The Cleveland Indians won 92 games and earned a Wild Card spot in 2013, and getting contributions from players who are not household names was a big key to that success. One such contributor was Yan Gomes, who hit .294 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI over 293 at-bats along with an .826 OPS (fifth-best in all of baseball among catchers with enough at-bats to qualify) while playing 85 games (79 starts) behind the plate.
After not playing a lot in May (.370, three home runs and 11 RBI in 50 plate appearances) or June (.244, one home run and six RBI over 50 plate appearances), Gomes hit .313 in July (10 games-nine starts) and then finished strongly with a .297 batting average, four home runs, 12 RBI and a .441 slugging percentage (.806 OPS) from August 1 on with regular playing time over that stretch (43 games-39 starts).
Some notable news has been made in recent days, with Indians’ catcher Carlos Santana suggesting he will be moving to third base for the coming season. Gomes is the first in line to take over as the team’s starting catcher if Santana’s position change comes to fruition and sticks, which should give fantasy baseball owners some optimism heading toward the 2014 season. But is Gomes ready to emerge?
Gomes does not have a large body of major league experience as a reference point (433 plate appearances over the last two seasons), and he did not hit for a lot of power in the minors (37 home runs in over 1,200 plate appearances). But last season’s rate of a home run for every 26.6 at-bats leaves room for improvement at his age (26), and puts 20 home runs well within reach this season with the potential for 500-plus at-bats. That would put Gomes in select company, as just six catchers hit 20 or more home runs in 2013.