In a fantasy baseball draft, it is incredibly important to have identified as many players as possible who are multifaceted giving them the ability to help you in a myriad of categories. Ideally, you would want as many “five-tool” players as possible, but unfortunately, there are not that many in MLB. The owner who drafts the most balanced team has a much higher chance of taking down the league, and savvy owners will draft Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez in 2014.
Gomez came up in the New York Mets‘ system and was a personal favorite of mine when he was in New York prior to being traded to the Minnesota Twins in the Johan Santana deal. Unfortunately, the Mets were reluctant to deal outfielder Lastings Milledge and included Gomez instead; a move now that looks incredibly foolish as Milledge is no longer a Major League player and Gomez is blossoming into a star.
Gomez’s performance as a Twin was shaky at best, but he has found a home in Milwaukee over the course of the last four seasons, finally showing glimpses of what he is really capable of in 2012 when he hit .260 with 19 HRs and 51 RBIs to go with 37 stolen bases. His triples were low for a player with his caliber of speed (four) and his doubles total was not overly impressive (19). Perhaps what kept Gomez from having his breakout season in 2012 was his inability to walk (20 in 452 plate appearances) giving him a total .305 on-base percentage.
While 2012 might not have finished entirely as Gomez planned, the speedy outfielder parlayed it into quite the breakout season in 2013 — batting .284 with a surprising 24 HRs and 73 RBIs. Once again he stole over 35 bases with 40 which was a career-high, and he increased his on-base percentage to a serviceable .338, although he only walked 37 times in 590 plate appearances. He increased his doubles from 18 to 27, and started to really put his quickness to work increasing his triple total from four to 10. Overall, he went from accumulating 42 extra-base hits in 2012 to 61 in 2013, making him an incredibly useful and underrated fantasy baseball option when also taking into account his prowess for swiping bags.
Although the Brewers would finish with a subpar 74-88 record, Gomez and the young shortstop Jean Segura stepped up big time for Milwaukee and were two of the few silver linings for a club that was surrounded by turmoil stemming from Ryan Braun‘s performance-enhancing drug scandal and suspension.
Currently, Gomez is ranked as the eighth-best OF option and 23rd best player overall and has a 25.2 average draft position across many fantasy baseball sites according to the fantasypros.com charts. At 27 years old, it is fair to assume he is in his prime and only improving, and if that is the case, expecting him to bat .285 with 20-plus HRs along, 85 RBIs and 40-plus steals is far from a reach. Gomez still does not walk enough, but if he keeps his average up at that .285 mark, he should approach a .340 OBP making him an incredibly balanced fantasy baseball player and hard to ignore.
The two other outfielders you can anticipate having to pick between when considering Gomez are Miami Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton (27.4 ADP) and Los Angeles Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig (26.6 ADP). In 2013, Stanton only accumulated 50 XBHs (11 less than Gomez) with 24 HRs and 26 doubles; and Puig had 19 less XBHs than Gomez with 42 (19 HRs, two triples, 21 doubles), albeit in 40 less games.
Although I believe Puig is going to have a great season, I advise taking Gomez over both players considering neither Stanton nor Puig will steal anywhere near the amount of bases Gomez will and they should all have similar amounts of extra-base hits. Although Gomez will often still be available in the middle of the third round, do not be afraid to reach down to the second round to scoop him up — as it is unlikely you will find another player as balanced, and there is not a ton of speed available again until you start to reach the fifth round when Jose Reyes and the aforementioned Segura start to come off of the board.