Is Miguel Gonzalez underrated?
I think the answer to that is yes and I think he is underrated by some of his own fanbase. Gonzalez has been a solid starter for most of the last two years for the Orioles and here’s a big one - he’s pitched well against the American League East.
Over the last two seasons, Gonzalez is 20-12 with a 3.58 ERA. A.J. Burnett, who just got a one-year, $16 million contract, is 26-21 with an ERA of 3.41. Gonzalez, by the way, has earned about $1 million total over the last two years, is under team control for four more seasons and won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after this season.
As bargains go, you cannot get many pitchers doing what he has at that price.
Let’s compare Gonzalez last year to Jon Lester last year in a few stat categories:
Lester: 3.75 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2.8 walks/9 IP, 8.8 hits/9 IP.
Gonzalez: 3.78 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.8 walks/9 IP, 8.2 hits/9 IP.
I am not saying Gonzalez is better or even the equal of Lester, who tops Gonzalez in innings, strikeouts and homer rate. But Gonzalez hangs with him in some important stat categories.
Gonzalez the last two years vs. the AL East:
* 3-0 with 3.13 ERA against Boston
* 2-2 with 4.01 ERA against New York
* 2-3 with 3.94 ERA against Tampa Bay
* 4-2 with 3.00 ERA against Toronto
You add that up and Gonzalez is 11-7 with an ERA of 3.56 combined the past two seasons when facing an AL East team.
Chris Tillman is considered the O’s best starter and a potential future ace. His ERA is 3.48 the past two seasons compared to Gonzalez at 3.58. His WHIP, best among O’s starters in that span, is 1.17 to Gonzalez’s 1.22. Tillman has a left on base rate of 78.1 percent the past two years. Gonzalez is at 77.1. Among O’s starters, Jason Hammel had the lowest homer rate over 2012-13 at 1.08 homers per nine innings with Gonzalez second at 1.20.
If you want to put a dent into the positive vibe here, Gonzalez could do a better job getting deep into games and pitching well later in games. In 2013, his ERA was 2.49 over the first four innings, but 6.22 from the fifth inning on. He was better later in games the previous season with an ERA of 3.02 from the fifth inning on.
Gonzalez has shown consistency in that lefty batters hit .244 off him and right-handed batters hit .236. His ERA is 3.68 at home and 3.50 since 2012 on the road.
I think an important stat for a pitcher is the team’s record when he starts. The Orioles are 26-17 when Gonzalez starts since 2012 for a win percentage of .605 while the team overall has a combined .549 win percent in that time. The O’s are a most impressive 31-17 for a win percent of .646 in Tillman starts since 2012, by the way.
No, Gonzalez has not been quite as good as Lester or Tillman or some other top starters the last two years, but he’s been quite solid to me.
He doesn’t throw that hard. He doesn’t strike out that many. He hasn’t (so far) made any All-Star teams or been given a big salary.
He doesn’t always get his props either.