I bashed Carlos Gomez all year. That’s what the folks that don’t bother to actually read what I write think. Those folks, and there are plenty of them out there, think I’m a moron who just likes to hate on players. Those of you out there that take the time to follow the path I lay out understand that when I say something it’s not because I’m trying to be different. It’s not because I’m trying to be argumentative. It’s because I believe the data leads to the conclusion that I present. That’s what I did with Carlos Gomez when I spoke about him in 2013. It’s what I will do with him as we look forward to 2014 as well.
Gomez is a career .255 hitter.
Prior to 2013 he had never hit .265 in a season.
He hit .284 in 2013.
Those that dismiss me see those facts, remember me famously saying that “Gomez can’t hit,” and deduce I was a moron. Am I? Well you know I’m going to say no, but here’s why.
Gomez strikes out too much. Period. For his career he owns a 22.8 percent K-rate, a mark he surpassed last season at 24.7 percent. That means Gomez strikes out once every 4.01 at-bats and per 550 at-bats that’s 137 Ks. In today’s game that isn’t a horrible mark, but it’s still not good. What really hurts Gomez is that he never takes a walk. Last season was the first time he walked 30 times in a season with 37 walks… in 147 games. Mike Trout walked 29 times over his last 27 games. Add that K-rate to his walk rate and what you get is a 0.25 BB/K ratio. Not only is that substantially below the league average which is always in the 0.40 range, it’s just a terrible number that speaks to his lack of plate discipline that Gomez brings to the party. When you have an approach like this it’s extremely difficult to be consistent at the plate, hence my continuing concern about his batting average. Check it out and tell me if I’m wrong. Here are his monthly batting average marks.
.360 in April
.290 in May
.301 in June
.256 in July
.197 in August
.281 in September
He hit .265 over his last 58 games and .248 over his last 72 games. Remember how I said he had never hit .265 in a season before? He’s simply not a .284 hitter, a position that is further supported by a career best .344 BABIP in ’13 (the mark was under .315 the previous four seasons). It’s also highly dubious that Gomez will be able to replicate his 21.3 percent line drive rate given that the mark was under 17 percent the previous three seasons (17.6 percent for his career), another strike in the he’s going to repeat his career best matting average mark in 2014.
Gomez can hit a big fly, I never doubted that, but he also posted a career best 16.4 percent HR/F mark in 2013 which is light years beyond his 10.0 percent career mark. He sees a bit of a dip there, even to let’s say 14 percent, and repeats that 38 percent fly ball rate he put out there last season and he’ll have no chance at his first 25 homer season. He’s best thought of as a 20 homer bat.
It might surprise you to learn, maybe it won’t, that Gomez has never driven in 75 runs or scored 81 times in a season. “But Ray, that’s not fair, he wasn’t a full-time player for years.’ Fair point. Let’s give him 550 at-bats. If he were to maintain his career rates over 550 at-bats he would bat .255 with 15 homers, 60 RBIs and 82 runs scored. Josh Hamilton hit .250 with 21 homers, 79 RBIs and 73 runs scored in 2013. Were you happy with that level of production? Exactly. But that’s not quite fair since he does steal bases…
Gomez will have value for his wheels, he’s one of only three guys that has stolen 35 bases the past two seasons (Rajai Davis and Everth Cabrera are the others). He’s been pretty successful too with 77 steals and just 13 caught stealing the past two seasons. No negative to comment on here.
So what will Gomez be in 2014? I’ve laid out the case that it would be smart, logical, intelligent if you will, to expect a pull back in the batting average category. It also seems unlikely that he’ll improve his homer total. The runs and RBIs are solid, but given his poor approach at the plate it’s unlikely he will break through in the RBI or runs scored column. One last note. Compare these two seasons.
.284-24-73-80-40 with 146 Ks.
.246-28-78-79-31 with 169 Ks.
The second line was the 2012 effort of a similarly skilled player – B.J. Upton. I’m not saying Gomez will crap out in 2014 like Upton did in 2013, but players with this approach are prone to slumps, and that alone should cause you pause if you’re considering making Gomez a foundational block of your 2014 fantasy baseball squad.
By Ray Flowers