Carlos Gomez and Controlled Aggression | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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

The Brewers broke out of an offensive slump Monday night against the Diamondbacks, erupting for eight runs in the win. Carlos Gomez, Martin Maldonado, and Jean Segura went deep for Milwaukee, which scored six or more runs for the first time since April 19.

Leading the way for the Brewers was Gomez, who hit a lead-off homer and a two-run single in the sixth to go along with three walks.

While the power and run production have become commonplace for Gomez, who is hitting .291/.360/.567 through 150 plate appearances, the three walks were arguably the biggest catch from the box score.

The biggest knock of Gomez through his eight big league seasons has been his lack of walks and high strikeout numbers. A career 5.5 BB% batter, Gomez set a career high in that area last season at 6.3%. While he started to draw more walks, it was nothing to write home about.

But for Gomez, weighting his value too much from walks and on-base percentage wouldn’t make sense, because it doesn’t match the type of player he is. He’s high-energy (just ask Gerrit Cole), never gets cheated on a swing, and often ends up on his knees after taking a cut. If you take away that first-pitch swinging, high-aggression approach, Gomez’s plate appearances would not only change, but you’d be changing the approach that he’s used as the fourth-most valuable player in baseball since 2013.

For Gomez (and hitters in general), it would be hard to complain if he did get a bit more selective at the plate, but that selectivity shouldn’t have to come at the expense of his aggression. And Monday night was the prime example of controlled aggression.

In his first plate appearance, he was typical Carlos Gomez. Never having faced a pitch from Diamondbacks starter Mike Bolsinger, he attacked a first-pitch fastball right over the heart of the plate and hit a lead-off home run.

Gomez is one of the most dangerous first-pitch batters in baseball. If you would want to bet on any Brewers player to swing at the first pitch, it would take some heavy faith to not pick Gomez. Since the beginning of 2013, he has put 137 0-0 count pitches into play, batting .424 while slugging .811. 11 of his 32 (34%) home runs during that time period have been off the first pitch. Instilling the idea that Gomez should be working the count and not being highly aggressive at the plate “because he’s hitting lead-off” wouldn’t be right.

Below is the heat map for batting average of Gomez in 0-0 counts since 2013.

That said, he’s going to have at-bats, like on Sunday, where he strikes out when the pitcher only throws him four balls. Those are bound to happen when you have one of the most aggressive hitters in the major leagues, but, then again, so will a 1.235 OPS on first pitches.

Monday night’s three walks were the perfect example of this controlled aggression. With two out and none in his next plate appearance after a first-pitch homer, Gomez took the count full and drew a walk.With a runner on second and two outs in the fourth, he drew a seven-pitch walk. Just to fool around, he drew another seven-pitch walk in the eighth inning.

His RBI single in the sixth also came on a 3-2 count, making it four of five plate appearances in which he took the count full–each time delivering by getting on base.

All things considered, it may have been one of Gomez’s most impressive games offensively as a Brewer.

Gomez is going to swing freely and swing often, there’s no way around it. For the Brewers, the rewards of that approach outweigh the negatives as he is continuing to hit at career-high levels. If he can channel that aggression if plate appearances are drawn out, just as he did Monday, he can be of even more value at the plate.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. L says: May 6, 2014

    This is kind of what I wrote about under an earlier article about the Brewers aggressive approach. I noted that they needed to balance their aggression by having… for lack of a better word “controlled aggression”. The ubber-aggressiveness that they were demonstrating and in some cases bragging about (C.Gomez) would eventually lead to the Brewers’ offense struggling when opposing teams altered their approach in hopes to limiting our aggressiveness; however, by balancing that aggression with some patience and willingness to work pitches into hitter counts now and then should throw off opposing teams game plans and will likely see the Brewers being a more successful offensive team. Maintaining a solid balance between aggresssion and willingness to work pitch counts isn’t easy, but it’s what the Brewers must strive for throughout the season IMO to be successful. Anyways, Go Brewers!

    • dbug says: May 6, 2014

      They have a couple of starters barely on pace to draw double digit walks. They are going to have to find a happy medium, because you have to be able to walk sometimes. Unless everyone starts hitting .330, this is going to be a very low .OBP team.

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