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.