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A deeper look at Yan Gomes

Emergence of Gomes has the Indians in an enviable situation at catcher

A deeper look at Yan Gomes
October 5, 2013
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As the Indians season comes to an end, they find themselves in an enviable position when it comes to their depth at catcher.

Coming into this season the Indians seemed to be set for the foreseeable future behind the plate with the heavy hitting Carlos Santana.  This was enough to make most fans comfortable; with a capable backup like Lou Marson the tribe seemed to be in good shape at one of the most important positions on the diamond.

Then, without warning, Yan Gomes happened.

By now Indians fans know all about Gomes, the catcher/ utility guy who came to the Indians last offseason as what seemed to be a throw-in in the Esmil Rogers trade with Toronto.  Coming into the season, Yan was an afterthought, a guy who was battling to make the opening day roster and searching for a home in the field.  The Indians saw something they liked in Gomes behind the plate and shortly into the season he settled in as the Indians backup catcher.

It did not take long for Gomes to impress the coaches, front office and fans, earning the bulk of the time behind the plate for the Tribe by the end of the season.  Gomes, the first Brazilian player in the Major Leagues, enjoyed a successful season to the tune of a .294/.345/.481 slash line to go along with solid defense behind the plate and a stellar 41% caught stealing percentage.

How valuable was Gomes to the Indians this year?  According to FanGraphs he accumulated a 3.7 WAR, good enough for 7th among all catchers in the major leagues.  Despite having played in only 88 games this season, Gomes was one of the most valuable players on the Indians roster and one of the most valuable catchers in the game.  He contributed to the Indians in every way imaginable, hitting for average (.294/.345) and power (11 HR, 18 2B, 38 RBI), playing good defense, controlling the running game and handling the pitching staff admirably.

Defensively, it has been well documented how exceptionally Gomes threw, but he was also very strong defensively in ways that went unnoticed.  Gomes was an elite pitch framer in 2013, meaning he was able to “steal” more strike calls for his pitchers, a skill that proves very valuable in the scope of a long season.  Of catchers with at least 6000 chances, Gomes had the 4th highest rate of extra called strikes per game in the league.  His 1.5 extra strikes per game were behind only Jonathon Lucroy, Jose Molina, and Chris Stewart (ahead of Yadier MolinaBuster Poseyand Russell Martin).

Perhaps the most valuable thing Gomes was able to provide the Indians was a chance to play Carlos Santana in other positions.  Santana played in 154 games in 2013, 11 more than he did as the primary catcher in 2012.  Having Santana’s bat in the lineup and with less wear and tear is extremely valuable, as is keeping his suspect glove out of the catcher’s position.

As a defensive catcher Santana ranked 22nd in 2013 in pitch framing; he actually cost his pitchers -.65 strikes per game.  He also does not throw nearly as well as Gomes, retiring only 18% of would be base stealers in 2013.  The Indians ability to allow Santana to do what he does well (hit) and avoid what he does poorly (catch) was extremely important to the success of the team as a whole and would not have been possible without the emergence of Yan Gomes.

Gomes was able to accomplish all of this at only 25 years old, and his ability to hit, hit with power, field and throw make him a rare gem behind the plate. It leaves much to be excited about as he enters his “prime years” without becoming a free agent until 2019.  

Gomes fast rise raises some questions about the sustainability of his success, but his young age allows for some optimism that the Gomes we saw in 2013 could be around for many years to come.  For a team that looks to be competitive for the immediate future, a good catching situation is crucial. The Indians seem to have found a diamond in the rough with Yan Gomes and are now in an even more enviable position behind the plate for the foreseeable future.

User Comments

October 7, 2013 - 10:02 AM EDT
You forgot Cody Allen...

Agree we need better drafts though (hopefully some of the recent ones work out).
October 6, 2013 - 11:04 AM EDT
If I'm not mistaken the only players the Indians drafted that contributed anything at the big league level this year were Kipnis (a lot), Chisenhall (a little), and Pestano (almost nothing).

It appears the recent drafts have been better (Lindon, Frazier, and a couple of others that are doing well on the farm). They better be because it's getting harder to get guys like Cabrera, Choo, and McAllister for 30-something veterans on their last legs.
October 6, 2013 - 9:35 AM EDT
Of late the tribe has drafted better

Danny salazar wasnt drafted but you dont get more home grown than that. I like him. He is still raw. Kipnis was a great draft pick
October 6, 2013 - 9:33 AM EDT
Kipnis 2nd rd,chiz 29th pick 1st rd,allen,pestano20th rd, recently drafted by tribe lindor,frazier!? Too early for last too but they both look good.dont forget we got masterson,jimenez established,kluber for westbrook.choo for broussard,choo wieldedstubbs and bauer
October 6, 2013 - 2:15 AM EDT
Here we go
October 6, 2013 - 2:13 AM EDT
Hey John,

I'd have to go back in the articles but recently (less than 2 weeks ago) one of the writers here on IBI wrote the article. I'll try to look back and see if I find it, but they came to the same conclusion.
John L.
October 6, 2013 - 1:41 AM EDT
Nick, do you have a list of players that were drafted out of high school that have had successful major league careers? I once read that its a huge risk to draft high schoolers and that they usually do not pan out in the long run. I'm not challenging you i am just really interested in the topic.
October 5, 2013 - 11:57 PM EDT
Good question Rich D.

The speedy OF's like Crowe and Naquin haven't worked out well for us. We hit with Lindor but to be honest, that was one pick we couldn't have botched. So far I'm fine with the Frazier pick and the philosophy behind the pick I appreciated.

For the #1 SP's taken, I know they've gone mostly after college kids but I think a lot of studies have shown that HS kids have higher ace success rates and they haven't taken as much risk as they should. That's just my amateur opinion.
MT88 in WI
October 5, 2013 - 4:33 PM EDT
I can't call white and Pomeranz wasted picks. They might not be playing in Cleveland but that's becuz they were dealt.
Rich D
October 5, 2013 - 2:42 PM EDT
These are the kind of deals teams like the Indians have to make to stay competitive: Blake for Santana, DeRosa for C. Perez, Kearns for McAllister, E. Perez for Cabrera, and Rogers for Gomes and Aviles.

My question is if they're doing such a great job of scouting other teams' farm systems, why can't they do a decent job of scouting amateur talent? Too many first round picks wasted on guys like Mills, Crowe, Sowers, White, Pomeranz - the list goes on.

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