One of my personal favorite players is still out there, looking for a job in Major League Baseball. His defense is spotty at best and in a corner outfield spot, he strikes out a heckuva lot, and he struggles mightily to hit right handed pitching. He may not have the most desirable overall game in the league but with the flaws comes a certain swagger to the clubhouse and a passionate person who plays the game the right way.
Swagger and passion alone will not land you a job in Major League Baseball. So, it’s a good thing that, more than any of that, the one thing this player does extremely well is hit left handed pitching. Jonny Gomes, simply put, is a lefty masher.
Gomes has been through a lot in his young life and is someone that is easy to root for. He lost his best friend in a car accident when they were 16 years old, sitting next to him in the backseat. He survived a heart attack on Christmas Eve in 2002, one month after his 22nd birthday.
Gomes now lives life to the fullest and you can see that in the way he plays and the way he cares for those around him. Gomes is a charitable man. Gomes sticks up for his teammates. But at the end of the day, a professional baseball player has to produce on the field if he wants to stay in the league.
Gomes also does a few small things well. He runs the bases well with a +3.4 Bsr over the past three seasons and +3.9 Bsr for his career. His UZR last year was +3.4 and could be the outlier but it gives one hope that he can handle left field on at least a platoon basis. But, again, the one thing he does exceptionally well is hit lefties. Take a look at his numbers against them since 2005:
Those numbers include an outlier 2008 where he hit .192/.281/.424. If you take that season out then Gomes hit .298/.392/.519 against left handers. Let me clarify that I am not one for just taking stats out of the equation but that season was so far outside of his norm and his .172 BABIP that season was well below his .336 mark, leaving me to believe bad luck had a lot to do with that season.
Gomes may not be an everyday player but he certainly brings value against left handed pitching and unmatched character to any team in the game. Here’s hoping he lands a solid role mashing lefties in 2012.