Since being called up ahead of a July 17th game against the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays rookie outfielder Anthony Gose hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire. In fact, he’s collected outs in 74% of his plate appearances. That’s resulted in what’s known around the industry as an Omar Vizquelian on base percentage.

Making matters worse is his absolutely vacant power. In addition to non-existent isolated power numbers (because he has yet to garner an extra base hit in 31 plate appearances), the 21-year old, left-handed batter (and I use the term loosely) is slugging a minuscule .214. Combined with a .258 on base percentage, that’s good enough for a .472 OPS.

However, we take these numbers with a grain of salt, because on top of coming from a rather small sample size, Gose is young and without much of a reputation as a hitter. Despite these acceptable awful outcomes, General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has been impressed with Gose’s approach at the plate, according to a recent radio interview, as transcribed by the lovely and talented Andrew Stoeten, over at DJF.

I think overall the quality of his at-bats has been outstanding. He doesn’t chase, he works the count. I think there’s times from a mechanical standpoint where he’s a little bit late getting his hands going or getting his foot down– I think that’s why you might see him swing through some balls. But I’m very encouraged– I know the numbers aren’t there, but I’m very encouraged about the quality of his at-bats.

Anthopoulos is correct in one sense. Gose has seen 4.16 pitches per plate appearance. That’s way above the league average, and not that far off of the pace set by the league leaders who typically see an average of 4.3 to 4.5 pitches every time they step up to the plate.

However, the high pitch count isn’t the result of Gose taking pitches. In fact, he’s swung at 52% of the pitches he’s seen compared to the league average of 46%. You may be thinking that because of his rookie status and reputation as an undeveloped hitter, Gose is more likely to be challenged with pitches in the zone. While that might sound like a reasonable suggestion, the truth is that the average MLB batter gets about 49% of his pitches in the zone, while Gose has seen 51% in his short career. That’s not enough of a difference to really matter, and it’s easily counter balanced by the fact that he’s been swinging at 32% of the pitches he’s seen outside the zone, compared to the league average of 29%.

So, on the whole, we can say that Gose has had poor plate discipline, and simultaneously suggest that maybe his proven ability to drive the ball into the ground (85.7% ground ball rate) is leading to more foul balls than normal, and therefore more pitches per plate appearance. In fact, Gose might be better off just not swinging at anything ever or only bunting.

Not only does his 17.1% swinging strike rate compare horribly to the 9.0% league average, but even when Gose does make contact, the ball goes nowhere. For the balls that he’s put in play, Gose has hit a dozen grounders, two line drives and zero fly balls. The farthest he’s managed to hit a baseball at this point in his young career is one that rolled 300 feet from home plate.

Typically, we’d expect a high batting average for balls in play from a player with Gose’s skill set, because his speed will sometimes allow him to beat out throws to first base. But while his .313 BABIP might confirm this suspicion, a look at the spray chart above suggests that luck has a lot to do with the majority of hits he’s collected, as they roll past infielders and into the outfield.

Further fueling the idea that Gose needs a lot more development before he can be considered Major League ready is his handling of off speed pitches, or more specifically change ups. It’s one thing to be aggressive at the plate, and if you’re a better hitter than Gose, it might be justifiable to be so, but the batter’s problems aren’t so easily attributed to his wanting to prove himself or, as we already established, his facing a whole lot more pitches in the zone than is typical.

Put plainly and simply, Gose is getting fooled.

He’s seen a change up from a pitcher 14 times since being called up, he’s swung 13 times. This is the one that he didn’t swing at:

Here are the thirteen that he did swing at:

Of those 13 change ups he swung at, he whiffed on eight of them, sent four into foul territory, and put one in play:

It resulted in a ground out to the pitcher.

So, this is why Anthopoulos’ comments are a little bit concerning: Gose clearly needs more time to develop, and with Jose Bautista set to come off the Disabled List in a short matter of time, there’s really no reason to have him up in the Majors struggling to hit pitches as a 21-year old. In fact, such a strategy sounds a little reminiscent of the development path of a recently made former member of the Toronto Blue Jays currently plying his trade in Pittsburgh.

