Carlos Gomez Fully Breaks Out

Once a speedy, excellent defensive center fielder with questionable offensive skills, Carlos Gomez has made himself into a five category fantasy contributor. And with the value of his glove added in, he was baseball’s fourth best player this year by WAR. Though his breakout began in the second half of 2012, he carried over his new found batting talents and had himself a career year, posting a .363 wOBA and going 24-40 to the delight of his fantasy owners. Of course, this type of performance has fantasy owners giddy and in a recent mock draft, he was selected 25th overall. Fantasy owners are notorious for valuing players based on a “what have you done for me lately?” philosophy, so let’s figure out if this time it is warranted.

Before 2011, Gomez was an all-speed, little power guy whose highest ISO mark was just .142, posted at Double-A back in 2006 while in the Mets organization. Then something happened in 2011 during a partial season — his ISO jumped to .177 and his HR/FB rate climbed above 10% for the first time. His average home run and fly ball distance validated the power surge, rising from 274 feet in 2010 to 288 feet in 2011. At age 25, it was perfectly reasonable to believe that he was experiencing a legitimate power spike.

Sure enough, he carried that over to 2012 as he maintained the same batted ball distance, but boosted his ISO even higher to .202. Impressively, all this extra power didn’t stop him from running, as he still managed to steal 37 bases in 43 tries. But just a league average BABIP supported by too few line drives and too many pop-ups prevented him from being a true five category contributor.

Then 2013 came along and he was handed the every day center field job from the get go. His batted ball distance remained essentially the same as it was the previous two seasons, but once again, his ISO and HR/FB rates increased, this time to .222 and 16.4%, respectively. Even better, he took care of his one glaring weakness, his batting average. His BABIP soared to .344, as he posted a career best line drive rate and a career low IFFB%. His xBABIP of .324 suggests he was a bit lucky, but not overly so.

Unfortunately, with all the excitement, there are some red flags. He has been swinging and missing at a higher rate every year since 2009 and just set a new career high this season. He continues to swing at pitches outside the zone at a rate well above that of the average hitter. He rarely walks. Some fantasy owners like to think that a trend will just keep continuing, meaning that Gomez will keep getting better and his HR/FB rate will take another step up. That is not how it works though and the better bet is that he has peaked. His current performance is either sustainable or due for a bit of regression.

Because of his contact issues, Gomez is going to be at the mercy of his BABIP. With a career mark of just .311 and an xBABIP below what he posted this year, you have to assume a batting average decline is coming. That would hurt his OBP and all else being equal, reduce his stolen base opportunities. Luckily, Gomez has been an excellent base stealer, so he should continue running frequently for the foreseeable future.

The power appears to be mostly for real, although the percentage play is to project a bit of regression. Perhaps a 14% HR/FB rate and a .190-.200 ISO. The overall package remains pretty darn good for fantasy purposes, but it’s hard to imagine him earning his expected draft cost. Taking him 25th overall is just too expensive for me.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

15 Responses to “Carlos Gomez Fully Breaks Out”

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Ha, I don’t subscribe to Rotowire so I didn’t read the entire explanation, but I’m pretty sure Jason doesn’t actually value him there (he posted an article about it on that site). Seems like he just wanted to create discussion. I don’t agree with that way of drafting, but clearly many in the industry use mocks to do such a thing.

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  1. Brad Johnson says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    25th smells fine to me. Not too many players project to 60 HR+SB and those guys go in the first round.

    Granted, there is a lot of potential for disappointment in that pick, but I’m having trouble finding somebody that I prefer after Trout and Braun. fwiw, I haven’t done much OF analysis yet, so that could change.

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    • gump says:

      Seems like more of a 2nd/3rd 50 HR+SB project than a first rounder. Any other position would have him late 1st early second though

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      He’s barely going to contribute in average and his runs scored and RBI won’t be as high as a typical 2nd rounder. So you’re giving up better options in 3 categories for all those extra steals, and the HRs as well won’t be that much better than replacement level in a 12 team mixed league.

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    • gorillakilla34 says:

      “I’m having trouble finding somebody that I prefer after Trout and Braun”

      Andrew McCutchen maybe?

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  2. I think it’s interesting that a Gomez and Adam Jones piece come out on the same day on Fangraphs.

    They strike me as similar players in that they have showcased a high skill level (now that Gomez did it in 2013), but have notable fleas that many basic and advanced stats can point out. These are two guys you draft not feeling great about it, but they are outliers in that they are able to produce even with OBP and contact rate issues.

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  3. Train says:

    Mike, if I am reading tis right, his batted ball distance has remained about the same since 2011 at around 290 feet yet his hr/fb has gone from 11.4 to 14.3 to 16.4. Are there any indicators that his hr/fb relationship to batted ball distance was unlucky in 2011 or lucky in 2013?
    Thanks for the great articles and insightful analysis.

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      You are correct. In my FanGraphs+ article, I’m introducing batted ball angle into the xHR/FB equation, so let me see if he has pulled the ball more. He actually has pulled the ball more ever so slightly each year since 2011. But just given his progression, the likely scenario is some pull back.

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  4. Brian McCann says:


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  5. beastly33 says:


    Noticed that you ranked Carlos Gomez 11th overall in your top 300. Can you let us know what changed your thinking on him since November?

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    • FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Nothing. I just projected him and then ran my dollar values, and that’s where he ended up! This is precisely why it is very difficult to try valuing players before actually projecting them and valuing the stat line.

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