Red Sox fans are going to love Jonny Gomes; there’s absolutely no question about that.
He says all the right things, has a passion for the game, hits home runs, and never takes off his jersey at the end of the game unless it has dirt on it. He’s your stereotypical Boston fan favorite. However, there’s a flaw in Gomes’ game in that he can’t hit right-handed pitching, which is, you know, kind of important in this league.
For his career, Gomes is a .223/.307/.425 hitter against righties, with a .284/.382/.512 line against lefties. The numbers, overall, are pretty drastic. But his overall career numbers weren’t as drastic as the splits from last season with the Oakland A’s when Gomes tuned up left-handed pitching to a .299/.413/.461 line, while struggling mightily against right-handed pitching, hitting .209/.324/.391 for the year.
Gomes’ .715 OPS against right-handed pitching ranked 203rd in the MLB among batters with at least 100 plate appearances. However, when facing off against lefties, Gomes’ .974 OPS was 11th of 134 players in the MLB with at least 150 plate appearances.
To put things in perspective, Gomes hit lefties better than American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, runner-up Mike Trout, and let’s even throw Albert Pujols’ name in there for good measure. Gomes was better than all of them. But his batting average against right-handed pitching in 2012 ranked 350 out of 398 players with at least 100 plate appearances, which means that 88% of the entire MLB was better than Gomes against right-handed pitching.
The Red Sox need to find an outfielder who can hit right-handed pitching, because the numbers speak for themselves. When there’s a lefty on the mound, Gomes is your man. But for the majority of the time when there isn’t, the Red Sox need to have an alternative option on the bench to hit right-handed pitching.