Rookie outfielder Anthony Gose is the Toronto Blue Jays’ mystery man.
He’s fast — he stole 15 bases in 56 games in 2012 — but hit only .223.
If you’re that fast, you should be able to bunt your way to a .300 average. So why hasn’t Gose done this?
Former Jays’ catcher Gregg Zaun, now an analyst on their telecasts, brought up entitlement on the last Blue Jays Roundtable of the season, heard on the team’s Toronto flagship station, CJCL The Fan 590.
Young players, once they get to the big leagues, feel they’re entitled to be there, Zaun said. They don’t work on their game, and aren’t easily coachable.
The writer remembers Matty Alou, an undistinguished hitter in parts of six seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He was fast, but swung for the fences.
Once traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, manager Harry Walker convinced him his future was as a bunt and slap guy who used his speed to get on base. Walker’s advice paid off. Alou went from .231 in 1965, his last year with the Giants, to .332 in 1966 with Pittsburgh. In 1968, The Year Of The Pitcher, he finished with a .335 average.
Gose could be a modern day Alou. One more hit per week — “a gork, a grounder with eyes” (Crash Davis, “Bull Durham”) — and he’d be a .300 hitter.
But there’s entitlement, a likely factor in the abundance of mistakes the young Jays continued to make throughout the 2012 season, that led Omar Vizquel to go on the record criticizing the team’s field leadership.
The world runs on entitlement now. Baseball is only part of the whole.
But it’s a team game, and adjustments need to be made, as they were without question back in the day.
And adjustments, along with throw-catch-hit the ball, should be priority number one next spring in Florida.