The lowdown on righty Kevin Gausman

November 29th, 2021

A free agent last offseason, opted to accept the Giants’ one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer. The right-hander went on to earn his first All-Star selection in 2021, recording a 2.81 ERA with 227 strikeouts over 192 innings for the 107-win NL West champions in his age-30 season. His impressive season paid off as he hit free agency again and agreed to a five-year, $110 million contract with the Blue Jays, a source told

Here’s what you need to know about Gausman:

Birthdate: Jan. 6, 1991 (Age 31 in 2022)
Primary position: SP
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 190 lbs.
Bats/throws: Right/right
Place of birth: Centennial, Col.
School(s): Grandview (Col.) HS; LSU
Drafted: 1st round (4th), 2012, by Orioles
MLB debut: May 23, 2013
Qualifying offer: Not eligible to receive one

2021: 14-6, 2.81 ERA (145 ERA+), 227 K, 5.3 WAR* in 192 IP
Career: 64-72, 4.02 ERA (105 ERA+), 1,161 K, 16.8 WAR in 1,177 1/3 IP
* Per Baseball-Reference

Gausman not only had his first All-Star season in 2021, but also a career year in many categories. The right-hander posted single-season bests in ERA (2.81), WHIP (1.04), strikeouts (227), innings (192), WAR (5.3), hits allowed per nine innings (7.0) and opponents’ OPS (.609), building on a strong showing for San Francisco during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

Which version of Gausman will Toronto be getting? The one who had a 4.30 ERA (99 ERA+) for the Orioles, Braves and Reds across 2013-19 … or the ace-level stud the Giants saw take the mound over the past two years? The one who posted a 1.73 ERA over 18 first-half starts ... or the one who pitched to a 4.42 ERA after the All-Star break?

He’s one of 10 players ever to accept a qualifying offer
The qualifying offer was implemented in 2012. Through '20, 96 players received one. Only 10 accepted, including both Gausman and Marcus Stroman a year ago. The first eight to accept it were Colby Rasmus, Brett Anderson and Matt Wieters in '15, Jeremy Hellickson and Neil Walker in ‘16, Hyun-Jin Ryu in ‘18 and José Abreu and Jake Odorizzi in ‘19.

Gausman's deal is the largest ever for a player coming off a qualifying-offer season. This was the next deal for each of the previous eight players:

Rasmus: One year, $5 million with Rays
Anderson: One year, $3.5 million with Cubs
Wieters: Two years, $21 million with Nationals
Hellickson: Minor League deal with Nationals
Walker: One year, $4 million with Yankees
Ryu: Four years, $80 million with Blue Jays
Abreu: Three years, $50 million with White Sox (contract replaced qualifying offer)
Odorizzi: Two years, $20.25 million with Astros

Gausman is ineligible to receive another qualifying offer, which means he was not tied to Draft-pick compensation this offseason, something that possibly made him more appealing in free agency.

His splitter/four-seamer combo was elite
Gausman’s success in 2021 hinged on a devastating splitter and four-seam fastball combination. He used the two pitches 88% of the time combined and picked up 219 K’s, including 138 on splitters alone. No pitcher recorded more strikeouts on an individual pitch type than Gausman did with his splitter.

Gausman’s run value (the run impact of an event based on the runners on base, outs, ball and strike count) on splitters was -23, tied for the second best in MLB behind Carlos Rodón’s four-seam fastball (-26). He also posted a -12 run value on four-seamers, putting him in elite company.

MLB pitchers with two pitch types of -12 run value or better
Kevin Gausman: splitter (-23), four-seamer (-12)
Jacob deGrom: four-seamer (-15), slider (-14)
Lance McCullers Jr.: slider (-14), knuckle-curve (-13)
Joe Musgrove: curveball (-17), slider (-13)
Carlos Rodón: four-seamer (-26), slider (-14)
Max Scherzer: four-seamer (-18), slider (-14)
Zack Wheeler: four-seamer (-14), sinker (-12)

He’s among Giants legends
Gausman's Giants tenure has come to an end, but the righty has carved out a place among some of the franchise's greatest pitchers.

There have been only 11 instances since the Giants moved to the West Coast in 1958 in which a San Francisco pitcher struck out at least 220 batters and posted a sub-3.00 ERA in a season. The others to do it before Gausman? Hall of Famers Juan Marichal (three times) and Gaylord Perry (twice), two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (three times) and Madison Bumgarner (twice).