While Yankees’ outfielder Aaron Judge is the runaway favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year award; Seattle Mariners’ rookie outfielder Ben Gamel is quietly building up an impressive resume himself.
The rookie outfielder started the season in Triple-A Tacoma, but was called up after only 74 plate appearances in 18 games. Ever since he was called up, Gamel has made a compelling case to play in every game; despite being in a crowded outfield that includes (but is not limited too) Jarrod Dyson, Mitch Haniger, and Guillermo Heredia. In the 54 games that he’s appeared in, 234 plate appearances, all the 25-year old right fielder has done is hit .346/.403/.409 while spreading the ball fairly equally to all parts of the ballpark — 33.8% to right field, 37% to center, and 29.2% to left; which probably explains his insanely high BABIP of .456; there is no defensive shift to counter a batter that can spray the ball equally around the field.
To illustrate how awesome Gamel is at hitting the ball to the opposite field, let us admire this dinger against Houston from last Friday.
The crazy part about his offensive performance is that Gamel is posting a wRC+ of 144 (remember, 100 is an average hitter), while earning a wOBA of .383 — weighted on base. His speed and power make him a threat to turn any line drive in the gap into a potential triple, which has made Seattle’s offensive attack more dynamic.
Game’s speed has also improved the Mariners’ defense in the corner outfield as he is able to cover a lot of ground quickly to chase down balls. One of the more well known examples of his closing speed is when he went after a foul fly ball down the left field line in Minneapolis, a couple of weeks ago, and did this.
At 25-years old, Gamel has proven to be an exciting player with a lot of speed, pop, and guts in the field. And the rookie has done it all while being hidden up in the Pacific Northwest on a team that is a couple of games back in the wildcard race — instead of the in the media glare of the first play team in New York. He should be in the discussion for AL Rookie of the Year, even if Judge is currently the favorite to win it.