Yan Gomes is in a bad slump at the plate

Jason Miller

Half his game started slow, but has turned around. Now the other half is a problem though.

Yan Gomes came sort of from nowhere last season to be one of the best players in baseball once he was getting regular playing time. He had a great batting line of .294/.345/.481, and he played some of the best defense of any catcher in the league, with strong pitch framing scores, many baserunners thrown out, and few miscues.

It made sense to think his offense would decline, but it seemed like his defense really might be elite (catcher defense tends to be fairly stable). Way back around Thanksgiving I ran through a series of numbers and projected a .272/.330/.441 line from him this season. That's not as good as he'd been in 2013, but it was still well above average because of the power, and with elite defense behind the plate, a line like that would make him one of the 30-40 best position players in baseball.

Six weeks into the season, Yan was batting .269/.313/.487. His walk rate had decline instead of showing the small improvement I expected, but his power had gotten even better, which I did not foresee.

But, while he was hitting better than I expected, his defense was a complete mess, as he'd already made a league "leading" 9 errors, three times as many as he'd made in more twice as many innings behind the plate last season. Some figured it had to do with his wife being pregnant with their first child, others thought it a sign that 2013 had been a fluke. Another segment of fans believed he was pressing as a response to his new contract extension.

In the last month though, everything has turned around.

Gomes hasn't made an error during that time, or allowed any passed balls, and his defense is once again rated among the very best at the position in baseball.

His bat though, has gone the other direction. Over the last month he's hitting just .244/.306/.300. That's only a little better than the awful numbers Carlos Santana had during his brutal six-week slump earlier this season. The batting average is lower than you'd like, and his walk rate is actually improved, but Yan's power has almost completely vanished. In that month he's hit only one home run and two doubles.

His batted ball profile doesn't look dramatically different, his BABIP has been a healthy .309, his strikeout rate isn't way up...

I don't see anything that jumps out as a red flag, and (as I did with Santana) I expect Gomes will snap out of it. Given that prior to last season though, no one really expected him to be an above average MLB hitter, this slump is at least somewhat worrisome. His true ability is certainly above his .606 OPS from the last month, but it's also certainly below the .826 figure he posted last season. The question is, which figure is closer to what we should expect?

His overall OPS this season is .716, which conveniently splits the difference between last season and this last month exactly in half. That's a little worse than I expected this year, but it still puts him a little better than average as an MLB hitter, and if that's the hitter he is going forward, I think I'd take it.

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