The Brewers Season Outlook series goes on as we continue to preview the 2013 Brew Crew player-by-player.
In honor of there only being thirty-nine (39!!!) days left until Opening Day, today’s season outlook belongs to center fielder Carlos Gomez. (The number 40 really has no correlation with Gomez, but it’s always a blast to title something in honor of someone.)
Last year, I missed the nail completely on the statistical predictions for last year’s Brewers, but one of the select few that I hit on the head was, indeed, predicting the speedy Gomez to be the breakout player of the year.
A breakout 2012 it was for the 27-year-old from the Dominican Republic. After falling short of the many claims of his raw talent for almost all of his five previous seasons between the Mets, Twins, and Brewers, Gomez showed more than just his blinding speed over the course of the season. Much more.
Gomez’s career high OPS entering the season .679 – accomplished the prior season with Milwaukee -, which he toppled with a .768 mark and a 102 OPS+, 20 points higher than the previous high.
Much of Gomez’s career year can be attributed to his shift from trying too hard to become the prototypical speedster center fielder, and playing like, well…, Carlos Gomez. No longer was he pressing to slap base hits to right or make a concerted effort to just hit ground balls and beat the throw; the free-swinging Gomez was not only allowed, but encouraged, to swing for the fences (career-high 19 homers) and still be able to use his speed to kill teams.
That speed comes in handy on the bases and while roaming the outfield. Gomez, long considered one of the fastest players in the game (he recently claimed to have clocked in at 3.8 seconds in a 40 yard dash and having run 10.8 meters in 100 seconds.), and stole 37 bases in 137 games. Per FanGraphs, he was over 6 baserunning runs above replacement value, good for 14th in the MLB.
Defensively, it doesn’t come any better than Gomez. His first step takes him to the ball, and his straightaway speed allows him to catch up to balls that shouldn’t be caught up to. The numbers are just crazy. 18 defensive runs saved and 2.4 dWAR over two seasons–Gomez’s defensive WAR alone is higher than Phillies infielder Michael Young’s combined WAR over that same time period. His 72 plays made out of his zone rank fourth among MLB centerfielders; if he had the same amount of innings as the OTZ leader in center, it would have placed him second in the league behind the venerable Michael Bourn. Any and all defensive metrics (along with the good old highlight reels) agree that Carlos Gomez is a Gold Glove talent in center field.
From here, it can only get better for Go-Go. He still needs to take more walks – even if just a few while still swinging out of his shoes most of the time – and his BABIP indicated he could be due for some good luck, especially for a guy with his ability to fly to first. He doesn’t come into the year with a platoon of any sort; the center field job is his.
Aside from Ryan Braun, there may be no player more fun to watch on the team than Gomez.
2013 RtB Predictions: .255/.314/.401, 140 G, 486 PA, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 82 R, 33 SB, 3.0 WAR, a handful of beautiful #CarlosGomezBatFlips
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