Michael Gonzalez was coming off of a 2011 season where he was well below his career averages and was actually below league average when it came to ERA+. 2012 was a much better and he posted a ERA+ that put him 32 per cent above league average.
2012 Projection (ZiPS): 3-2, 4.44 ERA, 51 games, 46.2 IP, 102 ERA+
2012 Actual: 0-0, 3.03 ERA, 47 games, 35.2 IP, 132 ERA+
He didn’t have any decisions on the season, but he definitely bounced back from his 2011 season and if you look at his career averages, he could have been even better and may have had a little bit of bad luck. Gonzalez, a left-handed thrower, eats up left handed hitters but has had surprising success over his career against right handed hitters. Over his career, right handers have only a .216 average against Gonzalez. This year, it was .284. A major reason for the change is the Batting Average in Balls in Play (BABIP). Over his career, it is .285 against right-handed hitters. That is just a tick below average which hovers around .300. This season, it was above average at .360. BABIP can be linked to luck, hit quality or just a blip on the radar.
Normally you look at this as a sign of improvement after a bad season, but Gonzalez was a very serviceable member of the Nationals bullpen. He was on a minor league contract signed in May before being called up in June and has done enough to earn a nice pay raise, with at least a major league guarantee. The Nationals have some options on where to go with Gonzalez in the future but the way he was pitching, he should be back if both sides want them to.
Gonzalez pitched in one game in the NLDS and gave up a homerun in his only inning.
Season Highlight: The most important appearance for Gonzalez was June 23 against Baltimore. The Nationals were up 3-1 in the seventh inning with runners in first and second, one out and Ronny Paulino at the plate. All it took was six pitches and Gonzalez got Paulino to line out to shortstop Ian Desmond who stepped on second to double off Wilson Betemit. The Orioles didn’t score again and the game ended with a 3-1 win. It was one of seven holds Gonzalez picked up on the season.
Chien Ming Wang