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Who Else Is Having A Season Like Gibson?

This year, Kyle Gibson has been extraordinary in wins and terrible in losses. Is he truly an outlier or are there other pitchers out there that have been just as inconsistent as him?

Thearon W. Henderson

Throughout this season, we've seen Kyle Gibson turn into the second-best starter in the Twins rotation behind Phil Hughes. Armed with a good sinking fastball, Gibson has been able to get his opponents to beat the ball into the ground, which has led to very few strikeouts, but also very few home runs.

However, it's been well-documented that he's been fairly inconsistent this year. Specifically, during FSN broadcasts, we've been told that Gibson has been dominant when he earns a win, but has been utterly terrible in his losses. I'm writing this prior to Tuesday's game, but I'm willing to bet with Gibson starting, FSN will pull up a graphic once again that tells you this.

Gibson ERA in wins: 1.07

Gibson ERA in losses: 11.84

That's a pretty shocking difference, I must admit, and definitely exemplifies the definition of inconsistent. In spite of these facts, though, I was a bit annoyed with FSN, which you'll know is a common occurrence if you follow me on Twitter. One of the greatest errors any broadcast can make is presenting facts to the viewer without providing context. Averages for the entire league are rarely mentioned, so when we are told that a player hitting .280 is having a good season, we don't necessarily know how good his season has been without the league batting average presented as well for comparison.

Coming back to Gibson, FSN wasn't telling me if his difference in ERA in wins and losses was actually unusual because they didn't mention what the league average was for both stats. Thus, I used Baseball Reference to find every starting pitcher's ERA in wins and losses, and then combined the data to find the league average. Just as a note, some pitchers have been swingmen this year where they have recorded wins and losses when they both started and relieved, so the data I'm using isn't necessarily 100% starting data, but it's pretty close. This was pretty lengthy research and it did take me several hours over two days, but hopefully this is worth it. Here's what I found.

League starting ERA in wins: 1.92

League starting ERA in losses: 6.63

Well, how about that. It's clear that Gibson has been better than the rest of the league when he wins, and much, much worse when he loses. However, he's not alone. Gibson's two ERAs have a difference of over 10, and here are the other starting pitchers this year to achieve that same feat. The numbers following each pitcher are the win ERA followed by the loss ERA, and the asterisk denotes players that have thrown less than 50 innings as a starting pitcher.

Kyle Gibson: 1.07, 11.84

*Ivan Nova: 2.77, 17.61

Chase Whitley: 2.49, 13.09

*Dustin McGowan: 0.59, 11.74

*Cesar Ramos: 0.00, 11.45

*Allen Webster: 3.50, 13.50

*Erik Johnson: 1.80, 13.50

Martin Perez: 1.11, 12.83

*Jerome Williams: 3.00, 15.55

*Matt Harrison: 0.00, 16.20

*David Hale: 1.76,  16.20

Jose Fernandez: 0.31, 11.00

*Carlos Martinez: 3.60, 14.14

*Carlos Villanueva: 2.25, 13.50

*Tim Stauffer: 1.00, 27.00

Jordan Lyles: 3.03, 16.20

Now how many of these pitchers qualify for the pitching leaderboards by averaging at least one inning per team game?

Kyle Gibson

Wow. It appears as though he really is having an unusual season. Well, how about I lower the ERA difference to "just" 9, let's see if we can snag any other qualified pitchers then.


Oh... well, what about a difference of 8?


Is that Tsuyoshi Wada?

No, not Wada, nada.

Crap. Hmm... uh... 7?

Tim Lincecum: 1.75, 9.46

Yovani Gallardo: 0.97, 8.38

Drew Hutchison: 1.66, 8.94

Hyun-Jin Ryu: 1.75, 9.00

There we go. Here are Kyle Gibson's contemporaries this season, and even they haven't been as inconsistent as him. What's interesting is that Hutchison and Lincecum have pitched worse than Gibson this year in terms of ERA, whereas Ryu and Gallardo have been significantly better. For what it's worse, Justin Masterson does have an ERA difference of over 9 in wins and losses this year, but he was just about 10 innings short of qualifying. Provided he remains healthy for the rest of the year, he could join Gibson in this dubious honor of inconsistency.

Gibson has been really, really good in his victories this year, so let's take a look at the qualifying starters that have posted an ERA as good or better than Gibson in wins this season.

Clayton Kershaw: 0.68

Cole Hamels: 0.81

Tim Hudson: 0.91

Yovani Gallardo: 0.97

Stephen Strasburg: 1.02

Adam Wainwright: 1.03

Kyle Gibson: 1.07

That's a solid list of names to join. What about qualifying pitchers with a worse ERA than Gibson in losses?

Kyle Gibson: 11.84

Ouch. No qualifying pitcher has been worse in losses this year. The closest qualifying pitcher to Gibson is Hyun-Jin Ryu at 9.00 in losses. Finally, just because I'm amused by this fact, since Gibson is arguably the most inconsistent pitcher in the majors this year, what if we looked at the most consistent? Basically, here are the pitchers that have an ERA difference in wins and losses of 2.00 and below. Again, only qualified pitchers here.

Hiroki Kuroda: 4.62, 4.69

Felix Hernandez: 1.94, 2.30

Chris Tillman: 2.13, 2.76

Chris Sale: 1.73, 2.84

Jon Niese: 3.15, 4.82

Kuroda's numbers look pretty bad, but his overall ERA is under 4 thanks to him pitching very well in no-decisions. I wonder though, would us fans prefer for Gibson to be like Kuroda, where he's pretty much a lock to give up 3 runs in 6 innings almost every start, or would we keep the current Gibson that can dominate some nights, but just fall apart in others?

In closing, it's clear that Kyle Gibson is having one unusually inconsistent season this year for any pitcher. However, he's been able to string together more good starts than bad, and that's why he's been the Twins' second best starter this year in spite of the uneven outings.