This is all regardless of whether or not the team still believes it’s in competition for a Wild Card spot. Gose swinging and missing or swinging and rolling the ball into the infield does nothing to help the team or himself. If Toronto doesn’t send Gose back down for another month of Triple A baseball, as soon as they possibly can, they’re making a very similar mistake all over again.

Comments (56)

  1. AA was probably exagerrating when he was talking about how much they’re impressed with Gose’s approach.

    Enjoyed the breakdown, good analysis.

  2. Bang on analysis Parkes.

    Why call up Gose? he obviously is not ready offensively, and his defensive value is a lot less in RF than in CF. Why start his service time? Why not find some scrub that you can get for a bag of balls (Is Adam Loewen available?).

    I have no problem with starting a service clock if the player is MLB ready and is going to provide better than replacement value, since Rogers does have the resources to sign all star players long term. But is Gose even providing close to replacement value?

    • -0.2 fWAR and rWAR

    • I agree… especially with how this season is playing out – bring in a guy like Matsui or Abreu that can just eat up a bunch of innings in the OF until Bautista can get back. Don’t kill the kids when you don’t have to.

    • Loewen is in the Mets system somewhere, but 3-time Blue Jay DeWayne Wise is available!

  3. Gose has a double actually, so he has one XBH, but still, yuck.

  4. Spot on analysis. Kid can’t hit yet. But what was AA gonna do? Shit all over him?

  5. Eerily eerily similar to old #45′s development. Early, age wise, call up coupled with a not exactly knocking on the door performance in the minors.

  6. its cool, leave him up for a while then send him down.

    next year bring him up for 200 ab’s then send him down
    year after that same thing

    in 3 or 4 years, we’ll be able to turn this guy in a middle reliever easy

  7. Meh. Studying these 31 plate appearances like the Zapruder film is useless. Just an attempt to say look at how smart I am, I know numbers and can make pretty charts. Figure crunching fanboyism at its worst.

    • Well it’s pretty apparent you haven’t watched a single one of Gose’s at bats, otherwise you wouldn’t be spewing utter horseshit like this. Watch the guy at the plate, stats or otherwise its pretty fucking apparent he’s being over-matched. Sarcastic assholism at its worst,

      • I’m the one spewing utter horseshit, right. If Gose was OPSing 1.200 in 31 plate appearances, we’d be hearing small sample size until our ears were bleeding. But he’s not and as it fits into the usual narrative of being the smartest fucking guys in the room we get these definitive conclusions of over-matched, can’t do it, reluctant to even call him a batter, 8 more seasons in AAA, blah, blah, blah. Parkes doesn’t even have Gose’s stats right. I’d hate to see what Parkes would have been writing after Robin Ventura’s first 41 at bats.

        • I’m with CCPD.

          FrankTheCat, whose eyes are we to trust more? Yours, which say he’s overmatched? Or AA’s, who says he’s had good at-bats? I’m not saying either is right, I’m just saying that you, sir, are the one spewing horseshit.

          • Right, because AA would never say a good thing about an extremely young prospect, he traded for, that he just called up. Keep drinking the Kool Aid.

            I’m not saying Gose will never be good but come the fuck on. We just went through the exact same situation with Snider who was called up at age 20, for the last 5 years. Tell me why Gose is here right now and being touted the front runner to be the left fielder next year, because AA’s comments suggest he is.

    • The thing is, we’re not looking at just numbers. We’re looking at the dynamics of those numbers. I’d agree that if we just looked at his wOBA and said he sucked after 31 PAs it would be wrong, but if we look at what he’s been doing in those 31 PAs to explain why he’s sucked, it’s a different territory. The same would hold true if he was hitting nothing but Joey Votto line drives. Except, I’d be writing a post about how great he is, and how the need to give him the full-time job.

      • It’s still just 31, no way you can get around that no matter what metrics you’re using.

        • You’re missing the point altogether. The point is that AA said they were good at bats and Parkes is saying that they really weren’t. Nobody is trying to predict his future performance from these at bats. More just trying to analyze the few at bats he has had, and to point out that they haven’t been as good as AA suggested. Sample size doesn’t really come into play for that.

