"Nothing currently seems special about this Mariners team."
The TNT has a good piece on the Mariners' crowded outfield, and exactly what Servais intends to do about it.
Playing time in the outfield is a premium commodity since Mitch Haniger returned last Sunday from the disabled list and reclaimed his job in right field after missing nearly seven weeks. Club officials view Haniger as a cornerstone of their future, and his performance to date, though still a small sample size, continues to validate that view.
When Haniger suffered a strained right oblique muscle on April 25 in Detroit, the Mariners plugged in Ben Gamel, who quickly established himself as a lineup fixture.
Juicy tidbit. Scott Servais brought up the idea of Ben Gamel getting time at 1B in the long term. That's intriguing on a lot of levels, first of all what it says about the M's evaluation of Gamel, a speed type of corner outfielder. ... wait! We see Gamel played some 1B in the game Friday. (Didn't see the game myself.)
"Nothing currently seems special about this Mariners team."
Over his last 28 Days, Gamel has hit .391-.427-.483. He's hot, it goes without saying.
But is he AL Player of the Month hot (if we were talking about a single month's worth of games)? Turns out he isn't. Oh, his Avg. and OBP. get him there, but PotM's have to hit homers, usually lots of them. Gamel hasn't hit one in the last 28 days.
I went back and looked at the past 25 years of AL Players of the Month award winners; only twice since May of '93 has a player won that award with less then 4 HR's in the month. Joe Mauer did it with 1 HR (.452-.528-.624) in June of '06 and Pudge Rodriguez hit 3 in June of '04 (.500-.542-.733).
But the very interesting thing is that in the 4 months immediately prior to May of '93 EACH winner hit fewer than 4 HR's.
April '93: John Olerud (3)
Sept. '92: Frank Thomas (2)
August'92: Edgar Martinez (3)
July '92: Edgar Martinez (3)
And in April of '92, Robbie Alomar did it with 3, HR's as well. So it happened 5 times in one calendar year, then twice in 25 years.
Before April of '92, you have to go all the way back to Paul Molitor, who did it with 2 HR's in April of '89.
Before '89, guys like Carney Lansford, Scott Fletcher, Wade Boggs, Alan Trammel, Lou Whitaker, Rod Carew (x5), Hal MacRae, George Brett, Ron LeFlore, Robin Yount and Al Kaline were PotM's, with less than 4 HR's. April of '74 is the 1st PotM award, that I can find at B-R) for the AL. The NL went back further. The only guys in the AL to ever win the PotM Award with ZERO homers in a month were Willie Wilson (Sept. '81) and Alfredo Griffin (Sept. '79).
By my best count, 20 AL players have won the Player of the Month Award for a month in which they hit less than 4 HR's. Of those 20, 10 are in the Hall of Fame: Rodriguez (will be this summer), Thomas, Alomar, Molitor, Boggs, Trammel, Carew, Brett, Yount and Kaline.
Edgar should be. 'Nuff said.
Joe Mauer has a MVP, 3 GG's, 5 Silver Sluggers, 3 batting titles, 51 WAR and a .307-.390-.444 career line. He will get HoF votes. A lot of them. Considering that he won all his awards as a catcher, he might just get in. Led the league in OBP twice, once in Slugging (Edgar never did that) and once in OPS. He's a 50/50 bet.
Lou Whitaker was a 5x All Star, a 4x Silver Slugger at 2B, a 3x GG'er and worth 75 WAR over his career. Cano has been worth 64 over his career. Whitaker has one more GG and one less SS than Robbie. There is a strong argument that Sweet Lou belongs in the Hall.
Olerud was a .295-.398-.465 CAREER hitter. He's not quite a HOF'er (maybe, see below), but he was terrific. 58 WAR playing 1B.
Carney Lansford? DaddyO remembers him. Doc and G, too. He won a batting title and was a 120 OPS type of player, over his 9 or 10 mid-career years.
Hal McRae? .290-.351-.454 for his career. Only 28 WAR, because he spent so much time as a DH, but he was a heck of a hitter.
Scott Fletcher? Who he? A good glove IF with a total of 34 HR's and 32 WAR for his career. What's he doing on this list?
Ron LeFlore twice led the league in SB's (topping out at 97) and was a decent CF. Only 1 All Star appearance for him, so he's an outlier on this list, too. But he was a pretty good player for a number of years. Over a 4 year span, '76-'80, he hit .316, .325, .297, .300.
Wilson won a GG in CF, two SS's and a batting title. From '79-'82 he hit .315, .326, .303, .332 and then hit .301 in '84. He led the league in SB's once, and in 3B's FIVE times. In his prime, Willie Wilson was a superb ballplayer.
