With the loss of Prince Fielder to free agency this season, a large void at first base has been opened for former top prospect Mat Gamel. Throughout his prior tenure with the Brewers, Gamel was stuck behind Fielder at first base and struggled too mightily defensively at third base to be considered an everyday starter at the hot corner. But now, it’s Gamel’s time to shine.
Expect Gamel to hit the lower-middle of the lineup, especially now with Ryan Braun back in the order and hitting third. His left handed power bat will be utilized by Roenicke to “clean up” the remnants of the damage wrecked by Braun, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Aramis Ramirez, much like the role Hart has played in the previous two seasons in the fifth and sixth slots in the order.
Gamel’s mechanics have been significantly simplified since his first stint of significant playing time in the Big Leagues in 2009. In 141 at bats that season, he hit .242 with 5 homers, 6 doubles, and 20 RBI. His eye at the plate and pitch selection will be key to his success in 2012. It’s difficult to read too much into Gamel’s career stats with Milwaukee; each of his stints at the Major League level have been brief.
The California surfer look-alike has been given the vote of confidence from Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. The job, for now, is his to lose. Hopefully, Gamel can fix his defensive woes that plagued him at third base in the past. It doesn’t require much defensively to be an upgrade from Fielder at first base, after all. Nobody by any means is asking him to become the next Prince Fielder, but a good season would take away a majority of the pressure burdened on him.
Mat Gamel Season Prediction: .259, 22 HR, 72 RBI, .331 OBP, 0.0 dWAR, a whole lotta chew