Gavin Floyd

Gavin Floyd is one of the newest Braves, and his acquisition was greeted by many Braves fans with a decided lack of enthusiasm. (It wasn’t just Braves fans; Notgraphs’s David Temple headlined a post “Gavin Floyd? More Like GavYAWN FloYAWNd!“)

In and of himself, there’s nothing with Floyd. But as a headliner, he lacks a bit of oomph. The Braves fell short in the first round of the playoffs yet again last year, and Braves fans were understandably hoping that the front office would make a splash in the offseason. Instead, they traded for a perfectly, precisely league average guy coming off Tommy John surgery. Remember, the last time that they traded a TJ guy to a team in Chicago, they sent Arodys Vizcaino over, and he had so many complications that he had to have another surgery; he still hasn’t pitched since the trade occurred, two and a half years ago.

How average is Gavin Floyd? High Heat Stats put it this way:

In fact, Floyd has been better than that since becoming a full-time starting pitcher in 2008, after four years of struggling to establish himself in a rotation. Since 2008, he has the following line:


That K/BB number is quite creditable, and as you can see from his ERA+ and FIP-, he has been solidly above-average since becoming a full-time starting pitcher, notwithstanding the 24 1/3 poor innings he tossed last year before going under the knife.

In fact, over the past years, Floyd’s performance has been virtually indistinguishable from that of John Danks, who is in the middle of a five year, $65 million deal and will earn $14.25 million this year. We got Floyd for a third of the price of Danks, and if he earns all of his performance incentives he’ll still only cost about half as much as Danks.

Gavin Floyd6260158972.27.212.841.
John Danks5561155970.26.712.741.

It does bear mentioning that Danks has had markedly worse performance over the last three seasons than he did over the first three: 3.61 ERA, 125 ERA+ in 608 1/3 IP from 2008-2010, followed by 4.69 ERA, 92 ERA+ in 362 1/3 injury-plagued innings from 2011-2013. Floyd’s performance gap is not quite as wide: 3.99 ERA, 113 ERA+ in 586 2/3 innings from 2008-2010, 4.38 ERA, 98 ERA+ in 386 injury-plagued innings from 2011-2013.

Like Danks, Floyd is a former first-round pick. Floyd taken fourth overall in 2001 by Philadelphia. Danks was taken 9th overall in 2003 by Texas. Each was selected one pick after a pitcher who wound up having a worse career: the third overall pick in 2001 was Dewon Brazelton, and the 8th overall pick in 2003 was Paul Maholm.

As fate would have it, the player selected after Floyd in the draft was a childhood friend of his older brother, who went to the same high school, Mt. St. Joseph in Baltimore: Mark Teixeira. (Floyd was drafted straight out of high school; Texeira is three years older, and was drafted out of Georgia Tech.)

Floyd did reasonably well in the minor leagues, but he didn’t blow hitters away. His minor league numbers are not much different than his major league numbers: 812 2/3 innings, 45-43 record, 3.69 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 2.13 K/BB. Though he spent two and a half years at the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he was never able to dominate minor league hitters.

Finally, in 2006, the Phillies traded Floyd along with Gio Gonzalez to get Freddy Garcia, a horrible move. While Garcia only pitched 58 innings before leaving in free agency, Gio was traded for Nick Swisher, and Floyd became a rotation mainstay for the Sox. After a good year in Triple-A in the White Sox system in 2007, Floyd finally broke out, winning 17 games in 2008. He’s been in the rotation ever since.

He’s got a fastball in the lower 90s and a hard curveball he throws in the low 80s, and since he’s a White Sox pitcher, he also has a cutter that he throws a lot. (Don Cooper, the longtime White Sox pitching coach, is well-known for favoring the cutter.)

He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, as his major league K/9 is equal to his minor league K/9 of 7.1. There isn’t anything that he does brilliantly. He’s basically the epitome of a league-average innings eater, except that he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, which means that the Braves won’t be able to rely on him to eat innings immediately. Howard Bender of Fangraphs suggests that the Braves are stashing him for second-half depth:

You almost have to cast aside the entire first half of the season and hope that he comes back strong after the All Star break.

