Dan Gamache went into his 2015 campaign expecting to get more playing time at both third base and second base. Going into the year, Max Moroff moved up to Double-A Altoona and took over the starting second baseman job. At third base, Eric Wood has taken the majority of the reps, moving up from Bradenton with Moroff. Unfortunately for Gamache, things haven’t quite worked out as he expected or wanted, with Moroff taking off and having a breakout year and Eric Wood starting at third base on a regular basis, pushing Gamache into a reserve role. Consequently, he has been forced to bounce around between first, second, and third base without being able to claim any as his starting position.
Gamache didn’t help himself with his performance, beginning the year on a terrible slump. He is having himself quite the Jekyll & Hyde type of season so far for the Curve. Let’s get right to the numbers so you can see what I am talking about. I broke down his stats between the first 16 games of the season and the last 26 games for obvious reasons, as you will see.
In his first 16 games of the season, Gamache batted .079, only able to accumulate three singles in 38 at bats. In five of those games, he only had one plate appearance, being relegated to a pinch-hitting role off of the bench.
In the 26 games following (from a span of May 7th to June 17th), Gamache has had a line of .402/.422/.619, showing an OPS of 1.040. In that time, his ISO of .217 is represented by two doubles, a triple, and four home runs. Also, he has found himself playing more consistently, even finding himself as the designated hitter on five different occasions.
In that span, Gamache also had a 12-game hitting, and he also tied a franchise record with a five-hit day (5-for-5) on May 25th at New Hampshire.
So what gives with Gamache? He adamantly says that he didn’t change anything in his approach or swing, rather just sticking to his regiment and plan, while not getting a ton of playing time.
“I was just trying to have good at bats all the time, stick to my plan, and not panic,” Gamache said talking about breaking out of his early season slump. “I wasn’t getting consistent at bats, but I didn’t really worry about it, because I wasn’t going away from my plan. If you try to do the same thing over and over again and beat it into the ground, it usually works out for you.”
Gamache had a great attitude through the process of his slump. He hasn’t been known for stretches of bad play, with his worst stretch being a 2-for-18 slump through eight games last season for the Curve. He stayed persistent through the process and knew if he had a bad attitude, it would have been a lot more difficult to turn things around.
Can Gamache continue to perform at this high of a level? I believe he will fall in line somewhere with his numbers last season, which saw him hitting .275 with a .825 OPS. He has a good chance at high-level performance as long as his improved strikeout rate stays where it is. He currently has a strikeout rate of 14.3% compared to 20.6% last year in Altoona.
He is bound to regress from the rate he’s been hitting recently because of a BABIP at a hefty .443 over the 26 games from May 7th through June 17th. His BABIP was .094 in his early season 3-for-38 slump. You would expect that number to be somewhere between .280 and .320, so a batting average settling anywhere in the high .200s is most likely to occur for Gamache.
Moving forward, expect Gamache to continue his role as a reserve player in Altoona, possibly providing depth to the third base position organizationally. Since he has been repeating prior success from recent years at the plate, he could find himself getting moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis as a role player if other moves or injuries occur. He also finds himself as a promotion candidate because of his age and prior experience at the Double-A level, something that Eric Wood (who is only 22 and hasn’t performed well at the plate) and Max Moroff (22 years old) don’t have. If the Pirates still want to get Adam Frazier reps from the infield as well, they may be forced to do something with Gamache. His bat has been performing well, so I think he would have a good chance at moving up to Indy by year’s end.