By Nathan Petrashek
Editor’s note: This is the second of Cream City Cables’ 2014 position preview series. Other positions: Catcher.
There was a time when Carlos Gomez looked like another failed high-profile prospect. Minnesota washed their hands of him in late 2009 and shipped him to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy, who was himself coming off a terrible season. Gomez was speedy, sure, but he could never manage to hit enough. Owner of a .243/.291/.357 line between 2007 and 2011, it got so bad for Gomez that he found himself the right-handed component of a platoon with light-hitting lefty Nyjer Morgan.
Something clicked for Gomez in 2012, when he hit 14 second-half home runs with a .278/.321/.488 slash line. Gomez attributes the turnaround to essentially ignoring the advice of his coaches, who were pressing Gomez to exercise better plate discipline and get on base more frequently to make use of his game-changing speed. Instead, Gomez embraced his free-swinging attitude. Even though he saw a dreadful 3.39 pitches per plate attempt in 2012, he set new career highs in virtually every offensive category. The Brewers believed enough to sign Gomez in the offseason to a 3-year/$24M deal.
It was wise of them to do so. With a full-time job in hand, in 2013 Gomez bested nearly every career offensive record he set in 2012. He improved from 37 to 40 stolen bases, showcases the game-changing speed that has become his trademark. But more than that, his final line of .284/.338/.506 shows marked improvement in his power and contact. With a .344 BABIP, some of that may be luck, but it’s also reasonable to believe some of it was maturation.
In the field, Gomez is one of the best players in the game. He won the Brewers’ first gold glove since 1982 last year for his exceptional play, and DRS says his defense saved 38(!) runs last season. It’s more fun to watch them than talk about them, though, so here you have Gomez stealing a Joey Votto home run:
And that is how you put up a 7.6 WAR season.
590 pa, 80 r, 24 hr, 73 rbi, 40 sb, 6.3 bb%, 24.7 k%, .284/.338/.506, 130 wRC+
Steamer: 623 pa, 73 r, 21 hr, 74 rbi, 32 sb, 6.1 bb%, 23.6 k%, .251/.305/.433, 101 wRC+
ZiPS: 491 pa, 69 r, 19 hr, 58 rbi, 32 sb, 5.7 bb%, 24.4 k%, .260/.313/.462, 111 wRC+
Signed to a 3-year/$24M contract in 2012; two years remaining.