Jonny Gomes is off to a great start in 2011. He's showing selectivity and power at the plate, ranking among the league leaders in walks and home runs. His home run rate should cause him to eclipse his previous season high of 21.
Gomes's selectivity isn't so much strike zone judgement as it is pitch judgement. Great hitters talk about getting one good pitch per plate appearance, and that's the one they want to attack. In the past, Gomes swung at most pitches in the strike zone:
Although he swung at strikes, his power zones were limited:
This season, Gomes seems to be looking for pitches up in the zone:
That turns out to be a great place to power the ball:
By selecting pitches he can hit hard, Gomes increases his slugging percentage. That also helps his walks in two ways. Pitchers are more careful throwing to him, and umpires see that Gomes defines his own strike zone well. If he can keep this up, Gomes could have a monster year.