The five months between the World Series and the beginning of Spring Training are the most difficult of the year for baseball fans. December 31 marked the halfway point of this dark time, meaning we are now on the homestretch to finally hearing the familiar crack of the bat and seeing the Tribe return to the field once again.
With March approaching quickly, it is time to look ahead and speculate on what will happen over the course of the 2015 season. Let us first take a look at Yan Gomes, one of the most important pieces to this Indians team.
Here are my three bold predictions for the Tribe’s starting catcher for 2015:
1. 15 in ’15? (Part 1)
Gomes committed 14 errors in 2014, tops among AL catchers. Accuracy on throwing out would-be base stealers was an issue in the early months of the season. Despite this, the Brazilian still managed to throw out 31 runners, good for a 32% caught stealing percentage on the year. These numbers ranked second and fifth in the AL, respectively, earning Gomes a Gold Glove finalist nod. I attribute the errors to a young Gomes pressing a little too much at the beginning of the season, trying to be perfect with every throw. There was pressure to perform in his first full-time season as the Tribe’s starting catcher, as well as pressure to earn his long-term contract he signed with the club before the season began.
In 2015, I look for Gomes to be more relaxed and confident behind the plate, building on his first full-time season behind the dish. It is no secret that Gomes has an absolute cannon for an arm. He will have an opportunity to fine tune his mechanics this off-season, which will lead to more consistent accuracy on his throws, which will lead to more unhappy base runners and more postseason awards.
Bold Prediction #1: Yan Gomes will have 5 errors in 2015 and will win his first Gold Glove.
2. 15 in ’15? (Part 2)
Gomes took the starting catching job away from Carlos Santana before the 2014 season because of his strong arm, not his bat. However, the catcher was second on the team with 21 home runs in 2014 and third on the team in both batting average (.278) and RBIs (74). Gomes gave Francona the most consistent right-handed bat in a lineup filled with lefties. The question still remains if this type of productivity will be sustainable over Gomes’ career.
In 2015, I look for pitchers to pay more attention to Gomes and attack the catcher with more off-speed pitches, which Gomes struggled with over the course of 2014. I still expect Gomes to be an important contributor in the middle of the Indians’ lineup, but I think his offensive numbers will drop slightly in 2015.
Bold Prediction #2: Yan Gomes will finish 2015 with .260BA/15HR/70RBI.
3. Top 10
The Yanimal has been praised for his ability to call a game and help his pitching staff perform at their maximum potential (See Corey Kluber). It does make it pretty easy to call a game when you have a young pitching staff with electric stuff. And that is exactly what the Indians have going into the 2015 season.
In 2015, I look for Gomes to come into his own and With Gomes behind the dish, the young pitchers on the Tribe roster will excel, leading to my final bold prediction.
Bold Prediction #3: Yan Gomes will lead the Tribe pitching staff to a Top 10 rotation in the MLB.
2014 was a coming out party for both Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley. Those two names are now known all throughout the league as two of the best young players in the game. 2015 could be the “Year of Yan”, with Gomes becoming a household name around the country by the time 2015 comes to a close.