When you think of playoff performance, who comes to mind?
Mr. October Reggie Jackson, Bob Gibson, Oral Hershiser, Jack Morris. All baseball greats, but there are other names that don’t appear on any lists. The role players who contribute to a pennant or a World Series Championship.
Every great championship team has stars, but it’s the role players who help push a great team over the hump – and you need not look any farther than the Chicago White Sox of 2005 to see it. A team with great pitching, great hitting and fielding, but who came through in the World Series? Game 2 Scott Podsednik, Game 3 Geoff Blum, and Game 4 Wille Harris. Those guys pushed the team to a World Series.
Looking at this year’s team, a player stands out who I think could be a major piece of a World Series title. Gavin Sheets, drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2014 and didn’t sign, but was then again drafted by the White Sox in 2017 out of Wake Forest is a player who may just make a difference in the 2021 Playoffs. With the lineup hopefully being at full strength, a big left handed bat coming off the bench may just be an important role for Gavin Sheets to play.
At the time of this article, Sheets is batting .234 with 9 home runs, 26 RBI, and an OBP of .304 in just 41 games. Now some might say they have a veteran bat on the bench in Brian Goodwin. Goodwin is batting .231 with 8 home runs, 29 RBI, and an OBP of .328 in 69 games. With 5 years difference between them (Sheets at 25 and Goodwin at 30) and very similar stats, it will come down to the experience vs the power.
This is where Gavin Sheets might have the edge. Sheets has show the ability to hit in all quadrants of the strike zone. On a big stage, would the playoff lights be too much? Only playing time will tell the complete story.
His batted ball profile on Baseball Savant shows the similar batters for the 2021 season, and it might surprise some.
This season, Sheets compares to Ramon Laureano, Jonathan Villar, Mitch Moreland, Jose Abreu, and Andrew Vaughn. These are all based on quality of contact – meaning he’s in pretty good company in terms of how well he hits the ball.
Maybe Gavin Sheets will be more than just a big bat off the bench in these Playoffs – he will have every opportunity to prove himself heading into October.
I, for one, am betting on him.
Featured Photo: Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) / Twitter