Could Carlos Gomez go 40-40? | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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

In baseball’s modern era, the creation of the American League in 1901, there have been 236 no-hitters and 21 perfect games. 65 times pitchers have struck out four players in one inning, and 50 times pitchers have stuck out the side using the minimum of nine pitches. The pitching “Triple Crown” — finishing a season leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts – has been accomplished 30 times.

When Mike Trout hit for the cycle on May 21, 2013, it was the 260th time that’s happened in the modern era. The batting “Triple Crown” has been achieved 14 times. A player has hit four home runs in a game 14 times and a player having 10 RBIs, in one game, has happened 12 times.

I’m throwing out all these number for a little perspective. Here’s another one, 60 times players have had 30 home runs and 30 steals in one season but, out of those 60 times, only four have made it to 40-40. In baseball, it’s the pinnacle of the power and speed combo. And it’s something for which we can all thank Jose Canseco.

Jose Canseco predicted his entrance into the 40-40 Club, prior to the 1988 season, and lived up to his word. But, in perfect Canseco fashion, he thought it had been done before and didn’t realize he was breaking new ground until someone checked the record book for him. He is still the only player to win the MVP during his 40-40 season. Two of the other members of the club, Barry Bonds in 1996 and Alex Rodriguez in 1998, make sense. The newest member might be a little surprising, Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Considering he made the 40-40 Club in his “contract year,” might explain why he received the massive eight-year/$136M payday from Cubs.

Here are the details on each member of the 40-40 Club –-

Year Team Home Runs Stolen Bases
Jose Canseco 1988 Athletics 42 40
Barry Bonds 1996 Giants 42 40
Alex Rodriguez 1998 Mariners 42 46
Alfonso Soriano 2006 Nationals 46 41

After watching Carlos Gomez bash four home runs over a three-game span, last week, I began to wonder whether he might ever be able to join this elite power/speed club. Anyone who has watched Gomez play knows that he has fantastic speed, he swiped 37 bags last year, but Gomez’s power is a new development. This, maybe, shouldn’t be as much of a surprise as it is. Carlos Gomez is 6’ 3” and 215 LB. Detroit Lions receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson stands 6’ 5” and weights 236 LB. With his natural size, and adjusted approach at the plate, Carlos Gomez has turned into a legitimate power threat, as is evident by his .270 ISO, which is tied with Paul Goldschmidt for 8th best in all of baseball.

In fact, Carlos Gomez is already part of an elite club to start the 2013 season. Here’s a list of players who have both double digit steals and home runs –

Home Runs Stolen Bases
Carlos Gonzales 13 12
Mike Trout 10 12
Carlos Gomez 10 10

Often described as a pure athlete, who has finally translated his skills to baseball, Gomez appears to have the raw tools needed for a player to join the 40-40 Club.  Of course, playing half his games in Miller Park doesn’t hurt either. Given his athletic gifts and home park factors, I wanted to see if 40-40 could be a possibility for Gomez.

First I looked at his career numbers, in relevant areas, to get a sense of his track record –

Year Team Age Plate Appearances Home Runs Stolen Bases Caught Stealing
2007 Mets 21 139 2 12 3
2008 Twins 22 614 7 33 11
2009 Twins 23 349 3 14 7
2010 Brewers 24 318 5 18 3
2011 Brewers 25 258 8 16 2
2012 Brewers 26 452 19 37 6

So far, things don’t look too promising. Gomez hasn’t even achieved a 20-20 season, much less gotten close to the 30 home runs needed for a 30-30 season. Of course, Gomez’s playing time has been erratic as teams nurtured his raw talent, been injured, or played him in a platoon. The only season where Gomez was “qualified” for the batting title was during 2008 when he received 614 PA with the Twins. (To “qualify” for the batting title, a player must average 3.1 PA per game played by their team. Over the course of a 162 game season, that comes to 502 PA.)

Carlos Gomez emerged as the Brewers’ every day centerfielder during the second half of the 2012 season. This occurred because of both Nyjer Morgan’s poor play and Gomez’s breakout performance. To get a better gauge on how Gomez has been playing recently, I went through the last 162 games he has played, including Thursday’s contest in Minnesota. Here’s how his number look from 5/27/12 to 5/30/13 –

Plate Appearances Home Runs Stolen Bases Caught Stealing
585 28 42 6

That’s a 30-30 player, minus an Aaron Hicks catch or two. Gomez is still a few big flies away from a 40-40 season but it’s looking a lot more promising. To see if those home runs would be too much to make up, I compared the seasons by 40-40 members with the season they had prior to the break through.

Year Age Plate Appearances Home Runs Stolen Bases Caught Stealing
Jose Canseco 1988 23 705 42 40 16
Jose Canseco 1987 22 691 31 15 3
Jose Canseco 1986 21 682 33 15 7
Barry Bonds 1996 31 675 42 40 7
Barry Bonds 1995 30 635 33 31 10
Barry Bonds 1994 29 474 37 29 9
Barry Bonds 1993 28 674 46 29 12
Barry Bonds 1992 27 612 34 39 8
Alex Rodriguez 1998 22 748 42 46 13
Alex Rodriguez 1997 21 638 23 29 6
Alex Rodriguez 1996 20 677 36 15 4
Alfonso Soriano 2006 30 728 46 41 17
Alfonso Soriano 2005 29 682 36 30 2
Alfonso Soriano 2004 28 658 28 18 5
Alfonso Soriano 2003 27 734 38 35 8
Alfonso Soriano 2002 26 741 39 41 13

It’s interesting to note that each 40-40 Club member, except Barry Bonds, received over 700 PA in the season they went 40-40.

So each 40-40 member hit, at least, 30 home runs in one of the seasons prior to their 40-40 year. Gomez hasn’t achieved that yet, even over the last 162 game stretch, but he could cross that mark this year. There’s been a steady rise in Gomez’s home runs per plate appearance, ever since he joined the Brewers, which also tracks with his home run to fly ball ratio  –

Year Team HR/PA HR/FB
2007 Mets 1.4% 5.9%
2008 Twins 1.1% 4.8%
2009 Twins 0.9% 3.7%
2010 Brewers 1.6% 7.1%
2011 Brewers 3.1% 11.4%
2012 Brewers 4.2% 14.3%
2013 Brewers 5.0% 17.9%

If Gomez gets 700 PA, and continues to hit home runs in 5% of them, he will end the season with 35 home runs. If he gets 600 PA, Gomez projects to hit 30 home runs.

Gomez may not be on his way to 40-40, this year, but a 30-30 season seems within grasp. As a final comparison, I looked at the numbers that each player had, at the end of May, during the season they made the 40-40 club.

Year Plate Appearance Home Runs Stolen Bases Caught Stealing
Jose Canseco 1988 231 12 17 5
Barry Bonds 1996 232 17 13 O
Alex Rodriguez 1998 258 20 10 4
Alfonso Soriano 2006 236 19 12 5
Carlos Gomez 2013 204 10 10 2

All things considered, it’s very unlikely that Carlos Gomez will make the 40-40 club this year or anytime in the future. The home runs, not the steals, will be the issue for him. To reach 40 home runs, Gomez would need to raise his home runs per plate appearance to closer to 6% and receive, at least, 700 PA. It’s possible but might require an adjusted focus at the plate that could work against him in other ways.

Of course, nothing is out of the realm of possibility with a player as talented as Gomez.  He has great speed, and is developing above average power. But, in the end, he lacks that extra little “juice,” linked to three out of the four 40-40 club members, that might have helped put them over the top.

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