          Besides, you don’t need all the stats to tell Gose can’t hit yet. You can tell just by watching him that he’s over-matched. He hacks at lousy pitches and when he makes contact it’s weak as hell. If the results were mediocre you could call sample size on it, but they’re flat out bad.

      • This just in… young players struggle when coming to the bigs. While I don’t necessarily think that calling him up is the best idea, I don’t see it as the worst either to get him major league experience in a non-contending season. Let him struggle and then hope he can adjust to the level. If not now, then after taking the offseason to review and correct. Kind of like what Mike Trout did last year (yeah, that’s right, I dropped a Mike Trout… What of it?)

  8. Good post! Gose sucks! I blame the chain.

  9. Good post and frankly it needed to be said. Gose has not only performed poorly statistically but doesn’t “look” like he has a clue up there and his swing looks quite long and loopy for a speed guy. That said, his closest “ceiling” comp, Kenny Lofton also often “looked” ugly (off balance etc.) up there but his swing path was much shorter and he kept his hands inside the ball so he could adjust to different pitches and put them in play to use his speed. It sucks that Vegas skews the numbers so much so we don’t really have much to go on in terms of comps for our AAA prospects. Further, because the elevation in many PCL parks dampens offspeed pitch movement I believe it really hampers our prospect development as it pertains to hitting MLB type (ie. crazy) offspeed stuff.

  10. I said it earlier this year and I believe it even more now. Gose needs to spend the rest of this year in AAA and all of next year in AAA too. Also, hopefully, the Jays will have a new AAA affiliation in a less hitter-friendly ballpark next year too so he can learn to hit the breaking pitches better. IMO, he would be better served by then being re-evaluated in Spring Training 2014.

  11. yeah it’s been like a whole 2 minutes…wtf can’t he hit yet?

  12. Equally worry is AA’s whittering on about Gose ‘having a good attitude’ and having the extraordinary insight to notice that he ‘sucked’. If you’re making judgements based on attitude and not on stats, we have a problem.

    The similarity between Gose and Snider is maybe not that great. With Snider, nothing he ever did ever seemed to be evidence enough to give him a decent chance, while with Gose, are we seeing the opposite – AA refusing to see the inability of his picks to deliver on what he expects and reading potential into misread stats. It’s kind of a messed up father treating the delinquent child as the family favourite.

    Way too early of course to jump to any such conclusions, and buggered if I know what I’m talking about, anyway.

    • I am in no way trying to argue that either Travis Snider or Anthony Gose have been handled properly, however I believe that both players have been treated about the same by the organization throughout the early parts of their career, albeit by two separate GM’s.

      When Snider was 20 he was rushed through the system to AAA after only 2 seasons in the minors, and only 61 at bats in AA. In late August he was brought up the majors for a cup of coffee.

      At the age of 21, Gose was brought up to AAA (in Vegas, which is in an easier hitting league than Snider’s Syracuse was). He was also called up to the Blue Jays at the end of July.

      When you look at it that way, Snider was rushed faster (or given more chances, depending on how you choose to look at it) than Gose has been. He was called up to a tougher AAA league after less AA at bats, and then called up to the majors, all while being 1 year younger than Gose currently is.

      Say what you want about the Jays tendency to rush hitting prospects, but Snider was not treated as badly (at the start of his career) than Gose is now.

  13. Seriously? At Getting Blanked we’re doing statistical analysis of a player who currently has 31 plate appearances? What happened to needing a decent sample size?

    As a young, new player, it makes sense that he’s where he’s at, especially since there’s such a small sample size. There’s really no major conclusions that can be made.

    This was an embarrassing fluff piece fishing for Blue Jay related hits.

    • Where did anyone suggest it’s a surprise he is where he’s at. It says right in the article that it makes no sense having a 21 year old up here struggling to hit major league pitching, which fucking implies its not surprising he is struggling, because he is only 21.

      Regardless of whether he was hitting well, or not hitting well under a larger sample size, or whether you think this small sample size is bullshit is all irrelevant. He shouldnt be here right now.

