Why Is Carlos Gomez's Fantasy Baseball Stock On the Rise?
Right as we get into season-long fantasy baseball drafts each year, it's fun to check out which guys are rising and falling leading into opening day. It can give us a heads up on where the public is investing, potentially tipping us off to players who are bound to make a leap.
Carlos Gomez's stock is making one of those leaps right now. But it's impossible to figure out why.
If you go to ESPN's average draft position (ADP) page, you can sort to see which players' costs have increased most over the past seven days. Three players right now have jumped at least 30 spots in that time.
The first is Josh Bell, who has been hitting high in the order for the Pittsburgh Pirates and is now being selected in the majority of drafts. The second is Greg Holland, who seems to be close to being named the Colorado Rockies' closer for opening day. Those both make a ton of sense.
The third is Gomez, who has shot up to pick 148.6, a 34.9-position increase from where he was a week ago. Unlike Bell and Holland, though, there's no definitive reasoning behind it.
Gomez had a scorching-hot September last year, and he's back with the Texas Rangers on a new deal. That's going to generate some headlines by itself. Is it enough, though, to justify his current cost? Let's take a deeper look to try to find out.
A Questionable Start to Spring
Considering where we are in the spring, your first possible justification for a jump like this would be a monster spring training. If a guy were yoking the baseball left and right, he'd probably be getting enough hype to inspire extra confidence.
To an extent, that's not totally wrong. Gomez has hit three dingers along with three doubles in his 36 trips to the dish, putting his triple slash at .344/.389/.781, and that could get the insides all tingly. But as we know, those aren't the stats we want to focus on when it comes to spring training.
Instead, we need to pay most attention to strikeout rate and walk rate, and these aren't quite as flattering for Gomez. To make things even worse, they conjur memories of his troubles last spring.
This is just 36 plate appearances for Gomez, and strikeout rates stabilize around 60 plate appearances, according to FanGraphs, but they provide a reason for pause. If we were basing our valuation of Gomez on his spring performance, we may actually want to be moving him in the other direction. Here are his spring strikeout rates from the past three seasons along with his strikeout rates during each respective regular season. Are we sure he's fully rid of those 2016 demons?
|Season||Spring Strikeout Rate||Regular Season Strikeout Rate|
Additionally, Gomez has walked in just 5.6% of his plate appearances this spring, down from 16.0% last year and 7.5% in the regular season. He has no stolen bases on zero attempts. In the most important categories, Gomez is providing more cause for concern than optimism.
Even though Gomez had a superb end run for the Rangers last year, strikeouts were still an issue for him. He had a 27.7% strikeout rate in his 130 plate appearances with Texas, down from 31.0% prior to that. It's an improvement, but that's still well above the league average, and things have spiked once again this spring. We're not out of the woods yet on this guy.
Working in Gomez's favor is that he'll be hitting high in the lineup for a decent offense in a hitter-friendly park. That's good. But if he can't keep his strikeout rate down, he's going to slide in the order, and it could hurt his playing time, all while bringing damage to your fantasy team. We may want to double check why this guy's shooting up draft boards.
More Risk Than Reward
If Gomez has reached his peak, then the cost here isn't overly restricting. The 150th overall pick in the draft is likely to carry risk no matter whom you pick, so there's no ideal solution. There still may be a better one, though.
In Gomez, the upside is a player with a combination of power and speed that's hard to duplicate. That same potential, though, lies in Joc Pederson, who's going 25 picks after Gomez while holding similar concerns. You could make decent arguments in favor of Byron Buxton, Keon Broxton, and Kevin Kiermaier, as well. These three players are now all at least 45 picks cheaper than Gomez.
We want to keep monitoring Gomez as the spring progresses to see if he can bring the strikeouts down. The power is sweet, but it won't matter if he can't make any contact. With the way things stand right now, it's getting harder and harder to stomach Gomez at his cost.
There aren't many players in baseball more fun to watch than Gomez with his electric personality and bubbling confidence. The fantasy asset, though, has some decent-sized red flags right now. With his stock on the rise, we may want to start thinking about divesting just in case his current risks wind up carrying into the regular season once again.