielder. A solid everyday SS would help plus a 1B who has more experience at 1B.

#18 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:26 PM

It's even simpler than that. He can be a decent P2C middling starter without the big K numbers IF he could just maintain his home GB% (58%) on the road (only 49.5%), coupled with a slightly better K% (13.1% @ home vs. 10.6% on the road), he'd be a pretty decent back-end starter. But yeah, a K more per 9 would definitely help.

His home/away split is unfathomably schizophrenic:

Home: ERA 1.54 FIP 2.95 xFIP 3.91 wOBA .240 GB/FB 2.53
Away: ERA 7.39 FIP 5.08 xFIP 4.95 wOBA .363 GB/FB 1.32


It's too small a sample to draw solid conclusions.

#19 nathanaakre

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:29 PM

Anyone who's played fantasy baseball...


Ahh, you lost me there...

#20 drock2190

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 04:36 PM

According to rotographs hes the 143rd ranked pitcher.

Better temper your expectations going forward. Top 20 is pretty close to elite.

#21 jokin

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 04:48 PM

It's too small a sample to draw solid conclusions.


No solid conclusions, to be sure, just noticing a definite trend, confirmed in his Pitch F/X, and it's a trend that reporters and no doubt, his manager, coaches, teammates and Gibson, himself are fully aware he needs to get a definite handle on.

#22 Thrylos

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 05:11 PM

Give Gibby some time. It is his first full season in the majors. He will eventually get there.
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#23 TheLeviathan

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 05:21 PM

It's too small a sample to draw solid conclusions.


Well, yeah...but it's too small a sample to draw any conclusions positive or negative. It's a fair point to show just how wildly different Gibson's results have been home vs. away.

All the numbers are so dramatically different it's a good place to start for his improvement.

#24 ALessKosherScott

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 10:10 AM

For my two cents, there's an interesting story being told by Gibson's splits. His K-rate is pretty solid against right handed hitters, but against lefties his K-rate makes Nick Blackburn look like Nolan Ryan. To me, if you want to make him a top 20 pitcher, you have to figure out a weapon against lefties which probably means can you get Bobby Cuellar to get a better changeup out of him.

I still think he's headed down the Scott Erickson path though, and that's not bad, but not top-20 either.

#25 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 10:13 AM

I still think he's headed down the Scott Erickson path though, and that's not bad, but not top-20 either.


And that's still a good comp, IMO. A guy who is serviceable with the occasional luck-driven year where he's really good.

#26 spycake

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 12:28 PM

I still think he's headed down the Scott Erickson path though, and that's not bad, but not top-20 either.


Careful not to shortchange Erickson. Here are his yearly AL ERA and IP ranks for his first 10 seasons:

[TABLE]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]YEAR[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]ERA[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]IP[/TD]
[TD]Notes[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1990[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]23[/TD]
[TD](rookie year prorated to 32 starts)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1991[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]12[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]24[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1992[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]14[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]22[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1993[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]40[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]16[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1994[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]40[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]28[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1995[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]29[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]16[/TD]
[TD](Baltimore half season prorated ranks: 13, 6)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1996[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]24[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]12[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1997[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]11[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]10[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1998[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]14[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1999[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]25[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]AVERAGE[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]21.3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]15.4[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

That looks like a top-20 starter to me, even with his disastrous last 2.5 seasons in Minnesota. (Throw those out and he's about top 15 on average.)

By comparison, Gibson ranks 25th in ERA and 43rd in IP so far in 2014. If you prorate that to 32 starts and compare it to 2013 qualifiers, he'd rank 25th in ERA and 28th in IP. Still quite a ways to go to reach Erickson in either effectiveness or durability (not to mention longevity).

#27 spycake

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 12:49 PM

For fun, here are the ranks of my comparable Mike Pelfrey for his 4 full Mets seasons:

[TABLE]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]YEAR[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]ERA[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]IP[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]2008[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]18[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]16[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]2009[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]43[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]31[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]2010[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]26[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]16[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]2011[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]44[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]27[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]AVERAGE[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]32.75[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]22.5[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

His two good years are very similar to Gibson's 2014 in not only BB/9 and K/9, but also FIP and low 0.5 HR/9 (half the league rate).

