If you had asked me before the season to make a list of players likely to be 2013's most valuable Brewer, I might have started and stopped with Ryan Braun. If pressed further I probably would've named Yovani Gallardo, Aramis Ramirez or perhaps Kyle Lohse. I might even have rattled off a few more names before I would've gotten around to our winner, Carlos Gomez.
Gomez had a breakout year in 2012, posting a .260 batting average and an OBP over .300 for the first time. He hit 19 home runs, stole 37 bases and finally, after years of waiting, became the player we all thought he could be someday. Combine that with Gold Glove-caliber defense (although not the actual award) and you've got a solid organizational building block, if not an offensive star.
Gomez, though, wasn't done. He followed his career-best year in 2012 with another improvement in 2013. He set new career highs for hits (152), runs (80), doubles (27), triples (10), home runs (24), RBI (73), stolen bases (40) and walks (37). His .284 batting average, .338 on base percentage and .506 slugging were all the best marks of his career, and he was an All Star for the first time.
Gomez has now played seven seasons in the big leagues as a member of three organizations, so it's easy to forget that he's still only 27 (and turns 28 in December). He had a great year in 2013, but it's possible his best is yet to come.
Gomez had three or more hits in 12 games this season, scored three runs a couple of times and even posted the first multi-homer games of his career (two in three days on May 25 and 27). His biggest moment of the season had to come on defense, though, when he made this game-saving walkoff catch against the Reds on July 8:
The Brewers may have made one of their best moves in recent memory when they signed Gomez to a three-year, $24 million contract extension in March. Without that deal, Gomez would have been a free agent heading towards an enormous payday this winter. Instead, he's a long-term Brewer due just $7 million next season.