2014 In Review – Anthony Gose
Gose broke into the big leagues three years ago, but instead of laying claim to the club’s everyday center fielder job, he’s been bouncing between the Major Leagues and Triple-A, with almost as many plate appearances in Buffalo last year (224) as Toronto (274). The Blue Jays recalled him six times over the course of the season, frequently shuttling him more based on injuries on the big league club than due to his stellar performance (he posted a .298 wOBA with Buffalo in 2014).
When he was with Toronto, he frequently was moved around as well, with only 56 starts in center field (out of 94 games that he appeared in), despite that being his predominant position.
At the plate, Gose was a work in progress. He shows a good walk rate, at over 9% of his plate appearances, but struggles making contact. He struck out 27% of the time, and had a swinging strike 13% of the time. And when Gose did make contact, it was frequently weak; he had just 11 extra base hits, and hit the ball on the ground more than 60% of the time.
All that spelled a guy that was more or less an up-and-down utility outfielder. He was someone that was solid defensively, and could be used as a pinch runner when needed, but didn’t produce a ton offensively to warrant extensive playing time. That being said, what he did contribute in the field and on the bases resulted in a player that was worth 1.3 wins, despite being well below average at the plate.
2015 Player Projections
The projections differ in their value, but do so despite being consistent on Gose’s defensive contribution (that given inconsistencies in his first two seasons, he’ll be a solid defender but probably not as good as some are hoping). Both see him being better than a replacement player, but ZiPS sees him largely duplicating his production from 2014, while Steamer sees him taking a step back, in far fewer plate appearances.
ZiPS sees his offensive game taking a step forward, forecasting a bump in his average thanks to a BAbip that for his career was higher (.328) than what he posted in 2014, and let’s not forget his xBAbip projected a better return as well. That productivity results in a wOBA that gets much closer to average, and nearly full-time plate appearances to go with it.
Steamer on the other hand isn’t as optimistic, with a lower average, producing a wOBA nearly 15 points lower. That plus nearly 200 less plate appearances results in a guy that gives you less than a win over the course of the year.
The TigsTown Take
With limited evidence to work with of Gose as a player, we have to rely on the actions and thoughts of others. The Blue Jays were a baseball team that was barely above .500, and never in true contention for a Wild Card spot. Despite not being a great team, they could not find a consistent spot for Gose, instead shuttling him back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues.
On the other hand, he was only 23 years old last year, so the Jays were trying to be mindful that he was still developing, and getting him full-time at-bats if he wasn’t going to get them at the Major League level. He was also sitting behind Colby Rasmus, a superior offensive player despite posting a similar average to Gose. The Jays of course made the decision to move on without both of them, instead turning to 22-year old rookie and highly-touted prospect Dalton Pompey to handle center.
It’s easy to see why the Tigers are optimistic about Gose. He showed strides defensively last year in his advanced defensive metrics, he has plenty of speed, and at just 24, is just a little over a year older than Nick Castellanos, so there should still be room for growth.
But, the Jays basically gave him up for a solid second base prospect in Devon Travis, and didn’t think he was worth hanging onto even as insurance for a rookie starter. The Tigers want him to be that everyday starter in center, and eventually turn into the table setter guy at the top of the order, but until we see otherwise, it’s hard to truly believe Gose will be much more than a part-time outfielder getting some starts in center against right-handers, and yielding the rest of the time to Rajai Davis.
2015 Projections come from two different sources; ZiPS, and Steamer, both publicly available via FanGraphs.com and presented for information purposes only. ZiPS projections come from Dan Szymborski, and Steamer from Steamer Projections, a trio of independent academic researchers.
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