    • See my previous comment. We’re not looking at merely numbers, we’re looking at what’s causing those numbers. There’s a big difference.

  14. Small sample size, small sample sample size.

  15. Give the kid a chance. He will figure it out!

    –Oshawa Ollie

  16. It is not like he is hitting worse than anyone else in the lineup

  17. You’re insulting our intelligence by pretending any comparison to league average is relevant at all. The kid has seen 130 pitches (!) that’s beyond small sample size, it’s so small in fact that you should be using real numbers for context.

    “it’s easily counter balanced by the fact that he’s been swinging at 32% of the pitches he’s seen outside the zone, compared to the league average of 29%.”

    That difference equates to four whole pitches, for a player seeing 4 pitches an at-bat with 500 at bats that rate is appropriate and certainly significant because it represents chasing 60 pitches more than an average hitter. Four though? That could be a bad game, first two at bats against a guy with a big league strike to ball pitch.

    For a kid who’s never seen major league pitching in his life. I’m not trying to defend him, I’m just saying it’s completely masturbatory to try and break down his numbers compared to league average at this point.

    This post seems to be attempting to point out the hokum that Anthopolous is propagandizing about Gose but it seems you’re just trying to sew seeds of dissent, it’s akin to an intellectual version of the Sun and it’s insulting.

  18. What’s wrong with him getting his 50 ABs while Bautista is on DL, going back down til September, then getting another 50 in September? These 100 ABs should help him and Blue Jay coaches know what to have him work on in off-season

  19. Wow people are dumb. Sample size is relevant when you’re trying to determine the true talent level of a player and predict their future performance. That is in no way, shape, or form the point of this article.

    AA said these 31 at bats were good. Parkes is saying these 31 at bats were, upon a closer look, not good. That’s it!

    Neither of them is saying Gose will or won’t be a successful major league hitter because it is obviously way too small a sample size for predictive purposes. They’re just quibbling over whether or not these 31 at bats have been “good”. They have not.

    Parkes 1
    AA 0
    Canadian education system -1000 (reading comprehension!)

  20. My question is why this piece of analysis, which is directly Blue Jay Related and even stems from an Anthopolous Speaks! post Stoeten did over there, isn’t posted at DJF? Traffic-whoring Mr. Moros- I mean Parkes?

  21. of the 13 change ups he did swing at, only three were outside the strike zone. You can’t call it “chasing” if the pitch is a strike. If he is missing the changeup then he is being fooled by the velocity, but he is seeing the ball well enough to recognize strike or ball.

    When will al the Travis Snider fanboys just admit the fact that Snider had several opportunites to show he can play. Sure he was brought up early, and I hope the Jays learn from that, but how long into someone’s career are you going to play the “promoted too soon” card.

    Anthony Gose is obviously not ready, I don’t think anybody is pretending that he is. The only reason he is here is because Bautista is injured. AA saying he is encouraged isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement. Would you rather he go on air and say “Gose is playing like shit, we really F%^*ed up by bringing him up” what would that do to GOse confidence and development going forward?

    You shit on people all the time for citing stats with very small sample sizes and now you are using 2 weeks of major league play from a rookie.

    Sounds like it was slow day, and you guys are still crying that Snider isn’t a blue jay anymore. Get over it

    • Thank you for making my point. No where in there do I write that he’s chasing. I wrote that he’s getting fooled. My point is that it’s not aggressiveness, it’s not being able to read change up.

      This is a little bit frustrating to repeat, but there’s a difference between statistics and dynamics. I’m sorry that this is difficult to grasp. When you look at a small sample of statistics, and you see evidence of a lacking approach, such as I’m trying to illustrate … all by the way, to negate something that the GM said about him … then, it’s worth writing about.

      I’d also remind you that Gose was called up before both Snider and Sierra.

      • I definitely understand where you’re coming from, but I think part of the reason that change-ups fool him so much is that he’s never been exposed to the quality of them that you only see in the majors. Minor league pitchers have a much harder time throwing truly deceptive change-ups for strikes. Because of this, I really don’t think that more minor league seasoning is going to help him all that much, specifically where it relates to reading quality change-ups.