Alfredo Griffin was a RoY, has 3 World Series rings and a SS GG. But over a long career he was only worth 3 WAR. I am surprised at that. Fletcher, never regarded as a player of Griffin's caliber, has 32 in his career. Such is the regard that comes with those WS rings.
Anyway, I found out that you basically can't win the PotM with 0 HR's, and unless you're bound for the Hall (or can sniff it from where you finish) you almost can't win it with less than 4 HR's. 20 guys have done it, 10 are HoF'ers and 4 more (Edgar, Cano, Mauer, Whitaker) should be in or are border-line. 1 more, Olerud, can just faintly smell the HoF from his neighborhood. You can argue that he had as good a career as Billy Williams and Jim Rice, better than Tony Perez. In fact, this article does: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/john-oleruds-hall-of-fame-case/
That WOULD make 15/20. 75%.
Weird, no? I find it really weird.
So assuming Gamel has had a 0 HR, but still a PotM-type of the last 28 days (really, he hasn't), then he is bound for glory or he's Ron LeFlore*. And even that's dang good.
*Your mileage may vary.
His BABIP is .462 on the year. FOUR SIXTY TWO. Edgar had a .335 BABIP for his career with .340-.380 in some prime years. Ichiro is running a .340 career BABIP but like Gar was routinely higher than that in his prime.
If Ben Gamel is going to run a .330 BABIP for his career he'll be an OUTSTANDING hitter - but nobody runs .400+. Everything he's hitting falls in, and he's not even reducing his chances for fielders to find those gapperss by hitting it out of that park occasionally. I can't tell how good Gamel is because I have no idea what he's like as a normalized hitter. There's no way for pitchers to attack him right now because he's knobbing singles and flaring doubles in every game.
I like his speed, but the utter absence of home run power even with his modified swing means he's going to have to have the spray-it-around-the-park skill to keep his value high. His ISO is exactly in line with career norms, but his average is 80-ish points higher than I'd expected.
Right now his line drive percentage is 28.5% (league average is a tick over 20%). He's continued to spray the field pretty evenly (30+% to each third of the field) meaning he can't be shifted against (unlike Seager, who is always at 40+% to his pull side and 25% oppo). Those are patterns that are incredibly good for Gamel - but can he keep it up as those balls inevitably find gloves and his balls-in-play numbers come back to earth, or will he change his approach or his success areas?
Like you said, moe, hitting like this for a month gives him a chance to plant a flag on that low-homer-but-high-impact hill that all those players you listed staked their careers out on. I still haven't bought in that he's that kind of player yet, but he can fall a long way and still be valuable at a glove position. Of course right now he's not playing a glove position, being staked out in right field. As long as he doesn't change his approach to justify a corner position like RF or even 1B in spot starts, maybe he really can last.
Just keep doing what you're doing, Ben - don't change anything.
Carney Lansford. Indeed I remember him. One of the most exciting seasons of my life was rooting for the Angels of 1979. One of the many things that helped change the Angels from pretenders into their first ever playoff team was 21-year-old prospect Carney Lansford quickly establishing himself at third base in 1978 and following it up with a tough as nails sophomore season. His numbers weren't gaudy, but if ever there was a "dirt dog" it was Carney Lansford. He blossomed in Boston and Oakland, but he cut his teeth inc California.
That 1979 Angels positional lineup was studded with name players. Rod Carew at 2B, Don Baylor and Joe Rudi as corner OFers-DH, and Bobby Grich at 2B to start with, all imports.
Young Lansford at third next to a past-his-prime Bert Campaneris. A breakout season by Brian Downing at C, plus solid spear-carrier Dan Ford in RF, the fleet Rick Miller in CF. Merv Rettenmund available to PH.
Cup o' coffee for young infielder Dickie Thon. Last hurrahs for Willie Davis and Ralph Garr.
First ever Angels' playoff games. After they dropped the first two in Baltimore, they came home on a Friday night for their first home playoff game. I camped out overnight in the Angel stadium parking lot with some friends to get tickets. Given it's importance, it may have been the most exciting game I ever attended, a miracle win with the game-winning, tenth-inning single delivered by a nobody, Larry Harlow. That inning and it's climax took place in the midst of a pandemonious stadium such as I have never seen before or since. Truly, I feared that the concrete pilings of the stadium were going to collapse. Sometimes I'm given to fish stories, but this is not one of them.
Carney Lansford? Do I remember him? Oh YEAH!
Dillon Overton has been claimed off waivers by the Padres.
Dipoto's method of spaghetti aqcuisition is fine, as long as he doesn't pay too much for his spaghetti. He tends to let a lot of it go for nothing, so it really needs to cost very little to get in the first place.