Perhaps that’s actually the plan for the Braves overall. By the time Floyd can be trusted on the mound, Wood will have his innings capped and rather than go out onto the trade market for a starter, the team will already have a veteran arm in-house.

I think that’s about right, except that I see the glass as half full. It is exceptionally hard to find an extra league-average starter when you don’t have one waiting in the wings, as the Braves discovered in 2007, the nightmare year that they gave 96 starts to Buddy Carlyle, Kyle Davies, Jo-Jo Reyes, Lance Cormier, Mark Redman, Anthony Lerew, and Jeff Bennett. Depth is something you don’t realize you need till it’s gone.

That’s what Floyd is: depth. And that’s how he’s being paid, since his $4 million salary means he’s being paid more like a bullpen arm than a starting pitcher. If Frank Wren doesn’t make any bigger acquisitions than Floyd, then fans will have a right to feel disappointed about the offseason. But they shouldn’t be disappointed about Floyd himself.

51 thoughts on “Gavin Floyd”

  1. “If Frank Wren doesn’t make any bigger acquisitions than Floyd, then fans will have a right to feel disappointed about the offseason.”

    AAR, do you envision further offseason acquisitions for the Braves? I think we’re done.

    Thanks for the well-documented post.

  2. I always liked Cormier, because he lived in the same town as me when he was with the Braves, in Northport, AL.

    That’s the only reason.

  3. The move greatly helps the Braves in the regular season, but I’m not totally sure I’m worried about our regular season results.

  4. True, although I cannot imagine where we can get better except through players already in the system. Nobody wants Uggla; there are no true aces available that we can afford in money or prospects, and BJ looks like he’s going to be with us for the length of the contract.

    Maybe we would be better with Headley than CJ, but I’m not sure we can afford what the Padres would want. All in all, we have a good lineup, rotation and pen; and our bench is better than I’d hoped.

    Where do you think we could upgrade, and who/how much would it cost?

  5. @EOF is all I can think of.
    For a team that surprised so many people, I think most of their players were below their ceiling

  6. There was talk of “Morton Money”, but at least for seven million in 2014 you’ll (probably) get a pitcher who’s there for the whole year.

  7. 6: I agree. This is a team with a lot of room for improvement on the roster—a full season of Heyward, more innings from Wood, a rebound from Upton (even if he’s bad, being that bad is unlikely), and substitution of La Stella for Uggla. Wren is in the fortunate position of not needing to make a move to keep his team in good position to win the East again.

  8. he’s not annoyed that gavin floyd
    is seen to fill a certain void
    now out beneath the knife
    with speculation rife
    his average heater redeployed.

  9. if Wren is done, then so be we
    unless he plans a guaranty
    Andrelton then Freddy
    extensions at the ready
    and Jason asking, why not me?

  10. Nor is it what Heyward should be asking… probably, he should be questioning his agent’s sanity. Nevertheless…

  11. I think it is fair to assume that conversations have taken place between Wren and the agents for Hayward, Freeman, and probably others. Those conversations probably went like this:

    Wren: “Hey, we’d really love to sign [your player] to a long-term deal. We were hoping he’d sign for not a lot of money.”
    Agent: “Great! He loves Atlanta and would love to stay here. But he’s a really good player. He’d like a lot of money.”
    Wren: “I see. That’s a shame.”

  12. Merry Christmas to all that are part of the best site in Braves baseball! Woot and Braves Journal, sites that I’ve checked everyday for the past decade! Egg nog instead of coffee? Go Barves!

  13. @22. Seconded. Have a safe and happy holiday everyone.

    NFL, Olympics, College Hoops and then pitchers and catchers. The winter won’t be so long.

  14. Last reported Wren hasn’t engaged any talks with Freeman or Heyward. Has that changed?

    Merry Christmas to all!!

  15. The FO supposedly talked to some players who are the closest to FA on the team. Surprise, surprise, they want more than the team wants to pay.

