Trevor Bauer had a career year in 2020, but how good was he? He posted a minuscule 1.73 ERA and had 100 K’s in 73 innings pitched en route to a Cy Young, but a deeper dive into the numbers suggest that Bauer could’ve been worse. He had a 2.88 FIP and 3.25 xFIP in 2020, which is still very good, but there is some batted ball luck in there. Although Trevor Bauer had the lowest ERA in the National League among qualifiers, he had the highest FIP when compared to Yu Darvish and Jacob deGrom, who finished 2nd and 3rd in NL Cy Young voting respectively.
It’s also important to consider that Bauer pitched in a smaller sample size due to the shortened season, making only 11 starts, with a bulk of those starts coming against NL Central teams. 4 of 5 NL Central teams made the postseason, but collectively had a poor hitting season relative to the overall performance by the rest of the league.
Bauer’s inconsistencies stem throughout his career. He has a career 3.90 ERA and 3.85 FIP, and the season after his 2018 All-Star season with the Indians where he posted a 2.21 ERA, he struggled mightily, ending the year with a 4.48 ERA and 4.34 FIP. According to FanGraphs, Bauer is projected to have a 3.76 ERA in 2021. Not great, but with his track record and expected production, it makes sense. The expectation that Bauer will repeat his 2020 production is unrealistic. Paying a pretty penny for a wildly inconsistent pitcher is a gamble the Angels should not take.