Last year the A’s made a surprising run to the postseason with late inning heroics and great leadership. The two leaders on the offensive side have left, i.e. Brandon Inge and Jonny Gómes. The former had an impact on the defensive side especially with the, at the time, up and coming Josh Donaldson. The latter led the offensive side including the clubhouse. His “never say die” attitude was infectious to the rest of the team and he took every at bat seriously. This usually led to some late game drama with the A’s being on the favorable side. Gómes moved onto the Red Sox this season and his absence was quietly seen but hugely felt.
With Gómes departure the A’s brought in Chris Young as an extra outfielder and the primary designated hitter this past offseason. While Young was certainly clutch at times his production was extremely low. Here is a comparison between Gómes’ 2012 and Young’s 2013:Gómes’ 2012: 333 plate appearances, .262 AVG, .377 OBP, .491 slugging. He had 18 HR and 47 RBI. Young’s 2013: 375 plate appearances, .200 AVG, .280 OBP, .379 slugging. He had 12 HR and 40 RBI.
The numbers do not tell the whole story however. Young did play above average defense while Gómes rarely saw the field.
The real difference is in the “clutch factor” and the leadership. Gómes was the point man for any disagreements or tension. He eased up the clubhouse before big games and his easygoing personality spread like a wildfire amongst the A’s roster. His at bats late in games rarely ended in strikeouts almost always resulting in runs. This is the opposite of Young who at times was clutch, but will be most known for his two missed home runs against the Astros (one a close call the other a spectacular robbing).
The Red Sox are no enjoying Gómes and his tangibles/intangibles. The World Series has given a bright spotlight to Gómes and that has shown how valuable he really is. The numbers he puts up are OK at best, but his clutch late inning at bats and his amazing leadership have made him a valuable commodity that come 2015, barring any unforeseen changes, will likely garner the aging Gómes a mutil-year deal to end his career on. The A’s certainly could have used his leadership and intangibles in the ALDS against the Tigers. Teams around the league have now seen that too.