      • The Jays were apparently close to making a deal for a starter at the trade deadline. Deal fell through at noon. We can all speculate and suggest that it could have been Garza (medicals?) or Dempster (10-5 rights vetoing deal). Quite possible that Gose was a centerpiece to any deal which is why they called him up before Snider or Sierra.

        Everything we heard about Gose is true, his hit tool needs development. He does have some gap power, but one cannot actualize power without making consistent contact. Right now, he is simply being overmatched by MLB pitching.

        AA loves his confidence and Gose has shown an ability to overcome adversity in the past when graduating to a new level. Gose is a fucking toolshed who needs to learn how to hit. Nothing wrong with giving him a taste of MLB pitching to evaluate his progress.

  22. Perhaps you could conduct a similar analysis of how great Travis Snider’s 50 plate appearances have been this season, and how his ability to recognize the change up so well has led him to have among the lowest strike out rates and highest wOBAs in the MLB. You could show how his HR/FB rate and his BABIP show how he’s been so unlucky with his ability to hit, and will likely lead to even better numbers. You could look at Snider’s ability not to chase out of the zone (relative to league average), and how good he is at waiting for his pitch, rather than swinging at a high frequency.

    Or perhaps you can’t write any of that because none of it is true, and the only way to say that we shouldn’t place too much weight in the lunchbox hero’s stats is that it’s a small sample size, and we should be more patient with him. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I can’t say that my view of Snider’s plate appearances showed a command of pitches, and reflect an ability to hit very well at all.

    Maybe he has been rushed to the majors, and maybe AA is as responsible for this as JPR was, but the fact is that Snider was not proving himself to be the talented big league player we all expected him to be. Moving on, Gose is the next potential outfielder of value in the Jays’ system. Perhaps he’s being mistreated, as Snider was, and perhaps this is a failure by AA. But to be surprised that Anthopoulos isn’t exaclty throwing him under the bus seems odd to me. What would you expect him to say?

  23. I believe Travis now has three hits in two games for the Pirates. MVP I suppose. Do we have charts for Travis the Pirate? Maybe we should just focus on “dynamics”. Obviously Travis’s approach is massively improved over the last 72 hrs. or so. Looks like we traded him just slightly too early. As for Gose, he’s done and should be sent straight to hell for being called up ahead of Travis the wonderkid. This stigma will forever haunt him as a Jay. Trade bait!

  24. Breaking news: the change up is a swing and miss pitch.

    With respect to chart 2, 10 of the 13 were in the zone. Better to stand and watch? How many were with 2 strikes?

    Your “dynamics” argument is some weak ass sauce, Parkes. Wow, he swung at 10 pitches that would have been called strikes. Nobel Prize for Parkes.

    • I understand how reading comprehension is difficult for some, but maybe if you read it again … this time, slower, you’ll begin to understand that the fact that they were strikes and he thought they were fastballs, swung at them and missed is what I’m suggesting is evidence that he hasn’t developed enough to be taking Major League at bats. Yes, it’s better to stand and watch than swing and miss, but it’s best to identify a change up coming at you in the first place … something that Gose clearly isn’t doing.

      • I read it more slowly, I sounded out the big words and you’re right, you can definitely tell after 31 plate appearances that someone is not a major leaguer., especially when they swing at pitches in the strike zone and even more especially when they miss pitches that 98% of other major leaguers also miss. It even sounds right when you say it out loud. You are a genius, Parkes. Credit to you for sticking to your fucked up guns. Dynamics is the wave of the future. I can’t wait until you’re modeling after one plate appearance, hell, maybe even one pitch.

        • Are you sure you read it slow enough, cause Parkes isn’t saying he will never be a major leaguer, he is saying that he isn’t ready right now. He should get a little more time in the minors so that he can develop his pitch recognition skills, learn to identify the change up, and sit on it instead of swinging through it cause he thought it was a fastball.

          Christ, I know you guys love to bust Parkes’ balls, but seriously you can do that without putting words in his mouth.

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