As the 2009 baseball season drew to a close, then 23 year old former super-prospect Carlos Gomez was finishing another frustrating season with the Minnesota Twins. Hailed as a five tool talent and twice ranked among Baseball America’s top 60 prospects (2006 and 2007), the Twins wanted Gomez to focus on his blazing speed and become a slap hitter. He responded by slashing only .229/.287/.337 in 349 plate appearances. He managed a measly 23 extra base hits (and 3 home runs), and his OPS+ and wRC+ were both 35% lower than league average. The Twins, ready to move on from Gomez, found a willing trade partner in the Milwaukee Brewers. In what amounted to a change of scenery trade at the time, Minnesota shipped the disappointing Gomez to Milwaukee in exchange for shortstop J.J. Hardy, himself coming off poor 2009 season.
Gomez found himself in and out the Brewers lineup over the next couple of seasons, serving mostly as a fourth outfielder while the Brewers charged towards the playoffs in 2011. While fan favorite Nyjer Morgan‘s play slipped during the 2012 season, Gomez found himself inserted in the lineup more and more often. He eventually earned the everyday job by the second half of 2012, and responded by posting a .278/.321/.488 line in 74 games, slugging 14 of his then career high 19 home runs after the All-Star break. Following the season, the Brewers were convinced enough to ink Gomez to a 4 year, $28 mil extension. While many questioned that extension at the time, Gomez has been among the best players (and best bargains) in baseball over the last two seasons.
More from Reviewing the Brew
- Brewers: 4 Players Who Must Step Up for the Crew to Make the Playoffs
- Brewers: Yet Another Huge Promotion For Top Prospect Jackson Chourio
- Brewers Making Colossal Mistake With Corbin Burnes’ Contract
- Which Players May Be In The Final Month Of Their Brewers Careers?
- Brewers: Where Does Devin Williams Stand In NL Reliever Of The Year Race?
Gomez finally broke out in 2013, hitting .284/.338/.506 in 590 plate appearances. He set career highs in home runs (24), runs batted in (73), stolen bases (40), extra base hits (61), and was named to his first ever all-star game. Gomez’s offensive breakout combined with his Gold-Glove winning defense in center field led to a 8.9 wins above replacement value, which was tops in the National League. Gomez followed up his 2013 with an almost equally stellar 2014, where he slashed .284/.356/.477 with 23 home runs in 644 plate appearances. He increased his walk rate to a career high 7.3%, and cut his strikeout rate by nearly 3%. His defense wasn’t rated quite as highly as in 2013, but Gomez was still worth 4.8 WAR, second on the team behind Jonathan Lucroy.
Gomez is only 29 years old, and should be in the midst of his physical prime. Continuing his stellar play from the last two seasons will be key to the Brewers lineup as the team attempts to make a 2015 playoff run. So, what can we expect from Carlos Gomez in 2015?
In 2015, I’m predicting:
146 G 613 PA 560 AB 83 R 156 H 33 2B 8 3B 26 HR 95 RBI 31 SB 8 CS .279 BA .341 OBP .505 SLG 43 BB 135 K
Both Steven and I opined that Gomez should become the cleanup hitter for the Brewers this season, and I think that manager Ron Roenicke will realize the value having a player like Gomez in the four spot in the lineup in 2015. Whether it’s cleanup or somewhere else lower in the order, there isn’t really a great reason for Gomez to be hitting leadoff this season. As a result, we should see an increase in his RBI totals, though that will be tempered by a small decrease in runs scored. Gomez has had a very high BABIP over the past two seasons (.344 in 2013, .339 last year), so a small drop in his batting average shouldn’t be unexpected. I believe that Gomez’s power is for real, given his fairly constant fly ball rate since 2011 (between 38-43%), and his home run to fly ball ratio has been between 13.4-16.4% in each of the past 3 seasons. We’ll rate Gomez as a “great” defender in center field (last season was atypical for him based on his career fielding numbers) and we will also rate him as a “great” baserunner. Using our simple WAR calculator and last year’s .750 average MLB OPS, Gomez would be valued at 5.35 WAR based on the above projections.
Carlos Gomez has been an MVP candidate for Milwaukee over the last two seasons, and his continuing his tremendous offensive performance will be key for the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers lineup. I don’t have much reason to believe why Gomez wouldn’t be at least as good as he has been lately, and he could in fact be more valuable to the lineup if the Brewers make the wise decision to drop him lower in the order. Should Carlos Gomez continue his offensive pace from the last two-plus seasons combined with his stellar defense, I wouldn’t be surprised if he in the conversation to be taking home some hardware at the end of 2015.