Last season Jonny Gomes hit .267/.338/.541 with 20 homers in 314 plate appearances as a part-time player and the Reds non-tendered him prior to arbitration, re-signing him to a one-year, $800,000 deal with a team option for 2011.
This season Gomes hit .266/.327/.431 with 18 homers in 571 plate appearances as a full-time player, watching his OPS drop by 121 points, and general manager Walt Jocketty said yesterday that the Reds “probably will” exercise their $1.75 million to bring him back.
I’m not sure how that series of events really makes any sense, but as a right-handed hitter with a .790 career OPS and 25 homers per 500 at-bats Gomes is worth $1.75 million in 2011. He shouldn’t be an everyday player again, because his defense is awful in left field and he’s always struggled against right-handed pitching, but even for merely a platoon player and bench bat to knock around southpaws that’s a reasonable salary.
Plus, just having his hair and fashion sense on the team is likely worth a few hundred thousand bucks a year.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.