When the Indians season started, I had high hopes for our backup catcher, Lou Marson. However, things have shifted as the season has progressed, not only with the players in which I have placed my hopes, but in the backup catcher himself.
Yan Gomes has moved his way through the ranks of the Indians system, not only from the minors into the Major Leagues, but in his playing time, as well. Starting his big league play as a backup catcher behind Carlos Santana following injuries inflicted on Marson early in the season, Gomes has proved his worth to the Indians organization. He has earned daily playing time and moved to the role of regular catcher, moving Santana to the backup catcher, designated hitter, or first base role. Although Manager Terry Francona has been quoted saying that Santana is still the Indians catcher, he also said that it doesn’t matter the number of the catcher. “We have two catchers and they’re both pretty good,” Francona said on August 14 on Cleveland.com.
Although Santana had his strengths as a catcher, his real worth has always been with his bat. Santana is hitting .247 as a catcher, but .286 playing first and .281 as a designated hitter. He has 11 home runs while in the catching role, but this may only be a product of having spent more games in the catching position than anything else. He has four homers as a first baseman and three as a designated hitter.
Overall on the season, Santana is hitting .262 with 18 home runs and 123 total hits. He has an .822 OPS.
Gomes, however, has more power combined offensively and defensively, which has contributed to his more consistent playing time and plate appearances. His 2012 season did not reflect his potential and what he has delivered in 2013, but he has certainly proved that he has earned his spot on the Tribe roster.
Gomes came to the Indians in November 2012 in a deal that sent Esmil Rogers to the Blue Jays and allowed the Tribe to also acquire Mike Aviles. With the Blue Jays, Gomes hit .204 in 43 games. He hit four home runs. Gomes played throughout the infield while in Toronto and only played in nine games as a catcher. He entered 2013 as the Tribe’s 27th prospect.
Gomes has truly come into his own this season, proving to be invaluable in the Indians lineup. He hit two home runs in his first month with the Indians in April and ended the month with a .200 AVG. He has continued to grow throughout his time with the Major League club and hit .370 in May with 17 hits, including three home runs. He had 11 RBI in May and struck out nine times. He posted a 1.010 OPS.
June had Gomes hitting .244, though his average spiked back up to .313 in July and was .281 in August. He is hitting .500 in September with a 1.454 OPS.
Defensively, Gomes is undoubtedly the stronger catcher. He consistently makes strong throws in pick-off attempts, having thrown out 50 percent of base runners, ranking first among MLB catchers. He has only three errors behind the plate, has allowed three past balls and has a .995 fielding percentage. While Santana has four errors and a .994 fielding percentage, Gomes still proves to be the more effective player behind the plate.
As a catcher, Gomes has hit .309 this season. He has played as a designated hitter in seven games, hitting only .167. Overall, he is hitting .303 in 71 games. He has 69 hits on the season, with 15 doubles, two triples and 10 home runs. He has walked 16 times and has 47 strikeouts. His overall OPS is .872.
Gomes bats .296 with runners in scoring position and .328 with two outs, making him a valuable player in clutch situations.
Overall, Gomes has emerged as not only a player to watch, but a player to be excited about. He is a player upon whom much of the Tribe’s future rests. He delivers when it matters, knows how to play behind the plate, and provides the excitement that the Tribe needs to not only catapult themselves into October, but into future successful seasons.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images
This Post Has One Comment
The Aviles/Gomes for Esmil Rogers deal looked like a steal for the Indians in the offseason, because they’d gotten Rogers for essentially nothing and they got two guys who could be above-replacement utility guys. The fact that Gomes has played like he has this year behind the plate makes that deal one of Antonetti’s best ever. I don’t expect him to repeat this year based on his minor league numbers, but if he comes even close, he’s a huge asset to this team and a real reason to be optimistic about the future.