1) Excellent article by USSM on Ben Gamel's launch angle. They give his 2016 launch angle as 4 degrees, and this year's as 12 degrees.
2) This meets the eye test. The Mainframe signs off on the wonderful 2017 launch angles. Well, those are a matter of record. What we mean is, we sign off on the fact that Gamel's batted balls have been dangerous for enemy pitchers' BABIP's.
It's true that his batting line is based on a .450 BABIP, but it's also true that if he keeps hitting this good, 8+ of his next 20 batted balls are going to land him on base somewhere. (Check out his soft hit rate, LrKrBoi29. Don't be standing on anything unstable when you click the link.)
Also, G-Money signs off on the veracity of the previously lousy launch angles, which is good enough for us.
The first week, Dr. D fretted that the line drives were in the air mainly because --- > Gamel had gotten half-a-dozen Back Leg Specials down into the RF corner. (When you have lots of time to do what you want to do, you pull the ball hard in the air.) But! We've all seen Gamel rip 15-degree fly balls to RIGHT center and to Center, including a screaming meemie Sunday with Kevin Pillar, of all people, couldn't get back to straight over his head.
3) The Mariners, as you know, spend a lot more time analyzing "launch angles" than we do. Yet Scott Servais, asked about Gamel two days ago, gave a different opinion. He said that Gamel is probably one of those players who is a better MAJOR league player than minor league player. One of the first guys for whom we noticed this syndrome was Rusty Greer - remember him? 4 homers a year in the PCL and then 20 a year in Texas.
Dr. D preaches the existence of this kind of player -- maybe 2%, 4% of the ML population. Servais referred to the better lighting, better umping, more predictable pitching ... "PROVIDED you've got the right swing to start with."
It doesn't work that way in track and field. Or in swimming. There's no such thing as a track guy whose "style" suits the Olympics better than it does NCAA. But I'm here to tell you that Dominique Wilkins leaped two plateaus the moment he stepped on an NBA court :- ) Or in Euro soccer it is taken for granted that one player's skill set will match one league's style better than his skill set will match another league's style.
4) If Ben Gamel is one of these players, we are in Tallll Cotton, kiddies. As was the case with Best Bet Mitch Haniger, you've got a player who doesn't even NEED to rake to collect 3, even 4 WAR. In case you were wondering, Gamel has 1.0 WAR so far this season, in 16 games, a tenth of a season. ... one of yer all-time great 17-and-20 teams, ain't it ...
5) Gamel has walked 12 times (!!) in that 10% of a season. His fish rate is a miniscule 17% and dropping by the day. His OBP is .446. Even if he were hitting into outs you would expect a line like .270/.400/.475.
He absolutely refuses to swing at anything outside the zone, and once it's in the zone, he COVERS it. I do NOT know what he is GOING to be, but what he HAS been for 16 games is one of the best hitters I've seen.
6) For me (at this point, having peeked at the answer key!) it's not hard to visualize Gamel as a .280 hitter with 60+ walks (.360 OBP or even more) and lots of pop. IFF he did that he would clock 4 WAR routinely. I dunno about Johnny Damon comps or not, because Damon was a light, fast player (with no arm, e.g.) and Gamel is more an MMA type. But I can certainly jibe with the Caveman persona. Damon wasn't the friendly kind of Caveman who wove reeds together to make baskets to help the clan; Damon was the kind of Caveman who wandered the tundra with a sharp club, seeking to do others harm. I approve of Gamel's on-field persona.
Right now we're going with Bamel, not Gamer. He needs to quit missing leadoff men and stuff like that to get the Gamer rolling.
7) I'd be interested to know Moe Dawg's opinion of this front-arm swing he uses. Gamel seems to let go with his top hand even earlier than Frank Thomas. ... Gordon do you know if he was using a Charlie Lau (Manny, ARod, Pujols) swing in previous seasons?