Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #27 Carlos Gomez

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Happy Tuesday. Happy March 5th. Happy Another-day-of-mother-nature-making-up-for-the-last-two-years-in-southeastern-Wisconsin-by-dropping-a-bunch-of-snow-on-it.

Well, that last one isn’t so happy I suppose, but as the mail must go through so must “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” go on!

Today’s profile is on a man who took a pretty big step forward over the course of the last 12 months…

Carlos Gomez.

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It was this time last year, as we sit 27 days away from Opening Day at Miller Park, that I spoke glowingly of the defensive prowess of one Carlos Argelis Gomez while questioning his plate discipline as he would begin the season in a platoon with 2011 playoff hero Nyjer Morgan.

Some things changed while others have remained the same.

Gomez is still a plus defender, using his plus-plus speed, jumps, and reads to cover an incredible amount of ground in center field. He gets turned around once in a while and occasionally doesn’t take the best path to the ball, but the same can be said of any centerfielder.

Speed on the bases was certainly still there for Gomez as well in 2012, even more so than before. He stole a career-high 37 bases during the regular season at an 88.1% success rate. Part of the reason he was able to steal so many bags was that he got on base at the highest rate in his career to this point. And while it may have only resulted in a .305 OBP, that’s still seven points better than his previous best and 29 points higher than 2011.

His increased on-base percentage wasn’t the only change for Gomez though, not was it the only career-best mark he would put up in 2012. Gomez posted bests in all three components of his slash stats (batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage), home runs, and stolen bases. Furthermore he’d have posted bests in many more of his counting stats had he been healthy all year and/or wouldn’t have had to begin the year in that platoon.

In 2008 as a Minnesota Twin, Gomez had his statistical second best full season. Here is that full line:

.258/.296/.360, 79 R, 149 H, 24 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR*, 59 RBI, 33 SB (44 ATT), 25 BB, 142 K

Of those, only the seven home runs wasn’t a career-high entering 2012. Now compare that to his 2012 as a Brewer:

.260/.305/.463, 72 R, 108 H, 19 2B, 4 3B, 19 HR, 51 RBI, 37 SB (42 ATT), 20 BB, 98 K

The major difference? 614 plate appearances in 2008 and only 452 in 2012. I’ll let you do the math yourself if you so choose, but suffice it to say that Gomez would have likely surpassed his totals in at least four  more categories.

Yes, you can pretty easily state the case that 2012 was a bit of a breakthrough for Gomez. Even better though is when you consider that other than a hot start in April in limited playing time, Gomez best months were July, August, and September. He finished strong while getting better. And other than a terrible June in which Gomez hit just .188 in 64 at-bats, he didn’t hit lower than .250 in any month. Perhaps these jumps can be contributed to everything finally “coming together” for Gomez. After all, a player’s “Age 27″ season is often referred to as when a player will be in the prime. The confluence of physical conditioning, training, and mental acumen are flowing together as good as they will for a professional baseball player.

The only thing about that? Carlos Gomez was 26 years old last season.

Other things that have changed for Gomez include his role. No longer will he be in a platoon in center field unless he plays his way back into one somehow. It’s his job to start the year. Logan Schafer can fill in as a worthy backup from time to time, but the job Gomez does both while his cleats are on both grass and dirt will impact this Brewers team plenty.

Gomez will be playing 2013 under a one-year deal worth $4.3 million. The contract was agreed upon to avoid arbitration. It was his last year of arbitration eligibility though and unless a contract extension somehow worked out with agent Scott Boras before the season ends (it won’t be), Gomez stands to enter free agency at the beginning of his prime. Boras rightfully sees big dollars on the horizon for Gomez. As such Gomez is looking to capitalize all over the playing field so he can do likewise off of it this winter. Whether that will be as a Milwaukee Brewer in future years remains to be seen but Gomez certainly likes it in Milwaukee which isn’t a detriment to contract negotiations. Obviously it isn’t all it takes either. I never said it was.

For the outlook of his 2013 season and beyond to be properly fulfilled though, Gomez must keep his legs healthy. Speed goes first, they say, so while his speed is still very much intact, Gomez must make the most of it this year. That’s good for Gomez and good for the Brewers if he’s playing up to all of his natural ability.

Gomez must control it though and stay within himself when the occasion demands it. His all out style resulted in a trip to the disabled list in early May as he strained a hamstring. He was activated 16 days later but it took him some time to get back up to full gait. His numbers suffered through June certainly in part because of it.

To aid himself in a productive “Age 27″ season, Gomez did one thing that many didn’t think he would. He put his national pride aside. After being named to the provisional roster of his native Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic, Gomez eventually decided that April through October of 2013 was more important to him and his future than March of 2013.

If Gomez is able to maintain that level of dedication to his craft this year and finally realize the potential that once caused him to the be the centerpiece of the trade that sent an in-his-prime Johan Santana to the New York Mets…

Yeah. That.

You can follow Carlos Gomez on Twitter: @C_Gomez27

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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