Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Why Carlos Gomez Can Continue Producing Like A Top 10 Outfielder In 2014

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There was a time when Carlos Gomez was considered a major bust. Hyped as a top prospect coming up through the Mets’ system, he failed to produce in New York and Minnesota (after being a featured piece of the Johan Santana trade). Even in Milwaukee things started off slowly, but in 2012 he erupted (.260, 19 HR, 51 RBI, 72 R, 37 SB in 415 AB).

There was obvious cynicism heading into 2013, but he proved that the breakout was no aberration:

536 At Bats
.284 Batting Average (152 Hits)
24 Home Runs
73 RBI
80 Runs
40 Stolen Bases
.338 On Base Percentage
.506 Slugging Percentage
.344 BABIP

There will once again be doubt, as people expect a “guaranteed” regression. Is it justified, though? Could Gomez, now 28-years old, have finally put his skills together? Let’s break it down.

On the surface the average would appear to be a bit inflated. Yes, he doesn’t walk enough (6.3% in 2013 matched his career best). Yes he does strikeout (24.7% in ’13, 22.8% for his career), though it is hardly a crippling number. Maybe it takes .300 out of play, but no one would’ve expected that anyways. It certainly isn’t enough to stop home from hitting .270+.

What critics will point to is his BABIP, which was a career best. Given his speed a .344 mark is not unbelievable. The bigger question is if he can maintain a 21.3% line drive rate, given a career mark of 17.6%. There was a major split to his season:

  • First Half – 18.4%
  • Second Half – 26.3%

Given his track record, even in 2012 (16.6%) it is easy to expect a regression. He’s likely more of a .260-.275 hitter, at best, though that’s certainly not a major knock.

Since 2009 Gomez has seen a steady improvement in his HR/FB:

  • 2009 – 3.7%
  • 2010 – 7.1%
  • 2011 – 11.4%
  • 2012 – 14.3%
  • 2013 – 16.4%

At this point there’s no reason to think that he can’t continue to produce at his current level.

Stolen Bases
While Gomez hadn’t shown much speed in the Majors prior to 2012, that was one tool that was never in question. He stole as many as 64 bases in the minor leagues, which should be enough. However, back in 2006 Mets Blog posted the following (click here for the full article):

In April, in the New York Times, Joel Sherman quoted GM Omar Minaya as saying Gomez is faster than Jose Reyes…

Gomez, on whether he is faster than Reyes, as quoted by Hoch…

“Some people say that. I went running with him, and sometimes he wins. But more times, I win. We were in the same city in the Dominican. He hits left (handed) and that’s why he’s a little more fast. I hit right (handed) and I have a little bigger swing. But if you put me and Reyes at 60 yards, I’ll win all the time. He looks fast because he bunts a lot and he hits left (handed), but if he hits right, I’m faster all the time.”…

Remember, at that time Reyes was routinely stealing 55+ bases a season, so there’s no reason to think Gomez can’t continue to swipe 35-40 a year.

We have to remember how decimated the Brewers lineup was in 2013. Ryan Braun battled injuries and was suspended for the final two months of the season and Aramis Ramirez was constantly battling injuries. With both healthy, along with Jonathan Lucroy, the middle of the Brewers order seems that much more potent.

In other words, there’s plenty of potential for growth in both of these categories.

While people will want to be skeptical of Gomez, the real question is why? Yes, maybe the average falls a little bit, but that’s not enough. There’s no doubting the power and speed, plus in a better lineup the other numbers should improve as well. Consider him a great buy for 2014.

Sources – Fangraphs, Mets Blog, Baseball Reference

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One comment

  1. duder says:

    Agreed. He’s like BJ Upton (before he fell apart last year) with a much better AVG. 20/40 is so valuable. The fact that he’s 28 and could hit 30 makes him even better.

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