By Scoring Positions Contributor, Shawn.
Since your Toronto Blue Jays recalled outfielding “phenom” Anthony Gose last week, it’s clear that some things have changed, and some things definitely haven’t.Anyone who watches any sports channel saw the clip of Gose stealing home for AAA Buffalo earlier this month, just before he was recalled. As the announcer of the game says, “the play wasn’t even close.” So no doubt Jays fans, like I did, perked up a bit when they saw that clip. It’s not often that AAA baseball gets play on national sports television, unless something extraordinary is being done.
Fast forward to Gose’s return. I have to say, his hitting looks better.
During his first stint with the big club last year, Gose’s swing looked like an incompetent swipe rather than a semi-powerful swing that may generate a base hit or two.
Now don’t get me wrong, there have been players who have made careers out of slapping at the ball. Right away, Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner, both of the New York Yankees, come to mind. Juan Pierre, one of the best slap hitters and bunters of all time, does as well. One of the best hitters of my era to use this style was, of course, Kenny Lofton – who didn’t look great at the plate, but became one of the best lead-off hitters of his generation when coupling his hitting abilities with his speed.
Gose is cut from the Lofton cloth, but something went wrong during the arts and crafts process, because he’s missing some significant fabric that Lofton had.
Gose wasn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball in Buffalo. He was hitting .227, which is an average that would be right at home with the mediocre averages (dis)gracing the Blue Jays lineup right now.
But I will say that he looks better. His hitting is much improved. He’s hitting the ball hard, so it will likely only be a matter of time until he starts finding the holes. With his speed, shots down the line, or gappers, he will turn into a good, productive asset.
What I can’t report good news on, though, is his defense. I know many tout Gose as being a defensive specialist (and of course he is a defensive upgrade from Melky Cabrera, but that’s not particularly difficult). To a certain extent, he knows what he’s doing in the outfield but he is lacking some of the fundamentals of defensive baseball.
I have never seen an outfielder collide with his fellow outfielders more than Gose. I don’t know if he’s not calling the ball, or if he’s not listening when others are calling the ball, but he’s going to kill someone out there.
The ideals behind playing an outfield position are simple. I’m not saying it’s easy to play the outfield, but the idea behind it is relatively easy: Get to the ball, throw it back into the infield.
The outfield also comes equipped with a simple hierarchy. The centre fielder is the captain, all other outfielders yield to him if there is a ball in the gap.
Gose, however, is constantly bumping into other Blue Jays outfielders, both in high and low speed situations.
This is simple baseball and it seems like something that should be easily corrected through coaching, but at this level of baseball, you’d think calling the ball in the outfield would have been mastered by now.
So, while I like the improvements I’ve seen in Gose, I still feel like he has a long way to come before he can take his place as a big league outfielder – like being something every little leaguer knows.
So whether it’s opening his ears or beefing up his vocal chords, Gose has to make a change before someone’s elbow or knee collides with someone else’s melon.
We all know that in recent years the far reaches of the Rogers Centre (the outfield, the 500 level) have become the wild west. People fight, run onto the field, puke everywhere and/or throw their beers at players. On the playing field, however, there have to be rules, and Anthony Gose needs to play by them.