  16. Lol, yeah that’s wishful thinking. DOB put this on twitter two weeks ago.

    @ajcbraves: For those who’ve asked, #Braves haven’t had any contract-extension talks with Heyward since season ended.

    @ajcbraves: Nor with Freeman. RT @Suzzanne3475: @ajcbraves How about Freeman? I’d rather they give him a long term deal.

  17. @28
    This was on December 12th, which was after the tweets above…

    David O’Brien ‏@ajcbraves 12 Dec
    I hear #Braves made inquiries into contract extensions with few of their young standouts past 2 yrs, felt would take big overpay to get done

  18. Yes I understand that to mean last offseason. I figured the Braves would at least make that attempt again this year.

  19. Merry Christmas from a lurker but (almost) everyday reader with two daughters (11 and 13)who for two years in a row have learned that gutshot feeling that it is to be a Barves fan – I’m so proud.

    Pitchers and catchers report in 51 days – now that is indeed comforting.

    Todd in Acworth

  20. What will this team look like when the new stadium opens? Will there be anyone left from the 2013 playoff team? Just a random thought.

  21. Frohe Weihnachten and Merry Christmas to everyone here on Braves Journal. Love this place. Really do.

  22. @csg
    Why would that mean last offseason. The quote was discussing the players who have stood out over the course of the last 2 years, not 2 years ago. I’m either confused by your comment or fuzzy due to excess Christmas refreshments! Why do you think that tweet means last year?

  23. The way I read that – the Braves made inquiries the past two years with Freeman and Heyward. They understood then that it would take a huge overpay to get it done and haven’t attempted it again this offseason. You may be right and maybe I read it wrong.

  24. @41

    I’m unsure why the obsession with this. Whether Wren asked this offseason or not, it’s not gonna happen because they’re both gonna want too much, especially given the market. I’m sure if something changes for one side, they know to call the other. It doesn’t require that Wren ask for weekly updates.

  25. Nick, listen, I agree with you. We are simply having a discussion and I’m responding to other posts in this thread. It’s not an obsession. It’s fans who are bored with our offseason, or lack thereof, activity. Wren and the market haven’t provided us with any other talking points.

  26. @43

    I’m defining “too much” as “more than we are willing to pay right now.” I didn’t mean it as a criticism of how much Heyward and Freeman are/would be asking for.

    If I were injecting my own opinion into it, I’d define “too much” as “enough money that it makes more sense just to wait and deal with it during free agency and/or when free agency is only a year away.” I believe they’re probably asking “too much” by that definition, too.

    Incidentally, if I could sum up the recent general team-building philosophy on this board and perhaps oversimplify it, it would be thus: The second a player becomes eligible for arbitration, he should be immediately signed to a long-term extension or traded for prospects. I find this to be a silly philosophy.

  27. People seem pretty keen on extending Andrelton ASAP. And maybe I’m misreading things, but I don’t know that absolutely everyone is psyched about buying out a FA year or two of Heyward’s, at market prices. Which I understand.

  28. That’s exactly the point. These players are always going to cost more than the Braves are willing to pay-absent some unlikely to desire to give a hometown discount-so there is no point lamenting that the Braves aren’t extending them. You simply have to accept that Liberty Media prefers to let top-flight players leave and try to replace them from the system. Whether or not these players “deserve” a certain amount is irrelevant because the Braves are not going to pay it.

    In any event, I’m not convinced that Heyward, at least, has justified the kind of contract that people think he will get. Maybe he will but, given that free agents usually end up getting paid based on past performance rather than future production, I’m not so sure that it makes sense to pay based on forecasting what he might produce in the future rather than waiting to see what he actually produces.

  29. Paul Blair just died. He was probably the best defensive CF I ever saw, next to Andruw Jones, of course.

    He played on those great Orioles teams that won 2 WS, 4 pennants & 5 division titles between 1966 & 1974. I was pretty young, but the O’s were on the Game of the Week pretty often & they were in the post-season a lot back then, and I remember Blair playing pretty shallow & running down everything. (Sound familiar?)

    How good was he? His career dWAR was 18.6. Willie Mays’ was 18.1.

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