Adam McCalvy published a nice story today on MLB.com about how maybe, just maybe, Carlos Gomez might finally become a star this year. He goes into it with a healthy dose of reality and skepticism, as he probably should:
A disclaimer, right off the bat: You may have read this story before.
They wrote it in New York, where Carlos Gomez was a hotshot outfield prospect. They wrote it in Minnesota, where he arrived in the Johan Santana blockbuster and was expected to star. And we've written it in Milwaukee, where Gomez has showed flashes of his tremendous promise over the past two seasons.
Now, we just can't help but write it again: Is this the year Gomez gets it?
Gomez does look great so far, no doubt about that. Yeah, he's starting only against lefties, but it's clear that he's hitting the ball well. Not only that, but McCalvy makes a great point about discipline later in the article, noting that his outside-the-zone swing percentage is down 5 points from 2010 and 2011.
So here's my challenge to you, dear reader: can you find Gomez's current slash line in this group of short, good-hitting stretches Gomez has had in his career? Quick!
45 PA, .326/.356/.465
42 PA, .385/.429/.641
37 PA, .412/.459/.676
49 PA, .348/.367/.500
45 PA, .349/.378/.605
42 PA, .317/.333/.537
36 PA, .344/.417/.438
34 PA, .406/.424/.469
26 PA, .304/.333/.696
37 PA, .371/.389/.657
I'll hide the answer after the jump, but to conclude, we should really keep our expectations in check for the rest of the year. Gomez can be appreciated for what he is: probably the best defensive center-fielder in baseball, a gifted pinch runner, and probably the most valuable right side of a platoon in major league baseball. His 2.0 fWAR in 258 plate appearances last year makes him a roughly average player... over 600 plate appearances. None of this includes his flair for the dramatic on the basepaths, especially in the pinch-running role.
There's a lot of upside, of course. McCalvy's article describes it well. But he's had great stretches before, as have many other hitters who have come short of the potential seen in them by scouts and fans. I'm going to wait at least 150 plate appearances before making any sort of proclamation about Gomez actually possibly "getting it". Until then I'm going to keep enjoying watching him fill his role on the 2012 Brewers and appreciate how much he contributes to this team.