Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Carlos the Gomez


As much as it pains me, I think the time has come to admit that Carlos Gomez might be developing into a good hitter. He certainly isn't there yet, but he has made some major improvements this season compared to last, and at the very least is moving in the right direction. Add in his speed and already world class defense, and the Twins just might have gotten a good player back from what was starting to look like a disaster of a Johan Santana trade.

You might not think so to look at the numbers. His batting average (.240) is lower than last year, his OBP (.296) is identical, and his slugging (.378) is marginally up. So why all the praise?

First of all, and most obvious, he's been hot lately, putting up a line of .250/.323/.411 in July - All three numbers are the highest of any month this season. Since June 23rd and through last night, his numbers are .280/.330/.500. If those are numbers he keeps up for a full season - look out.

Digging deeper, he's made some pretty substantial improvements in his hitting. Last year his stats were buoyed by 30 bunt hits - this year he has four. Not because he's forgotten how to bunt for a hit, but because he's been doing it less and working on being a hitter who can hit for extra bases - key given his speed. He has bunted just 15 times this year compared to 66 all last season.

If you take his 30 bunt hits out of his numbers last year, his average drops to .233. This less-reliance on the bunt as a way to get on base is a huge step in his development. This shows in his power. His doubles, triples, and home runs (per AB) are all up from last year, and his isolated power (SLG-AVG) is up by about 40 percent.

Everything points to improvement. His walk rate has nearly doubled, and his strikeout rate has dropped a bit. His Line Drive % is up, and those line drives are taking the place of fly outs, not ground balls. He's showing a much more disciplined approach at the plate. Last year he swung at 37% of pitches out of the strike zone, one of the worst marks in the majors. This year he has drastically cut that down to just 28% (Morneau is at 31%), which has cut his overall pitches swung at percent to under 50%, when last year it was at 60%.

Simply put, he is progressing in a nice way at the plate, which, along with a sometimes circuitous route to some flyballs, was his weakness. If he continues to work on his plate discipline, and he has improved all three years he's played, things could even get better. I'm not quite ready to say he has 30-30 potential or will be a #3 hitter someday like his biggest pimp Snacks believes, but if he played a full season at the level he has since June 23rd, we're looking at a line of .280/.330/.500 with 32 doubles, 16 triples, and 11 home runs (and 16 steals, but I expect this number to get better with more experience).

Can you imagine that as your #2 hitter? Span-Gomez (this version)-Mauer-Morneau-Kubel is pretty damn good start to a lineup. Now if only they could find some pitching.

4 comments:

snacks said...

I see my constant badgering at you about him has finally paid off.

If you think about it, those great numbers since June 23rd? That must be right about the time he started playing just about every day. A lot of players struggle when they get only sporadic playing time. If that dipshit Gardy had him in everyday from the start of the year, he might have some real impressive season numbers right now.

Dharma Bum said...

I agree he should play but #2 hitter? No way he improves his plate discipline that much.

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