I remember when I first saw Carlos Gomez play for the Minnesota Twins and thought to myself that this guy has the chance to be something very special. Maybe not as special as Hawk Harrelson thought — claiming that he would become the next Rickey Henderson, but special nonetheless. However, the explosive outfielder had no idea how to properly use the five tools that he possessed with Minnesota, and was moved to the Milwaukee Brewers for JJ Hardy. That trade appeared to be a wash, figuring that Hardy had a very mediocre year for the Twins and Gomez was nothing more than a fourth outfielder. But Gomez isn’t even close to being a fourth outfielder anymore. In fact, Gomez is the best outfielder in baseball, according to fWAR.
Gomez’s always played with a flashy style that annoyed the opponent and their fans, but his quality performance can finally back up that flashy play. Coming into today, Gomez is on top of the fWAR leaderboard with a 2.1 fWAR. Considering that Gomez’s 2.1 fWAR is coming after a season where he had a career-high 3.2 fWAR, one can assume that this isn’t really much a fluke. Statistically nothing indicates a change of hitting style for Gomez; he still walks about the same and strikes out just as often as he normally does. His batted ball data, however, is where the answer lies. Basically, Gomez is hitting the ball a lot harder, and his fly balls are now leaving the park at a rapid rate. As it stands right now, Gomez’s line drive percentage is three points higher and his HR/FB% is four points higher.
Needless to say, Gomez has matured into a more than adequate hitter. I can’t imagine him being a .300 hitter with the amount of walks and strikeouts he has, but he can definitely be a four to five-win outfielder with his speed, defense and above average hitting numbers for a centerfielder.