An Open Letter to Carlos Gomez, Secret Weapon | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Dear Carlos,
I am a stathead, with surprisingly little athletic ability. While I can certainly do yoga day and night, I certainly cannot hit a round ball with a round bat. My fastball wouldn’t be pulled over for speeding — in a school zone. But, I love the strategic harmony and grace of the game of baseball, and I follow it ravenously, with or without athletic ability. Because of that, I believe I misunderstood aspects of the game.

For quite some time, I was critical of your plate approach and baserunning. Despite your defensive value, I would not write about you as anything more than a part-time player. After 2012, I am thrilled to say that I was wrong about you. Your improvements batting the ball into the air, resulting in more power, efficiently running the bases, and of course, playing solid defense leave me excited to see what you can do in 2013 as the Brewers’ starting CF.

I am sorry that I doubted you, and wrote you off as a part-time player.

***

Years ago, I wrote that baserunning was of little consequence to MLB clubs, noting that the risk of running into outs outweighed the benefits. Needless to say, I believe Ron Roenicke‘s Brewers proved me wrong. Specifically, Carlos Gomez became somewhat of a secret weapon for the power/speed Brewers in 2012.

Prior to 2012, Gomez advanced on the basepaths at solid rates, taking extra bases at clips that were slightly-above average (or better). However, he also made outs at a strong rate; while his ratio of extra bases taken from first base (on singles and doubles) and second base (on singles) were solid, the ratio hardly offset Gomez’s 28 outs on the basepaths. Even with nearly 40 bases taken on fly balls, passed balls, and other defensive events, alongside 19 pick-offs (8 PCS), and 78% stolen base percentage on 119 attempts, for all his speed, it appeared that Gomez was better off staying put.

In 2012, Gomez turned his previous performance upside down, wreaking havoc on the bases. First and foremost, although his 1ts-to-3rd performance was not all that impressive (probably because he was too busy stealing bases!), Gomez really turned on the extra bases once he reached second:

1st-to-3rd on a single (10 opportunities): .200 (-1 base)
1st-to-home on a double (4 opportunities): .500 (+0 base)
2nd-to-home on a single (20 opportunities): .850 (+5 bases)

When you think about it, each of those 17 times Gomez reached home on a single, that resulted in an actual, solid run. A real, true tally on the scoreboard. Given the performance of typical NL runners, Gomez’s 2nd-to-home performance resulted in 5 more runs scored in those situations than average. NICE!

Meanwhile, Gomez made 5 outs on the basepaths, against 7 bases taken on fly balls and defensive events, and of course, successfully stole 37 of 43 attempts. In the context of his games played, Gomez made outs on the basepaths less frequently than in any other season; his efficiency, compared to those outs, easily made 2012 his best season as a baserunner.

Of course, when Gomez wasn’t wreaking havoc on the basepaths, he was hitting for extra bases in more than 9% of his PA, aside from playing solid defense and hitting for better average (and getting on base more) than any point in his career.

With this improvement, Gomez becomes a secret weapon behind the big bats of Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, adding to the Brewers’ gang of average-or-better power/speed role players: Rickie Weeks, Norchiika Aoki, even Corey Hart. If Gomez can continue to lift the ball into the air and efficiently advance on the bases, he will provide skills that allow him to maximize runs scoring from the Brewers’ centerfield.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Cecil Cooper's Love Child says: November 20, 2012

    Gomez will be the key next season. I think Gomez is becoming a more intelligent, mature player. He does not run with 100% effort on routine ground balls and popups anymore. I think this is his realization that we need him on the field as much as possible (it will also help his future bank account by playing 140+ games per season).

    I believe that if he continues this maturation process, we will win the division. I am confident the team will bring in some arms for the pen, Weeks will be back to normal, stud players will be studs again etc. To me, Gomez is the HUGE wild card. Play with measured aggressiveness Carlos and we all will benefit from your maturity.

    • Nicholas Zettel says: November 20, 2012

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I think Gomez’s maturation makes him another strong role player; it’s tough to think of him (or even Weeks, or Aoki, or Hart) as keys; I’d say, really, that Braun and Ramirez are the keys to this offense. BUT, having Gomez improving, along with Weeks, Hart, and Aoki, those players will make Braun and Ramirez even better.

      So, I think Gomez is important, but he’s important like Weeks is important, rather than like Braun is important (if that makes sense).

      • Cecil Cooper's Love Child says: November 20, 2012

        I enjoy your articles, Nick. I agree totally about his importance level.

        I list Carlos as the key because he is the least proven out of the players you mention. It goes without saying that Braun and Ramirez are what makes this team GO, but I am assuming that each of the guys in the lineup will be around their career norms.

        I just don’t know what Gomez’s career norm is yet. He gave us a glimpse last year in the second half….and I hope that is his standard going forward.

        • Nicholas Zettel says: November 20, 2012

          That makes perfect sense. In that case, I agree with you.

  2. oh Hal says: November 20, 2012

    You’re using astonishingly small sample sizes. To better evaluate you should just look at that actual events – what were the game situations, was he actually out, et cetera.

    Its not unusual for him to take away XBHs from opposing teams.

    • Nicholas Zettel says: November 21, 2012

      I’m not sure I understand why the sample sizes are small; I’m simply using what’s available in Gomez’s career, and each of his individual seasons. I don’t think that’s a “sample,” it’s simply what happened while he was playing.

  3. Christopher G. Richards says: November 20, 2012

    As a long-time critic and Gomez disbeliever, I want to acknowledge that the guy had a good 2012, the sort of season many had long expected, but that I had become convinced would never happen. If he can repeat this sort of season in 2013 I might even become a believer. For now, I remain a skeptic.

    • Nicholas Zettel says: November 21, 2012

      I understand this sentiment completely. I was in the same boat for quite some time. I am hopeful that Gomez can prove us all wrong once again, in 2013.

      • phil says: November 21, 2012

        compare gomez’s numbers last year with uptons ( with 100 more abs) coupled with his better d and i take gomez easily.meanwhile everyone is drooling over up. i believe he is a late bloomer who had enourmous pressure on him as a 21 yr old and had a hard time dealing with that distraction. i see him in a comfort zone and giving him the cf job now will relaz him even more…see great year ahead.

  4. Mike says: November 21, 2012

    I would trade Gomez for Rasmus because this may be the highest value he may have. Rasmus is the lefty power bat we need and he has experience in the NL Central.

    • Deadhead says: November 22, 2012

      Yuck!

  5. The_Ignitor says: November 21, 2012

    Carlos had a hell of a season. I would like to see him repeat it and I would like to see some improvement in his K to BB percentages.

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