The defining statistical feature of Pelfrey's two bad years? A league-average HR/9 rate (0.9-1.0), plus another ~0.4 H/9 over his good years too.

#28 tobi0040

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 02:11 PM

And that's still a good comp, IMO. A guy who is serviceable with the occasional luck-driven year where he's really good.


I think he has the chance to be much better than Scott Erickson. Scotty had a career 4.59 ERA. Gibson's FIP over the last two years is 4.52.

I think his absolute floor is 4.30 or so when he peaks. Another guy I think he can get closer to, but not as good as is Brandon Webb. I use the comp because Webb only had 7.3 K per 9, but ended his career with a 3.27 ERA (NL). If that adjusts to 3.40 or so in the AL, I don't think Kyle can get there. But the closer he can get to these three numbers Webb put up the better off he will be:

-7.2 K per 9 (high K's in the minors, have left)
-64% GB rate (Kyle is at 54% now)
-HR Rate of .6 per 9 (.52 so far this year, very low in the minors)

I think movement and keeping the ball down is Kyle's strengths

#29 spycake

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 03:24 PM

I think he has the chance to be much better than Scott Erickson. Scotty had a career 4.59 ERA. Gibson's FIP over the last two years is 4.52.


Erickson's ERA was 4.27 through age 32, before his extended injury/hanger-on phase. And that was in a pretty good offensive environment, so it was a 105 ERA+. And remember, that was over 10 seasons, 2000 innings. Look at the ERA/IP rank chart I posted above. I think Erickson is getting under-rated around here, big time.

Gibson right now is at 3.91 ERA, pretty much equal to his FIP, and it is only a 102 ERA+ in the current offensive environment.

Oh, and league K/9 was a lot lower in Erickson's time (and BB/9 was actually slightly higher too), so even if Gibson matches his modest peripherals, he's not as likely to have sustained success with them in 2014 and beyond.

I think his absolute floor is 4.30 or so when he peaks. Another guy I think he can get closer to, but not as good as is Brandon Webb. I use the comp because Webb only had 7.3 K per 9, but ended his career with a 3.27 ERA (NL). If that adjusts to 3.40 or so in the AL, I don't think Kyle can get there.


Webb met or exceeded the league K/9 every season of his career, I believe. Gibson is at 60% of the league K/9 this year.

Also, like Erickson, Webb was pitching in a much higher offensive environment. Webb's career 3.27 ERA was good for a 142 ERA+. That's like 2.90 in the present-day AL. Gibson has to work on sustaining 3.90 before we should even mention Brandon Webb.

#30 jokin

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 01:39 PM

Finally, do we have the exception to the rule that Pitch to Contact is a flawed concept?

Through yesterday's game, here are the important 2014 stats for Gibson's success that rank in the Top 20 in the AL:

FB%: 29.0% (8th)
GB%: 54.8% (5th)
LD%: 16.3% (4th)
IFFB%: 16.4% (2nd)
GB/FB: 1.89 (6TH)
K%: 11.9% (3rd Worst)
fWAR: 1.2 (Tied for 20th)

In 3 starts in June, Gibson has improved on most of these stats, most striking are his June #s in:

IFFB% of 35.7% which ranks 1st
GB% of 64.4% which ranks 3rd
LD% of 11.9% which ranks 2nd

So even though he's not missing many bats, batters are either pounding it into the ground, or largely doing the next best thing to a strike out- weakly popping the ball up to an infielder. As the previous study suggested, Gibson is being hit, but ranks with the best in limiting hard hit balls. This phenomena seems to be more than purely luck-related.

While he's definitely not a Top 20 pitcher, Gibson has apparently earned Gardy's confidence, when a strikeout was called for in high leverage situations- and even in the situation with 2 outs in the 7th, where Gardy in the past would surely have pulled Gibson- Gibson got weakly hit pop-ups or ground balls. So while SIERA loves Phil Hughes in June- Hughes sits at 2.69, while Gibson's SIERA for June comes in at 3.97......I think the Twins will be quite pleased if Gibson's ERA comes in somewhere close to that number as the season progresses.



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