Monday, August 6, 2012

Anthony Gose - Jays next superstar?

Will Gose as a centerfielder be as good as Brett Lawrie at 3rd?

Brett Lawrie already is the voice of the Jays. Canadian born and bred from Langley, BC, his natural enthusiasm and dazzle at the glove, I think, is a big drawing card for young fans to the Dome. I've always believed that making Brett the "voice of the Jays" puts a bit too much pressure on him to perform well, but I think that works out well for him. His clutch RISP stats are better than the stats with men not on base. He fields exceptionally well, and he is reasonably quick around the bases. Most of all, Brett Lawrie is aggressive, to a fault. This year, we've seen him make boneheaded moves - an attempted steal of home with Bautista at bat, trying to steal third when already in scoring position, getting tossed and serving a suspension for a bad called strike, and diving over the rails into a deep camera bay. He certainly has passion for the game, and I think that will become more controlled. His batting average hasn't suffered since his debut last year. Brett hits LHP at a pace of .357/.390/.509 while hitting only .253/.302/.379 against RHP. His batting average suffered since the dive into the camera bay. Brett Lawrie was the return for the Shawn Marcum trade.

Philadelphia drafted Gose in the 2008 MLB draft in the 2nd round and immediately went into the Rookie year. Gose went to Houston with JA Happ and John Villar near the trade dealine in 2010 for Roy Oswalt to bolster the Phillies' playoff run. Immediately thereafter, Gose was dealt to Toronto for Brett Wallace.

In the minors, he quickly rose up through the ranks, spending 2008 in the Rookie league, 2009 in A ball, 2010 in Dunedin and Clearwater, 2011 in New Hampshire, and 2012 in Vegas. He never was held back. His running and fielding skills are to be prized. His batting skills, I think, are still very much a work in progress. But in Las Vegas, he batted .293 / .375 / .432 with 10 triples. He can run
With Gose in the outfield, his speed rivals or betters that of Rajai Davis. 5 of his 11 hits are infield hits, meaning that he is outrunning the ball. When Gose bats next to Davis in the batting order, the two of them on base wreaks havoc on the opposition pitching, with the double steal very much in play.

People will criticize his slow start in the majors with a .229 / .275 / .292 start through 48 plate appearances. Chalk that up to sample size, but if you look at his last 10 games, he is batting .270 / .289 / .351 (also a poor sample size), but that points at improvement. Gose is not going to hit a pile of home runs, but he is going to run really, really fast. In New Hamsphire last year, he set a record for the Fisher Cats, stealing 70 bases (getting caught 15 times)

So, I think offensively and defensively, long term, he will be  better than Rajai Davis. Defensively, he will be better. He had 14 assists with New Hampshire last year and 8 for Vegas.

He is only 21 (for four more days) and we are just seeing the start of this athlete's long career. Remember that, fandom, when making criticisms. We have to accept, for example, that as he gets used to major league timing, he will either to attempt to steal less or get caught stealing more. Indeed, in AAA, he got caught 10 times in 39 attempts. And he will make running mistakes, throwing mistakes, and it will him time to grow into a hitter. He wasn't supposed to be here until the start of next season (possibly to replace Rajai). But he is here now.

Anything can happen to this young lad, but I think his future is very very bright. Of course, Lawrie, the Canadian, will be the Jays' poster boy for the next few years - he is the embodiment of the Jays - Canadian, bold, aggressive, articulate, enthusiastic, fun to watch.  

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