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Entries in Carlos Gomez (5)


Carlos Gomez Uses Opposite Field, Develops into Elite Hitter

Arguably the biggest storyline in an otherwise forgettable 2013 campaign for the Milwaukee Brewers was the development of center fielder Carlos Gomez, whose career-best 8.4 bWAR last season was the second highest mark of any position player in baseball -- beating out the likes of NL MVP Andrew McCutchen (8.2 bWAR) and AL MVP Miguel Cabrera (7.2 bWAR). Missing just five of 162 regular season games, the former Mets top prospect posted career-highs in batting average (.284), OPS (.843), weighted on-base average (.344) and walk rate (6.3%), along with setting personal bests in defensive WAR (4.6) and stolen bases (40).

Of course, one of Gomez's career-best marks set last season that pundits remain skeptical of was his .344 batting average on balls in play (BABIP, for short), which increased dramatically from his 2012 mark of .296. The reason behind his success last season, many said, mainly stemmed from the increase in BABIP -- a stat that measures a player's batting average, excluding strikeouts and home runs. Some went as far as to say Gomez was one of the "luckiest" hitters in baseball last season. While I acquiesce that there is at least some luck involved with maintaining a high BABIP, I tend to think that hitters maketheir own luck by augmenting specific facets of their approach at the plate.

Such is the case with Gomez last season.

Gomez's BA on hits located to center and right field, 2012

Gomez's BA on hits located to center and right field, 2013

A pull hitter if there ever was one, Gomez relied heavily on his ability to yank pitches to left field with authority in posting a .413 batting average in such situations two seasons ago. Consequently, he struggled to maintain such a high mark on hits to center and right field, garnering a .275 average on such hits and ranking in the bottom 25% of the league in that respect. And as we can see from the first image, there was no specific area of the zone where Gomez's center and opposite field-hits originated from. Instead, it lacked any noticeable consistency.

That all changed last season, where Gomez clearly made it a point to go either the opposite way or to center field with pitches located on the outer half of the plate. As such, he posted a much-improved .359 batting average on opposite and center-field hits -- placing himself just outside the top fourth of all qualified batters. Another reason for Gomez's success hitting to center and right field? He place better quality contact behind those hits, posting a .197 well-hit average last season compared to his .152 mark in 2012.

But how does BABIP tie into all this? Last season, hits located to either center field or the batter's pull side generated a BABIP of .304, compared to the .312 league average BABIP on hits located to either center field or the batter's opposite field. What this means is that hitters are more likely to maintain a higher BABIP on hits located to their opposite field than to the pull side, which minimize's the "luck" factor placed upon Gomez last season, since his increases were so significant. But since Gomez placed significantly better contact on such pitches last season, I tend to think he made his own luck.


NL Best & Worst Hitters Home & Away

I know it is not a revelation, but there is no National League hitting equivalent of Miguel Cabrera.

NL Home and Away stars

The closest we can find in terms of home and away hitting in the NL, is the Brewers Carlos Gomez who is hitting .362 in Milwaukee and .378 away from home.

Next among the elite NL home and away batters are the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez who is hitting .345 in LA and .345 on the road and Yadier Molina hitting .333 in St. Louis and .324 on the road.

Home bodies

The top three hitters at home in the NL are: 

Road Warriors

We expect, and understand, hitting success in Colorado which is what makes Wilin Rosario's .417 road batting average, the best in the NL, fascinating. But what makes it truly amazing is that he is only hitting .184 at Coors.

The guys who prefer the road to hit are: 

Equal opportunity batter

Jean Segura is hitting .333 at home/.333 on the road. Segura is the only NL batter within four points on his home and away averages.

Some numbers of note 

  • Adam LaRoche is hitting .091 in Washington, the worst home batting average in the NL.
  • Rickie Weeks is hitting .095 away from Milwaukee, the worst road batting average in the NL.
  • B.J. Upton is hitting .133 in Atlanta and .159 away.
  • Ike Davis is hitting .176 in New York and .167 away.
  • Matt Kemp is hitting .189 in LA and .328 away.
  • Lucas Duda is hitting .200 in New York and .308 away.
  • Andrew McCutchen is hitting .316 in Pittsburgh and .182 away.
  • Jimmy Rollins is hitting .275 in Philly and .185 away.
  • Alfonso Soriano is hitting .333 in Chicago and .200 away.
  • Jedd Gyorko is hitting .333 in San Diego and .203 away.
  • Buster Posey is hitting .360 in San Francisco and .204 away.
  • Starlin Castro is hitting .329 in Chicago and .224 away.
  • David DeJesus is hitting .347 in Chicago and .224 away.
  • Carl Crawford is hitting .377 in LA and .241 away.
  • Bryce Harper is hitting .370 in Washington and .255 away.
  • Pete Kozma is hitting .216 in St. Louis and .297 away. 

Carlos Gomez Finds Power Stroke, Cashes In

Carlos Gomez is now a threat at the plate, too, thanks to improvements against breaking pitches.At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Carlos Gomez has always looked like a power hitter. Yet the former Mets prospect, the centerpiece of the 2008 Johan Santana swap, slugged under .400 in the minor leagues and rarely punched the ball out of the infield during his early twenties with New York, Minnesota and Milwaukee. Gomez finally added power to his Gold Glove-caliber defense last season, and the Brewers have now rewarded him with a four-year, $28.3 million contract extension. GM Doug Melvin thinks the 27-year-old Gomez is just getting started:

"He has always had the physical skills, and his recent performance has given us the confidence that he will take the next step in becoming one of the top center fielders in the game," Melvin said. "His energy, speed and aggressive style of play is a perfect fit for Ron Roenicke's style of managing." (Associated Press)

Gomez's home run total has spiked from just five in 2010 to eight in 2011 and 19 last year. His slugging percentage has climbed 100-plus points over the same time frame, from .357 to .463. With those 19 bombs and 37 stolen bases, Gomez joined Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, B.J. Upton and Jimmy Rollins in the 15 homer, 30 SB club.

Gomez has emerged as a power threat by making huge strides against curveballs and sliders. Once a liability when pitchers tossed him a breaking ball, Gomez now makes them pay.

Back in 2010, Gomez was a banjo hitter versus curves and sliders. He often chopped breaking pitches into the turf (his 57% ground ball rate on curves and sliders was way above the 45% MLB average), and he had all of two extra-base knocks the entire year:

Gomez's slugging percentage vs. curveballs and sliders, 2010

Gomez slugged .200 against breaking balls, about 150 points below the MLB average and the sixth-worst mark among hitters seeing at least 300 curves and sliders that season. In 2011, Gomez made some strides. He put the ball in the air more often (47% ground ball rate vs. breaking pitches) and made louder contact, particularly on the edges of the strike zone:

Gomez's slugging percentage vs. curveballs and sliders, 2011


Gomez slugged .385 vs. curves and sliders. Last year, he progressed from a so-so breaking ball hitter to a slugger. Gomez's ground ball rate dropped another tick (46%) and he pulverized curves and sliders thrown down and inside:

Gomez's slugging percentage vs. curveballs and sliders, 2012


With a .461 slugging percentage against curves and sliders, Gomez ranked third behind Josh Hamilton (.563) and Mike Trout (.521) among center fielders, and his nine homers trailed just Hamilton (18) and Adam Jones (10).

Gomez's power surge has transformed him from an easy out (76 OPS+ in 2010) into a quality MLB hitter (102 OPS+ in 2012), free-swinging style be damned. His new deal could turn out to be a bargain for Milwaukee, now that he's got pop to go along with his base running and fielding prowess.