Imagine yourself back on March 31.
You were enduring the calm before the storm. The referee had all but sounded the gun for the 162-leg marathon. Your winter jacket was probably still prominently displayed on the coat rack. Francisco Rodriguez was not a Brewer.
Now, imagine yourself on March 31, listing off the, say, fifty players that would lead the league in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) come two-plus months from the date.
Miguel Cabrera? Awesome then and awesome now. Mike Trout? Same. Joey Votto? Yup.
Now raise your hand if you would have not only had Carlos Gomez in that list, but at the top of it.
Contrary to the odds, Gomez leads Major League Baseball with a WAR of 4.2. Repeated: Gomez leads all of baseball with a WAR of 4.2. Damn right the man deserves his own bobblehead!
Through 63 games, Gomez has ascended to the top of the league and into my girlfriend’s heart (I’m sometimes convinced she likes him more than me, but it’s justified, probably) not only on the defensive and base running side, but also at the plate. The speedy center fielder leads the team in homers, runs, slugging, isolated power, and swings that lose his helmet.
What’s truly incredible about Gomez’s feats is his long-awaited fulfillment of the dreaded “p-word”: potential.
For years, since his days with as a prospect with the Mets through his time with the Twins, Gomez has shown signs of brilliance and raw ability to go along with signs of, bluntly, bad baseball. Questionable base running, poor at-bats, and terrible hacks plagued Gomez for years. Years.
A few minor swing adjustments and a .960 OPS later, Gomez has ascended to becoming the most valuable player in all of baseball. For Gomez, it has been a mixture of stellar defense (his 11.6 fielding runs above average are tops in baseball), stealthy base running and speed (13 steals, eight triples), and an offensive outbreak (.326/.366/.594). All three phases considered, you’d be hard-pressed to find any player who’s been more productive to their team through the first one-third of the season.
Granted, there are still just under two-thirds of the season left. Expecting MVP-level production from Gomez for one hundred more games may be a bit far-fetched, but this Carlos Gomez is here, and here to stay. He’s one of few players in the game that contributes at a high level in every possible facet of the game. Gomez brings an energy to the club that doesn’t translate to his WAR–a sense of high intensity to each at-bat and hustle to chase down each fly ball. His play, along with that of Jean Segura, have been the consistent bright spots in what has been predominantly a rough start for the Brewers.
In the field, Gomez has been even better than in years past in which he was already considered on of the game’s top center fielders. His Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of 11.6 leads all players. His RngR (runs above average based on range) is the highest in the game at 11.3. The only player to make more plays out of his “zone” than Gomez is Hunter Pence (Milwaukee’s Jean Segura and Ryan Braun rank tied for second and fourth, respectively). His robbing of a Carlos Gonzalez would-be home run still ranks as one of the top plays made this season.
Gomez has undoubtedly asserted himself as a deserving All Star and has made sure that, next year on March 31, his name is include in that list among the top players in baseball.