Six MLB players who easily outperformed preseason expectations

Six MLB players who easily outperformed preseason expectations

Chin Music Baseball

Six MLB players who easily outperformed preseason expectations

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Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds

Projected fWAR: 2.5

Current fWAR: 4.3

By virtually all standards, Sonny Gray’s short tenure with the New York Yankees was a disaster. So much so that it probably wouldn’t have been repaired and he needed a change of scenery. After seeing his name in the rumor mill for quite a while, he finally got that fresh start with Cincinnati (with a contract extension, to boot).

He’s taken advantage of this opportunity and has helped solidify what had been a weak spot in the Reds’ roster for years.

The right-hander’s 170.1 innings are the most he’s tossed since 2015 (208), while his 2.80 ERA is also the best it’s been since that year (2.73). The 4.3 fWAR he’s accumulated to this point is actually a single-season career high. Although Gray may have been aided with a suppressed BABIP (.258 despite a 38.0% hard-hit rate), his ground-ball rate is still up at 51.5% and his line-drive rate has been slashed by five percentage points.

Gray’s biggest improvement has come in his strikeout rate, which rose from 21.1% in ’18 to 28.9% at the moment. When looking at pitches he’s thrown at least 500 times, his sinker has dramatically changed to make this happen. After posting a 9.7% strikeout rate with that offering last year, it’s gone all the way up to 29.3% this season.

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