Gam-ing Left Field in 2017


Dr. D had missed Sunday's memo.  It notified us that Ben Gamel is the Opening Day left fielder.  Compared to Andrew McCutchen, getting this news is not unlike finding the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks:  you expected them to spend 1c or 2c and find out they actually spent, quite literally 1/20th of one cent.


1) Ben Gamel is a AAA Player of the Year

2) Danny Valencia is here precisely so that Jerry Dipoto has the option of trading for an impact corner outfielder

3) The Mariners have, in fact, discussed a trade for Andrew McCutchen

Here's the Nov. 20th MLB Trade Rumors article that established all of the above.  Feeding the circa-1972 cards into the Mainframe from last to first?  What happened with McCutchen was, Dipoto called in good faith, and the Pirates responded "If you start with James Paxton and we can find top quality to add to that, we might be able to talk."  Whereupon "the talks went nowhere" and Dipoto cast his snake eyes about the AL landscape for other prey, always while waiting on the Pirates to come to their senses. 

Or, that's what it says here.


Danny Valencia, it turns out, is a high-maintenance metaphor for --- > a 100m runner's starting blocks, as Dipoto tears down the track in search of a better left fielder than Ben Gamel.


But, all that said, there IS the possibility of Gamel going out there and playing well.  His career paths from here:

  • UP:  Brett Gardner, Ken Griffey Sr., Charlie Blackmon
  • MID:  Decent starter, 2-3 WAR, for $500K/year -- in 2018 after a year's lost cause like Marte -- nice cheap asset who slipped through the Yankee cracks because of a glut in the corners
  • LO:  .260/.310/.360 and a complete waste of time, per the Seattle blog-o-sphere's #1 minors authority

Here is the Sept. 1st SSI article on Gamel.  The best stuff is in the comments threads.  

Gamel is very strong LH-on-LH, is VERY fun to watch going around the bases, will definitely get his team "soft skills" WAR going 1B-to-3B and playing corner OF.  However, Gordon rolls his eyes at a corner OF with no HR or BB, and who got his AAA awards mostly because he's got a shipload of minors AB's in the rear-view mirror.


You could compare Gamels' statlines to a lot of guys.  There are guys who did more in the minors and turned out to be Stefen Romero.  There are guys who did less and turned out to be Brett Gardner:

.260/.340/.330 in AAA at age 23 with an 0.70! ISO = Brett Gardner

.300/.360/.470 in AAA at age 23 = Ben Gamel

But you're not going to be able to solve the Ben Gamel question with stats.  Gamel's performance record could easily turn out to be those of a fringe player, or his stats could turn out in hindsight to be those of a minor star. It is simply a GM's judgment as to whether Gamel has a "special" ability to see major league pitches and to square the ball up, and therefore jell as a 100-110 OPS+ player who stealths you up 4 WAR per season.  Dipoto thinks he might well do that, but also thinks he'd rather not bet that direction.

Keep in mind that Ben Gamel would "delta" against Nori Aoki in 2016.


What would Dr. D do?  Ben Gamel is a whale of a lot more of an explosive athlete than I expected him to be -- rounding 2B on a triple he looks like Byron Buxton.  His swing is sudden and torquey and has a dynamite little weight sink to it as he launches.  He's got a mean attitude, at least in terms of his body language.  He's got results.  As a Brett Gardner hopeful I like him better than the next guy, just like as a Jay Buhner hopeful I like Tyler O'Neill better than the next guy.

Gamel has got that "It" to him, on a first impression! now, that leaves us wanting to see what's next.  But in this org he's unlikely to get a Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley type of grace period to prove it.


Dr D



The Other Billy Zoom's picture

Ain't no prime rib.  No turkey.  No pork anything.

On the hot stove we see the top covered with a John Morosi recipe.  Did he get that from his grandmother?  From the M's? Buc's? MC Clutches agent?

I wanna know why this tidbit from ex-Seattleite Morosi popped up now.

It sure didn't take long to flog the blogs all over the place.

Gamel and Valencia allow the M's all kinds of versatility, or, at least possible versus utility.

DePoet got a deal on Gamel as the New Yorks were clogged with outfielders.

Now the GM sees an opportunity to give up Tie Juan and anywhere from one to four of their top four prospects, to three low level prospects, or straight across for MC Clutch.

