If you ask fantasy baseball players who the biggest disappointment in the 2015 season was, a number of players would come up. one of those players would be Ian Desmond who I discussed a few weeks ago; another name that you would be likely to hear is Carlos Gomez. Unlike Desmond, however, Gomez more than likely cost you a first round pick. On average he was drafted eighth because of his back to back elite seasons. He finished the season as the 178th player on ESPN’s end of season player rater.
In 2013 and 2014 Gomez had 20+ home runs and 30+ steals, and only missed these marks by 1 home run in 2012. In 2015 he did battle some injuries; there was a hamstring injury in mid April that landed him on the 15 day DL, hip issues in May that lingered into hip and leg issues in June, and ended up with an intercostal strain that kept him sidelined nearly two weeks in the middle of September. Gomez hits a fair number of doubles and triples, had 30+ stolen base in three straight seasons, and a well above average BABIP in 2013 and 2014, For someone who relies on quickness to generate a significant portion of his game, having leg injuries for a significant part of the season can be a potentially devastating issue.
We can see evidence throughout some of Gomez’s underlying statistics that the injuries may have played a part in his 2015 decline.
A player dealing with a hamstring and hip issues could be expected to have a lower than normal stolen base total, and a lower BABIP, which would naturally lead to a lower batting average. Since a baseball swings power comes from the ground up, through the hips, an injury to the hips will also hamper power numbers, resulting in lower ISO, wOBA, and home run totals.
Looking at plate discipline you can see that overall Gomez kept a similar approach at the plate.
|2012||38.2 %||76.4 %||55.6 %||59.6 %||85.7 %||75.9 %|
|2013||37.8 %||78.4 %||56.1 %||58.3 %||83.4 %||74.1 %|
|2014||39.7 %||82.3 %||57.3 %||60.7 %||84.4 %||74.8 %|
|2015||39.0 %||78.0 %||56.1 %||64.4 %||84.5 %||76.6 %|
|Career||37.6 %||73.6 %||54.3 %||60.2 %||85.2 %||75.9 %|
He swung at pitchers in and outside of the zone slightly more than his career average, but overall his swing rate was right in line with what we’ve seen in recent years.. His contact rate overall was slightly better than his career numbers with big gains coming on contact outside the zone. His contact inside the zone was lower than the career average, but just like the swing rate it was on par with the previous seasons.
|2012||4.4 %||21.7 %|
|2013||6.3 %||24.7 %|
|2014||7.3 %||21.9 %|
|2015||6.5 %||21.2 %|
The strikeout and walk numbers were also right in line with the previous outstanding years. In fact his strikeout numbers were better (slightly so) than any of the previous three seasons.
There were some declines that could be troubling. His hard hit rate was down 6% from 2014 and nearly 9% from 2013. Expectantly, his soft hit rate was up nearly 5% and close to 11% in the same years. Again, with power coming up through the hips it’s understandable that injuries to the legs and hips will hamper a player’s power, and understandable that the hard hit rate would drop.
While age will begin to play a factor in the decline of a player who relies so much on speed, much of the struggles Gomez experienced last year can be attributed to his injuries. I don’t expect him to replicate his 2013 and 2014 finishes, but I do expect a bounceback this season. He is playing in a stacked lineup, and could realistically bat anywhere from second to fifth depending on how he and a few of his teammates are playing. Regardless, he should receive plenty of RBI and scoring opportunities. I think he will come close to having another 20-20 season; a line of .275/.335/.450 with 20 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and 145 combined runs and RBIs (give or take) is what I am expecting from him. Streamer projections are a little less optimistic than I am with regards to his batting average and counting stats, but they closely resemble the Fangraphs Fan projections.
Gomez is currently going 55 overall, and 22 amongst outfielders. I believe there will be value there as he should jump into the top 15 at the position, and with some lucky breaks could even finish the year as a top 10 outfielders.
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