Simon: How Gio Gonzalez became the ‘Houdini’ the Nationals’ rotation needed

From SABR member Mark Simon at on September 26, 2017:

Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez is a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate, one whose numbers in 2017 are much better than they were a year ago, even though his peripherals (strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed) are about the same, or even worse.

The sabermetrician might scream “It’s luck!” — especially when you show them Gonzalez’s numbers with runners in scoring position.

In 2016, opponents hit .333 with runners in scoring position, the highest batting average against ERA title qualifiers in the major leagues. This season, they’re hitting .150, which is the second lowest such batting average in baseball.

Gonzalez’s manager, Dusty Baker, referred to Gonzalez’s escapes as “Houdini” in nature. But there’s method to the magic.

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Originally published: September 26, 2017. Last Updated: September 26, 2017.