Three years ago, Carlos Gomez split time with Nyger Morgan in centerfield. Gomez batted .225 while playing just 92 games and compiling 52 hits all season. Instead of being known for amazing plays, he was more frequently found making base running errors and missing the cutoff man in the field. But as it stands today, Gomez has not only made himself the best player on the Milwaukee Brewers, but the best in the league. He has transformed himself from a late inning replacement, to a bonafide MVP candidate who has been a catalyst in the Brewers’ impressive start.
When originally drafted by the New York Mets, Gomez was expected to be a franchise player. But after being rushed to the major leagues, Gomez struggled as a 21 year old rookie. During that season, he showed little power while batting .232. After this season, he was traded to the Twins as the key piece in the Johan Santana deal. While he showed flashes in Minnesota, his high strikeout rate and mental mistakes never allowed him to live up to the top prospect billing.
Finally, he was traded to Milwaukee after the 2009 season. In this trade the Brewers acquired the underperforming Gomez, for their own underachieving J.J. Hardy. In this deal both teams took risks on players who had failed to live up to their fullest potential. Early on in Milwaukee, Gomez continued to remain a disaster. He reached rock bottom as he split time in 2011 and batted a career low .225. It looked as if he was never going to turn into the player the Brewers believed he could be.
But, after a rough start to the 2012 season, Gomez appeared to turn the corner after the all-star break. During this time, Gomez batted .278 and went on a homerun binge, crushing 14 from mid-July to season’s end. He also continued to show a stellar glove in the field as well. These flashes of greatness gave the Brewers confidence when they signed him to a hefty contract extension in the off-season.
Last year Gomez completely lived up to his extension. Instead of making the contract look like a bust, Gomez made it look like a bargain. He not only won a Gold Glove by producing highlight-reel catches each night, but he was also in the MVP consideration by having his biggest offensive season of his career. He put together an all-star season in which he produced career highs in hits, homeruns, RBIs, batting average, and stolen bases. At the plate, he also showed a new found patience that allowed him to walk a career high 37 times. All of these awesome numbers also allowed him to finish first in all of baseball in WAR, (wins above replacement) even ahead of Angels superstar, Mike Trout.
This season Gomez has been even better. While being shuffled as both the club’s leadoff and cleanup hitter, Gomez has raked. He is among league leaders in batting average, homeruns, doubles, stolen bases, and runs. While he may take the hardest swings in all of baseball, he has again showed improving patience by walking 20 times and finding any way to get on base. In the field, he continues to take away runs with his glove as well.
Most Valuable Players are the ones who their teams cannot afford to lose. While it took years to happen Gomez has become that player in Milwaukee. Though the roster is loaded with skilled players, Gomez has clearly become the best. When he was drafted, many around baseball expected hoped he would become a player who a franchise could build around. From the time he was acquired the Brewers have remained patient as he has fully transformed into something special.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference