Deconstructing Anthony Gose

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

Anthony Gose has a .375 wOBA! What an amazing start to his Tigers career. He’s been one of the league’s best so far to date. It’s been a fun ride, but of course it won’t last. Partially because Gose isn’t a great hitter, but also because literally no one sustains a .493 BABIP for an entire season. I’m not talking about “only great hitters do it,” I’m talking about literally no one at all. It’s just not a thing that happens, so it’s worth considering what Gose will be once his BABIP becomes a regular BABIP.

Now, you might be screaming at your screen, “But he can sustain a higher BABIP because he’s fast and sprays the ball around,” and you’re partially right. We’re going to look at a range of options for Gose, none of which assume he’ll be average in that department or worse. Let’s start with some assumptions. First, let’s give Gose a 7% walk rate. That’s right around his career average and a little better than his numbers to date. Let’s also be generous and say he can produce a 25% strikeout rate, even though he’s at 30% for the year and 28% for his career. Let’s also be generous and give him credit for all of his power to date and believe in his ability to run something above an average ISO, partially thanks to his speed.

In other words, let’s say Gose is a 7 BB%, 25 K%, .150 ISO hitter for the next 450 PA. I think that’s a pretty sunny outlook across those three stats and you could definitely make them all worse more easily than you could make them better. Now let’s hold all of those things constant and look at three possible BABIP numbers, affecting only his rate of singles.

Given his profile, a .320 BABIP seems like a nice floor. He has the speed and batted ball tendencies to make that a pretty reasonable low point. He should be an above average BABIP guy, and his career mark, including this year is .330.

Now let’s say that Gose is arguably one of the best BABIP hitters in the game and has a true talent up around the Cabrera’s, Votto’s, and Trout’s of the world. A very high true talent BABIP is about .350, so let’s use that as another data point.

Finally, let’s say that Gose is going to have an elite single season BABIP. The best anyone can hope for is .390 to .400 over a single season, so let’s peg it at .390. No one can do that year in and year out, but for 500-600 PA at a time, it’s possible.

In other words, Gose could be as low as .320 or as high as .390 for this one year, but his true talent range is probably in the .320 to .350 range. Where does that leave his offensive production give the parameters we agreed to? Remember, this is rest of season wOBA.
Screenshot 2015-05-18 at 10.41.40 PM

If you think Gose is going to have a Rod Carew BABIP for the rest of the season, the best you can hope for is a .340 wOBA or so. If you think he’s going to have a Cabrera BABIP, he’s a league average hitter. If you think he’s going to come back to his career norm (albeit a short career), he’s a .300 wOBA guy. And remember, this is assuming he cuts a few strikeouts and continues to dramatically outperform his power projection. These are optimistic projections at each BABIP level, and they could be far worse if he loses a bit of that power.

I was curious what the feeling was on Gose and asked the Twitter faithful if they would go over or under .310 wOBA for the rest of the season. There were 13 votes for the under and 8 votes for the over, which is just about perfect give that his rest of season projection is somewhere in the .300 to .310 range based on ZiPS and Steamer.

There’s an obvious selection bias in that poll, in that the people who would be likely to see that tweet follow me and people who follow me are more saber-friendly than average. And also have to know what wOBA is to vote.

Anthony Gose has has put together a .375 wOBA so far his year, which has been worth something like 5-6 runs above average already. You can’t un-play those games, which is great for the Tigers, but there’s also virtually no reason to think Gose is going to be a good hitter going forward. The best projection you can sell is that maybe he winds up being an average hitter. With good wheels and some range in the outfield, that might be an average player, which is perfectly fine.

He shouldn’t hit leadoff or anything, but it’s not like he should be in AAA either. If you really believe in his power (I don’t) and that he can rein in the strikeouts a bit (I don’t), you have to believe he’s capable of sustaining an top shelf BABIP for him to be an offensive contributor. It’s not impossible, but if you’re counting on Gose to be a star based on his opening month, recognize how unlikely that truly is.

 

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