Man on Fire: Milwaukee Brewers OF Carlos Gomez
Trivia time! Quick, kiddos: without looking, who currently leads the National League in OPS? If you said Bryce Harper… you’re wrong. If you said Ryan Braun… you’re wrong. If you said, “Uh, one of those Upton dudes?”… you’re doing it wrong. If you cheated, looked at the headline and said Carlos Gomez, you are right, but I hope it is a hollow victory. For shame.
As a lifelong Twins fan, the fact that Gomez is leading any league that isn’t in Japan in OPS is mind-boggling. In his two years in Minnesota, Gomez hit .248 and only had seven more hits than he had strikeouts. This was the centerpiece that the Twins got in return for the greatest pitcher to walk God’s green Earth, Johan Santana (no exaggeration at all, son). Great trade, Bill Smith!
Things weren’t much better for Go-Go with the Brew Crew. In his first three years, he hit .247/.298/.357 in 2010, .225/.276/.403 in 2011 and .260/.305/.463 in 2012. So, how in the world is Gomez hitting .386/.431/.675 (!!!!) in the first 31 games this year? The answer is clearly magic.
Carlos Gomez's Voodoo Magic
Gomez currently has a BABIP of .447. No, that is not a typo. That is just unfair. The second highest BABIP in the league entering play Thursday was James Loney’s .424. In his career in the majors, Gomez’s highest BABIP prior to this season was .330 back in his rookie year. Regression knows no mistress as attractive as Carlos Gomez right now.
A possible reason for this disgusting increase in BABIP is that Gomez is striking the ball better than he ever has. His line-drive percentage in 2011 was 11.9; that increased to 16.6 percent last year. This year, the progression has continued as 21.8 percent of Gomez’s balls put-in-play have been line drives. Gomez is also yet to pop-out to the infield yet this year. While this doesn’t mean his BABIP is going to stay anywhere near .447, it does indicate that his success this year hasn’t been a complete fluke.
Gomez would probably make Billy Beane slam his head through a slide rule. His walk-percentage is at 4.7 percent this year, the 13th lowest total in the NL (Although he’s no Jeff Keppinger, who is yet to walk this year through 112 plate appearances).
In regards to plate selectivity, though, Gomez has shown progression with his strikeout totals. After having a strikeout percentage above league average for his first four seasons, that number has steadily declined the last two years and sits at 18.7 percent this year (the league average is above 20).
If you own Gomez in a fantasy league, sell high if you possibly can. He’s going to regress back toward the mean, and his value will never be higher than it is right now. That’s not to discredit what Gomez is doing this year – his progression is commendable – it’s just time for you to capitalize and strike while the iron is hot.
Jim Sannes is the numberFire columnist for the Minnesota Twins and other assorted teams. Like what you see or want to argue? Let him know on Twitter at @JimSannes.