Paul Daugherty has a column today on Jonny Gomes’ new-found patience at the plate:
A symptom of battling is making pitchers throw lots of pitches. For the moment, Jonny Gomes, of all people, personifies that battling.
He says itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not afraid of being platooned again. When you spend six years in the majors battling for a job and a place on the lineup card every day, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a little insecure and very much into instant gratification. That translates into going to the plate and hacking.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a platoon player, you live for today,” he explained. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you work the count to 3-2 and he throws a ball three inches outside, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re swinging, because a walk isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to get you in the lineup the following day. A homer? Good chance.”
I guess this is kind of the American version of the Latin player adage that “you can’t walk off the island”?
Often, the best pitch he sees in an at-bat is the first one. And yet, making pitchers work is beneficial to the whole team. As Gomes says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you have a 10-pitch at-bat, it possibly takes a whole inning off a starter.”
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easier to do when you know youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re playing every day. Now that Gomes is armed with that belief, he has instantly become a more patient hitter. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everybody canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hit with two strikes,” Baker said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everybody doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how to get deep in the count. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s acquired.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“JonnyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s evolving. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s turning more into a hitter instead of a slugger.”
Gomes will say that hitter has always been there. A little every-day security has allowed him to come out. Gomes is a bright guy, so he sees the irony in his situation, too. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve tried to swing my way to this opportunity,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In reality, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve almost walked my way to this opportunity.”
Evolving? I hope so, but it doesn’t happen very often, players don’t usually learn to be more selective at the major league level.
Know what they say about sooner or later, players usually revert to the numbers on the back of their baseball card? Gomes career OBP is .332 with (other than his rookie year) it hovering in the .320-.330 range.
The other thing being overlooked is that his slugging is astronomically higher than his career numbers: .696 presently versus .466 for his career. This also is part of his fast start.
Has Gomes approach at the plate changed or is he just having a hot month (his OBP/SLG last May was .420/.636)? Only time will tell.