For the Mariners Rookie of the Year portion of the midseason awards, the choice seems reasonably obvious. Ben Gamel has anchored the top of the order, and factor in his torrid June, and it seems like a clean-cut pick.
Though he was not selected to the AL All Star team as a starer or an alternate, Gamel has been a monster for the Mariners. With a 1.4 WAR, a .323 BA, and 29 RBIs there’s no denying he’s had a phenomenal season at the dish. He currently sits 6th in the AL in batting average (though the AL leader is fellow Mariner Jean Segura).
His success extends to the field as well. If you look back to the May series with Philadelphia, Ben Gamel made one of the best defensive plays of the year. This was the game where the Mariners trailed by four runs twice, but rallied from both deficits, and with the game tied at 9 in the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies had the bases loaded with just one out.
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Maikel Franco slapped a line drive to right field, and Gamel tracked it down for the second out. The problem was, it was deep enough that the Phillies would send the go-ahead runner Daniel Nava from third. Gamel uncorked a bullet from right field that was right on line to nail the runner at home and preserve the scoreless inning. The Mariners would go on to win 10-9, and the win was made possible by Gamel’s defense.
From May 28 to June 30, Gamel hit .402 with two homers and 13 RBIs. He posted an OPS of .973, and was seemingly robbed of AL Player of the Month honors when they awarded Aaron Judge the title.
In all, Gamel has had a fantastic year for the Mariners and has been a very pleasant surprise. As good as Mitch Haniger has been for the M’s, he had to take some time off, and slumped a little in his return. I think he’ll wind up great and we may even need to talk about a different team ROY come September, but for the midseason award, Ben Gamel takes this one.