By: Jeff Nelson
Around this time last year one of Ruben Amaro Jr.’s main offseason priorities was to upgrade a bench that struggled mightily down the stretch and was later exposed in the World Series loss to the Yankees. About a month later during the winter meetings, Amaro signed the reigning 2009 pinch-hit-leader Ross Gload to a two-year $2.6MM deal, which ironically was the exact amount of his option that the Marlins declined weeks earlier.
In 2010 Gload saw very limited playing time in the field, manning the outfield corners at times and platooning with Cody “give me back my son” Ransom at first when Ryan Howard missed time with a sprained ankle in early August. With all the talent at Charlie’s disposal on a daily basis Gload’s value derives mainly from his bat off the bench, not his glove. It also doesn’t take a disciple of the UZR gospel to realize the shortcomings of Gload’s defense. Certainly he’s one of the last options if not the last option as a defensive replacement late in games.
There may have been a few people who expected Gload to be among the league leaders in pinch hits for a second consecutive season (here’s lookin’ at you, Rube), but I guarantee you nobody forecasted an increase in power for a 34-year old career backup. Gload may have hit the same six homers as he did in 2009, but he did so in almost 100-less at bats. I can’t put my finger on exactly why this happened, but put a gun to my head and my best guess was the move from the spacious Pro Player Stadium in South Beach to the hitter-friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park. Look even further into the numbers and Gload hit five of his six HRs at home, while posting a robust .529 SLG% at home compared to .431 on the road. In fact, Gload hasn’t hit for this much power since his White Sox days at U.S. Cellular Field.
Gload’s stats stem from a very small sample size, however he’s still a capable backup and a valuable hitter off the bench (if you don’t believe me, compare his numbers against righties to those of the $11.5MM starting left fielder). He proved Rube’s hunch was right and was worth every penny and then some of last year’s $1MM salary. The only downside last year was not being able to avoid a stint on the DL with a hamstring strain late in the season.
Even though Gload’s average was up a tick from the past two years, his BABIP was down from his career average. Moving forward to next year those two stats probably cancel out and Gload should put up relatively similar numbers provided he can stay healthy.
JEFF’S GRADE: 7.6/10
NICK’S GRADE: 7.2/10 Gload gave Charlie Manuel a solid option off the bench at a reasonable price. With solid career numbers it is a reasonable assumption that he can put up the same kind of season next year.
KIERAN’S GRADE: 7.4/10 I liked Gload coming off the bench. Even with the small sample size, I don’t think his numbers change given more opportunities. He is a solid option for ole Charlie.