In 2012 you could count the number of 20/30 players on one hand. It’s a rare breed, highlighted by some of the bigger names in baseball:
- Mike Trout
- Ryan Braun
- B.J. Upton
- Jimmy Rollins
We know te top two names are locks to be first round selections and, while the other two aren’t quite up to their level, both offer plenty of fantasy appeal (even the “declining” Jimmy Rollins, though that’s a discussion for another day). There was nearly a fifth member of this exclusive club, but one that few would guess. Carlos Gomez came up one home run shy, finishing with 19 HR and 37 SB despite getting 452 plate appearances.
The question now facing fantasy owners is if this production was a breakout, or if it was nothing more than aberration. While Gomez has consistently failed to impress, we need to remember that he was once a highly touted prospect in the New York Mets organization and a centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade. He isn’t just a bum that suddenly errupted, there could be a real possibility that he’s a late bloomer.
His speed has never been a question, stealing 33 bases back in 2008. The fact is that he simply hasn’t had the playing time to come reasonably close to that mark since that season.
It’s the power that was a surprise, though if you look at the numbers maybe it shouldn’t have been. His HR/FB has been rising each of the past four seasons:
- 2009 – 3.7%
- 2010 – 7.1%
- 2011 – 11.4%
- 2012 – 14.3%
He also has seen his fly ball rate increase over the past two seasons, posting marks of 43.8% and 43.2%. Maybe one year is an aberration, but two should indicate to us a new approach at the plate. In fact, over the past two years he has only had two months where he has posted a mark below 40%, driving the point home.
He is putting more balls in the air and, at 27-years old entering 2013, there is no reason to think that he hasn’t matured and added more strength. The bottom line is that the power could very well be for real and seeing him set a new career high and surpass 20 HR in 2013 is not unrealistic.
Of course, the problem with Gomez is always going to be his average (.247 career hitter). While more power is going to help, he boasts a career line drive ate of 16.6%. Speed or not, tha type of number is not conducive to inflated BABIP. Throw in a strikeout rate continually around 22% and his average upside looks bleak.
If he can find a way to match last seasons .260, to go along with the newfound power and his speed, no one is about to complain. However, enter the year realizing that he could just as easily produce Drew Stubbs like numbers (hitting around .230). I wouldn’t expect that, however, leading to the following projection for 2013:
.258 (116-450), 19 HR, 65 RBI, 60 R, 30 SB, .298 BABIP, .306 OBP, .442 SLG
The negatives shouldn’t be enough to deter you (we didn’t touch on the fact that his RBI/R are limited since his skillset is not conducive to hitting at the top of the lineup), especially in five-outfielder formats. Most are going to write off the power surge, so I wouldn’t expect his price tag to be too inflated at this point. Take advantage, just make sure to have a suitable replacement on the bench in case he becomes a drain on your average and the power does prove unrealistic.
What are your thoughts of Gomez? Do you think he can replicate his 2012 success? Why or why not?
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Make sure to check out all of our 2013 projections: