“That could be your center and left fielder next year, you don’t know,” Gibbons recently told MLB.com. “You don’t know how things will shake out.”
Sounds like we have two contestants primed for a look in this week’s edition of the deep league wire.
Anthony Gose / OF / Toronto Blue Jays
0% Yahoo / .3% ESPN / 3% CBS ownership
If you’re a deep league veteran, then it’s likely you already know Gose’s name, as his name has been synonymous with “cheap steals” since he arrived at the majors two years ago. (In fact, listing Gose in this column has become something of an annual tradition; Pod wrote about him shortly after his 2012 debut and around this time last year.) Trouble is, he’s also the owner of a career .287 wOBA and nearly 26 percent strikeout rate, and hasn’t shown the promise that once earned him a spot on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list.
But deep-league fishermen are often nothing if not optimistic, so let’s focus on the positives. With an acknowledgment that his 221 plate appearances entering Monday’s action is not a tremendous sample size (though it does mark a career high for him), Gose has cut down on his strikeouts a bit while greatly improving his walk rate to a solid 10.4%, giving him a presentable .327 on-base percentage. Also, the 24-year-old may be the victim of some bad luck, as a guy with his wheels should do better than a .309 BABIP, especially when he’s smacking nearly two out of every three balls he puts in play on the ground (or better yet, turf in the case of the Rogers Centre).
And every little bit counts, because Gose, warts and all, does deliver in the speed department. He’s 15 for 19 in steals this season, good for a 79% success rate, and although he typically hits ninth in the Blue Jays’ order, he’s followed by Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, or, in brief, the players largely responsible for the team’s .327 wOBA, good for second in the American League this year. The lack of pop and a consistent average hurts Gose’s value, no doubt, but we’re talking speed at a discount, and with regular playing time, Gose certainly offers assistance to owners in AL-only leagues.
Kevin Pillar / OF / Toronto Blue Jays
0% Yahoo / 0% ESPN / 0% CBS ownership
First things first: 0% across the board! Either this guy’s fantasy services, in a quantifiably demonstrable way, are not exactly in demand, or he recently skipped town under an assumed name to hide from a Toronto loan shark. As I don’t want to speculate, I’ll just report that a player matching his description has started in five of the team’s seven games so far this month, has leapfrogged John Mayberry Jr. as the Blue Jays’ primary left fielder on the team’s official depth chart and slashed a delectable .323/.359/.509 line in 434 Triple-A plate appearances this year, earning him a spot on the International League’s all-star team.
As you might have guessed, Pillar, 25, doesn’t have a high ceiling but has shown an ability to hit left-handed pitching, crushing a .944 OPS against southpaws in the minors and batting .281 against them in the majors so far this year (albeit in just 33 plate appearances). I’ll also point out that he swiped 27 bags while at Buffalo, though he’s yet to successfully steal one at the big league level.
Of course, if Pillar had any kind of pedigree, he’d be owned by at least somebody out there, and a high swing rate, combined with a high SwStr%, means his 18.6% strikeout rate likely is ticketed northward. He’s also yet to draw a single walk, and, like Gose, is destined to hit at the bottom of the Blue Jays’ order. But even if Pillar is relegated purely to the deepest of AL-only leagues, he’s a guy who’s hit at every minor league level who stands to earn regular playing time for the next few weeks. That’s got to be worth at least something, somewhere.
Karl, a journalist living in Washington, D.C., learned about life's disappointments by following the Mets beginning at a young age. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has contributed to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Hardball Times Annual. Follow/harass him on Twitter @Karl_de_Vries.