Bruised, beaten, tattered, torn. Mat Gamel has been thrown around as a potential masher for years now, and has been hanging out in Triple-A since late 2008. Which, with some Swiss-cheese logic, might mean he’s a crappy nobody worthy of nothing like fantasy consideration.
Gamel, a third baseman who can fill in at first, has been blocked by Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee in past years, but now will fill the glaring first base void in Milwaukee. A close look at his Triple-A numbers and projections will clearly paint him as an enticing sleeper.
At-bats – 493 Games – 128 Homers – 28 Runs – 90 RBIs – 98 Average – .310 BABIP – .326 Homers/162 GP – 35 Runs/162 GP – 113 RBIs/162 GP – 124
So, where’s the knock, you may ask? This kid looks ready to mash! Not so quick, some say. He has 171 unimpressive major league at-bats to his name, which seem to play heavily into the general perception of Gamel as a bust. His line of .222/.309/.374 is by no means impressive, but writing off a player based on such a sample size is foolish… even when the elephant in the room is a 34.5 percent strikeout rate.
His first go-round at Triple-A brought up legitimate strikeout concerns; players who have K rates above 25 percent in the minors usually fade to obscurity and rarely crack the majors. He tamed his rate with more exposure, though, and his second Triple-A appearance—this one in 2010 for 82 games—saw a much more reasonable rate trimmed by exactly 10 percent. Last year, the mark fell to a (dare I say) impressive 15.4 percent rate.
Always evident in the minors was his tendency to take the walk. Gamel, like fellow minor-league success story Paul Goldschmidt, mixes high walk rates with disconcerting strikeout rates. When they go hand in hand, the strikeouts are less threatening to one’s career prospects. A nugget of optimism: Gamel’s small sample size walk rate is 10.3 percent.
What can be gleaned from his brief cameos in the majors? His five home runs, supported by a normal 10.6 home run to fly-ball rate, extrapolate to 17 homers in the majors. Bill James has Gamel down for 19 round-trippers, and I could be coerced into taking the over.