Thee seems to be a lot of range to opinions.

But, with only a couple weeks til the winter meets, a post-prandial dessert that I am now drooling over (this has morphed from one Walker, Vogelsbach, Marte and a lower level arm ... for MC Clutch and Watson from the Bucs).

We've only got a couple more years of Felix, Cano, and Cruz ... a recent AllStar and a lefty out of the pen certainly helps with the holes.

Giving up Walker means Karns is the most likely suspect, or, they could deal Smith for a back end starter.

If they don't get Cozart (or some other SS), then O'Malley makes the most of it.

And, this is not some long term project for the Bucs who won't have to wait forever to get immediate help  ... and 3 of the guys they get from us are all on their 25 man.  They get big salary relief ($14, MC Clutch and $6 for Watson) and Pittsville is always bent on salary (and then there is their division foes and....).

So, I'm back to it.  Why the Morosi tidbit now?

If he was just shooting some jet fuel into the hot stove to singe some eyebrows he certainly accomplished that.

And ... Gamel remains at the major league table and covers a Smith departure.



I'll decline that big helping of McCutchen, thank you.  I'm not sending Walker/Vogs/Marte for2 years of McCutchen and 70 innings of LH RP (because he's an FA next year).

It's arguable if their guy is worth Walker, straight up.  Anything more than that is a fleece job.

Heck, LA will probably give you Puig (once they sign Cespedes) for a couple of farm boys.  He might hit better next year than McCutchen.  


In 2015 Gamel had 52 XB hits in the IL.  That was tied for 2nd.  The only guy who had more (58)?  

Why, that's Taylor Motter!!  Atta boy, DiPoto!!  

OK, in '16 Gamel only had 37 XB's (Motter had 30).

I am really confident Gamel will patrol LF for us just fine....CF when Martin sits.  He's a glovey dude.  And I'm confident he will hit the ball, too.

He hits lefties really well (.820 and .825 the past two seasons), runs a K rate of about 18% in AAA, and does enough of everything to be just fine for the M's.  He's not great anywhere.....but not weak anywhere either.  

He's kind of Boog Powell on steroids.  Wait......Maybe he's Boog Powell not on steroids.  

Something like that.

I like him. 


Because if he was playing Leonys Martin's position that would be tenable. This is one of those times I want to be wrong (unlike all those other times I was high on guys we traded, or worse the ones we kept who failed).  

Gamel has a 28.9% career XBH rate. Jeremy Reed had a 29.9% minor league rate. That's the sort of player I see when I look at Gamel. When you say, "starting left-fielder and CF sub Ben Gamel" I hear "Faceplant McFacerton Jeremy Reed." Maybe those are just the scars of 16 years of abominable prospect failures across multiple regimes, I dunno.

As you say, Brett Gardner had worse power, and if Gamel keeps anything like his standard line when he gets full-time action in the bigs he's a hero. Chone Figgins did that: .275/ .350/ .385 in the minors and .275/ .350 /.365 in the majors. It can absolutely be done, and Gamel has some things for Edgar to work with.  Some of his swing does remind me of Randy Winn, who also took a while to get adjusted and became a decent piece for many years in the bigs.  That would be my hope.

Once again of course we're betting that it'll be done instead of hoping. Who doesn't want to risk next year's contention on a kid with a couple cups of coffee who hits the ball 103 feet in the air and isn't a fan of walks?

This is the same basic conversation we had on Marte last year. I hope this argument goes better for the Mariners than that one did. The off-season is far from over, though.  DiPoto has to have 5 more marginal trades for us just waiting in the wings - and of course a June promotion of O'Neill.  Let's just try not to blow the season before then, yeah?


So I went back at took a look at the International League all the way back to 2004.  Was looking for LHB's who had a season, in their early 20's, at or about  .300-.360-.450, like our guy has done in two seasons.  He did it for a longer period of time/edge Gamel, I suppose.

There aren't a lot of guys who fit the bill, really.  The high end guys were Grady Sizemore and Jacoby Ellsbury.  Sizemore did it in the IL at age 21 and Ellsbury was 23 but Slugged only .380.  Gardner walked 120 pts at 24, so I discounted him.  Blackmon's 835 AAA PA's were in the hitter friendly PCL.  He was .309-.384-.493.  Blackmon is a .727 guy, outside of Colorado, in the bigs.  Ellsbury is .760.  Sizemore was .806.

