In this new series here at CST, we will be individually previewing each projected starting player on the 2015 Cleveland Indians’ team, culminating with a full season preview in mid-March. Now batting: catcher Yan Gomes
2014 Stats: .278 AVG, 21 HR, 74 RBI, 25 2B, .472 SLG, 61 R
After being traded from the Blue Jays to the Indians along with Mike Aviles at the beginning of the 2013 season, Gomes split time between the Tribe and our Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers. The Brazilian catcher (the first of his nationality in the MLB) showed himself as a MLB-caliber talent and proceeded to be promoted to the full-time starting catcher in 2014.
At 27 years old, Gomes flourished this past season both behind the plate and at bat. He played a total of 1028 innings and only allowed 6 passed balls. That equals about one passed ball per every twenty games. He also displayed a fielding percentage of .988, which is a huge boost to the Indians defense. Not to forget his caught stealing percentage of 32% last season, a digit that’s 4.8% above the league average. To summarize, Gomes’ defensive play is huge for the Indians.
At bat, Gomes was also able to hit as one of the best catchers in the game. His .476 slugging since 2013 is number one among all catchers in the MLB, ahead of even the likes of Buster Posey. Gomes was able to show balance between extra base hits (49) and singles (86) and had an on base percentage upwards of .310. He was the 3rd best in the league for catchers in home runs, 2nd for RBI, and 1st in runs.
2014 provided Gomes with an entire MLB season in which he broke out as a great everyday player for the Indians and looks to be reaching his prime.
Spring training is a mere exercise for Yan Gomes, as he’s nothing short of a full-season lock for the start (excluding the possibility of injury). Gomes is getting his stroke back through game-like situations and should be back where he left off last season.
In spring training, the catcher has batted .262, including 3 doubles and 2 homers.
On March 31, 2014, the Indians signed Yan Gomes to a 6-year contract extension worth 23 million dollars, and, if his production from last season is any indication, it was a great move.
Not just financially, Gomes’ talent was a great thing to invest in. His health is not a concern, as he’s made it in the pros without an injury so far. Also, he’s had a year to get to know his pitchers. Gomes was ranked as the 56th best player in the league right now according to MLB.com, and this season he should prove to be even better. Look for these numbers this year:
.289 AVG, 26 HR, 89 RBI, 22 2B, .488 SLG, 72 R
Gomes could potentially have a career season this year, and the success of the Tribe is slightly dependent on the play behind the plate. Capitalizing on a huge season last year could result in a very high .200’s BA, and if his slugging remains up his HR numbers will rise as well. All of this is achievable with a very small drop in strikeouts (Gomes had 120 last season).
The catcher will also dominate behind the plate this year. Knowing the pitchers and their style of play will help his pitch calls and play on the ball. However, steal percentage may be looking to decrease. With a young Jose Ramirez at SS and Jason Kipnis returning from a down year, it’ll be interesting to see how Gomes’ numbers are affected by whom he throws to.
Regardless of the rest of the team’s play, Yan Gomes looks like a player capable of proving himself to the league this year. His undeniable talent should come in handy in helping the team, and to see him representing us at the All-Star Game is a possibility. If nothing wild happens, Brazil may finally have a standout in the MLB, and Cleveland may have one too.
–Max Alter, @CST_Max