In the long history of Major League Baseball, few players have left a mark with their personality quite like Bill "Spaceman" Lee. A former left-handed starter, Lee played 14 seasons and was a one-time All-Star, but perhaps he is better known for his antics both on and off the field. He famously created the 'Leephus' pitch, wrote several books, and publicly spoke out on politics and drug use.
The former Red Sox and Expos pitcher is still well-known among baseball fans and hosted a chat with the website Deadspin on Tuesday. Most of the questions from fans were about drugs and what he is doing after baseball, but one question-and-answer hit home for Nats fans.
A reader posed a question to the Spaceman asking which current big leaguer most resembles his pitching style. Here is the back-and-forth:
Deadspin reader: what current pitcher would you say pitches most like you? Zito?
Lee: No, the guy who used to be with Oakland and is now with Washington
Unless Lee is referring to Henry Rodriguez, the "guy" he is talking about is Gio Gonzalez. Gio was traded to the Nationals over the offseason from the Athletics and is left-handed. Gonzalez also happens to be the life of the Nationals' locker room.
Statistically, they really aren't that similar. Both pitchers have maintained low ERAs across 200 inning seasons, but Gonzalez both strikes out and walks a lot more batters than Lee ever did. In 1974 Lee pitched 282.1 innings and posted just 95 total strikeouts, Gio has 168 this season through 159 13.
The "Spaceman" would be considered a pitch-to-contact guy much more than Gio Gonzalez and he was also a bigger pitcher at 6'3". Lee didn't elaborate, or specifically use Gonzalez' name, so as with most of what we know about Bill Lee, we may have to fill in the blanks.