I can see Blackmon (Away) type of numbers for our guy.

The mid guys in my list were Alejandro De Aza and Ryan Sweeney.  Both matched Gamel well in the IL.  De Aza is a .260-.330-.400 MLB bat. Topped out at 105 OPS+.  Sweeney is .275-.330-.380.  Topped out at 100 fulltime (basically 3 times) and 110 part time. 

I could easily see a De Aza-Sweeney .270-.330-.400 year out of Gamel.  That's low end Aoki, 100 OPS+, with a really nice COF glove.

Dom Brown (MLB:  .246-.305-.405/95 OPS+ ) was another mid guy.

Low guys I found were Chris Carter (the other one) (.263-.316-.374/87),  Ryan Kalish (.245-.297-.349/75), Chris Duffy (.263-.323-.352/77) and Alex Presley .253-.295-.382/87)

High end:  Sizemore/Ellsbury  110-115 OPS+

Mid range: .725 OPS, like De Aza, and a 100 OPS with a great glove in LF.  De Aza was a 2 WAR bat for 3 years running.  Add a + glove and you get to near 3 WAR for our guy.  Like Doc said.

Low end:  .260-.310-.370...almost exactly as Doc pegged it.

Dang that Doc.  He's clever.

So I looked at 10 guys.  4 were busts with the bat.  But I like our guy because he did it over two seasons in AAA.  De Aza did it for two seasons at 25/26.  Sweeney did it for two seasons at 21/22.  Sweeney was at .733 & .755 in his first two MLB seasons, both fulltime.  De Aza was .760 & .728, fulltime, seasons 1 and 2. 

So I'll give Gamel a 20% shot at being high end, 50% at mid range, 30% at the low end.

He's a free 70% shot at a decent to better big league LF. 

Cleveland just went to the WS with LHB Lonnie Chisenhall in a COF spot. Career .263-.311-.414 in the bigs.  .286-.328-.439 this year.  In his 725 career International League PA's (never more than 292 in one season) he was .295-.360-.479.   That's sort of nose to nose with our guy.

There you go.  Your mileage may vary.

Electrokrakenjr's picture

Guillermo hit at every level last year, with that .350 obp in the majors. He's at least on par with gamel in the legs and defense departments (probably better) and just hit well in the afl. Plus he's got the best plate skills of just about any outfielder in the system.


I nearly added at the end of my post above, that if you figure Heredia is a 70% shot at a 100 OPS then between the two, you're looking

at a 91% chance.

If they are both 60% shots, then we've got the odds 4 to 1 in our favor. 

I would love to add Fowler or a RH basher in RF, switching out Smith, but I'm not worried about LF.

Actually, I'm not too worried about RF, if O'Neill is sooon to Safeco.

Electrokrakenjr's picture

I do. I like them both. The way I see it is to start, I think they should have Vogelbach try and hit the lefties. Clogging up the roster with more and more platoons is kinda silly at this point. Now you take Valencia and make him the everyday (or almost everyday) right fielder, have Heredia, Martin, and Gamel 3 to make 2 between center and left, and trade Seth Smith for JJ hardy. He'll give you the same defense Cozart would, maybe a bit less with the stick, and he shouldn't cost much more than smith plus a low level guy. Hes also not the injury concern Cozart is. The O's are lookin for left handed outfielders, and if they trade Hardy they can slide Machado back over to short, which would make him the games best shortstop pretty much instantly, then sign sign Justin Turner, since they would become the team with the biggest need at the position. Not a huge fan of making the o's good but I'd rather trade Smith for Hardy then Gohara for Cozart. Valencia, Shaffer, Smith and Heredia don't all fit on the same roster. Also as an interesting side note Taylor Motter tuned up lefties to a 186 wrc+ with a 14% bb... is 28 abs.


Hardy costs us $7M, or so...after any trade. I"m not sure the M's just don't look at having both Smith AND a SS (FA, perhaps) for their $14M.

I agree that Vogs may not need a platoon.  He won't BA lefties to death, but he will BB and HR enough to be just fine.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.