Overrated or underrated: Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray was new to the Cincinnati Reds last season and despite an All-Star performance, the media surrounding baseball still tends to overlook him.

Sonny Gray was a somewhat controversial player to bring to the Cincinnati Reds in 2019. Gray was traded from the New York Yankees last winter in exchange for prospect Shed Long and a draft pick. Following last year’s performance, it appears as though Gray may be one of the more underrated players on the Reds roster.

After a few good seasons with the Oakland Athletics and a trade to the Yankees, Gray finished the 2018 season with an ERA of 4.90. This underwhelming performance is why Reds fans, myself included, were a bit skeptical of bringing him to Cincinnati. However, I was happy to be proven very wrong as it turns out Cincinnati is a great fit for Sonny Gray.

Joining the Reds, Gray was reunited with fellow Vanderbilt baseball alum and battery mate Curt Casali. The two Vandy boys were also reunited with former pitching coach Derek Johnson, who had an incredible effect on then Reds pitching staff last season.

Don’t be fooled by the less-than-stellar 11-8 win-loss record. Sonny Gray had an unbelievable comeback season in 2019. He finished the year with a 2.87 ERA, 7th in all of major league baseball and 5th in the National League. Though he didn’t get to pitch in the game, Gray also made his second trip to the All-Star Game along with his teammate Luis Castillo.

Despite all of his success last season, Gray doesn’t always seem to get the deserved recognition from the  baseball media. SI.com puts Gray below the likes of Aaron Nola and Brandon Woodruff to win the NL Cy Young. Both Nola and Woodruff ended the 2019 with a higher ERA than Gray. In Nola’s case, his ERA was a full run higher (3.87).

MLB.com doesn’t even list Gray as a dark horse candidate to take home the award. Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves, who’s ERA was higher and strikeout numbers were lower, is mentioned. Dinelson Lamet, who only started 14 games following Tommy John surgery, is has even been given more love than Sonny Gray.

It’s easy to overlook performances like Gray’s when that pitching performance isn’t necessarily contributing to a team’s playoff run. However, the Cy Young Award is based on individual performance, as we saw with Jacob deGrom in 2018, when the New York Mets went 77-85 but the right-hander took home the hardware.

Who knows, maybe if the Reds had been able to pull off something similar to what the Washington Nationals did last season, then perhaps Gray, and even more of the team’s outstanding players, would have received a little more recognition for their successes. As it is, the offensive struggles and one-run losses overshadowed the many great parts of the 2019 season.

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Let’s hope they can rectify that when we finally see the return of baseball in 2020. As for Sonny Gray, the verdict is in; the Reds right-hander is severely underrated by the baseball pundits. I can’t wait to watch him prove everyone wrong this coming season.

Verdict: Underrated
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