Published on September 2nd, 2013 | by Josh Chapdelaine1
The Case to Extend Dillon Gee
The New York Mets organization won’t fondly look upon August 2013 for years to come. The team struggled to gain any traction following the All-Star Break, lost star pitcher Matt Harvey for the remainder of the season (and potentially most of 2014), and saw both David Wright and Ike Davis suffer injuries that threatened or completed their seasons.
Baseball can be a unique world because of the silver linings that can often be found in the darkest of storms. Matt Harvey went down with a debilitating injury, but Zack Wheeler has emerged as a major league presence. David Wright has been scratching to rejoin the big league club, but Wilmer Flores has gotten an opportunity that many fans have been longing for.
Then there’s Dillon Gee.
The 27-year-old Texan has quietly rebounded from minor league brinksmanship to the most successful stretch of his career. Gee completed the month of August with a 2.14 ERA in six starts, striking out 25 opposing batters in 42 innings pitched. Zack Wheeler has lit up the radar gun and received the bulk of the attention this season in lieu of Harvey’s absence. The anticipation created by Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard has been palpable. Yet there’s a very valuable -and often overlooked- piece of the equation that’s making a start every fifth day. Gee may seem like an unlikely hero, but in a world of baseball volatility he’s proving to be more than a fringe starter. Since the beginning of 2012, he has proven that he is a legitimate piece to a rotation.
Gee’s peripherals have all curved in positive directions since he earned a spot in the rotation in 2011. He has seen his walks dip from nearly four-per-nine innings to a scratch above two. While his strikeouts have an obvious outlier in 2012, he’ll be able to live with striking out six batters per game if his control can remain spot on. How much of his success has been based on luck? Well, as statistics show, Gee has been consistent with what he has been able to control.
His Fielding Independent Pitching has never drastically differed from his Earned Run Average since he earned a full time role. If anything, he has suffered from poor Mets defense. His FIP is inflated this year because of his rough start, but has steadily declined since his start at Yankee Stadium. FanGraphs values Gee at 0.6 fWAR, while Baseball-Reference seems to value him much higher at 2.0 bWAR. It’s difficult to assert how much Gee has truly been worth to this club’s success in 2013, but he has pitched much closer to a two win pitcher than less than a one win pitcher based on his recent dominance. As Gee becomes eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, the Mets should seek to extend the right hander rather than take him on a yearly basis. A fair comparison would be to model a contract after that of Jonathon Niese’s five-year, $27.25M extension with two team options. According to FanGraphs, the average value of one win above replacement is roughly $5M. The site values Gee at roughly $3M this year based on their model of WAR, but it appears Gee would be a solid value at $5M annually even removing the statistic. In a rotation that will spearheaded in the future by Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, Gee provides value in health, knowledge, and innings. He won’t light up the radar guns, he won’t be flashy, but he’ll be able to have flashes of brilliance in a rotation that has been decimated by injuries.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron