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Saturday, 11 May 2013 04:36

How The Red Sox Are Using Jonny Gomes

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It was easy to see the train of thought that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington took this offseason. The American League has long been a conference that has boasted good hitting, and combated with equally good pitching. With this knowledge in toe, the Sox built their 2013 model around the ability to match up favorably against right and left handed pitching. A byproduct of this bigger thought process was the signing of Jonny Gomes. Gomes has long been thought of as strictly a platoon player and his career splits support that notion. In  1472 at bats against right handed pitching Gomes has a slash of .222/.307/.421. To contrast, in  961 at bats left handed pitching Gomes slash is .282/.383/.512.   Granted he had far more at bats against righties but those number are "black and white" enough to make fans skeptical of Gomes as an every day player.  But with the emergence of Daniel Nava, Gomes' role has dwindled- perhaps for the better. As we have already saw, Gomes historically mashes lefties. Accordingly 12 of Gomes' 17 starts this season have come vs. left handed pitching. Gomes has found himself to be a mainstay in the, what I like to call the Red Sox Righty Gauntlet. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Gomes is that he's defied his own history so far this year. His platoon splits vs right handed pitching and right handed pitching are very similar: vs. RHP: 36 PA, 6 H, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 8 K; .200/.306/.233 Vs LHP: 36 PA, 6 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI,  9 BB, 8 K; .222/.417/.519 Now that a clear platoon has been set between Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava, we will see Gomes' numbers skew in favor of batting against lefties. But Gomes, albeit for a short period of time, did have success against right handers as well as lefties. This may be more of a testament to how well Gomes is seeing the ball than any newfound hitting approach he's discovered. Notably, Gomes drew 8 walks a piece from the left and right side, and has averaged 4.91 pitches per plate appearance. Patience has been quite possibly the biggest breath of fresh air from the normally free swinging Jonny Gomes. A more patient approach, as well as a reliable platoon parter has made Jonny Gomes a valuable asset to the Red Sox. Nava will obviously get more opportunities to play because right handed pitching tends to outweigh left handed. But putting Gomes bat into the middle of the makes the Red Sox "Righty Gauntlet" gives some thunder, as well as patience, to the line up. As odd as it sounds now that Gomes will play less, his full potential can be reached. Gomes is at his best when he pops in and out of the lineup and matches up against lefties. For the Sox, they'll want to follow that trend if they want to get the most out of Gomes.