Will the Houston Astros’ Carlos Gomez return to form in 2016?
The Houston Astros came into the trade deadline in 2015 as buyers for the first time in what seemed like forever. How did they use it? On July 30th, the Astros traded outfielders Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, right-handed pitcher Adrian Houser, and left-handed pitcher Josh Hader to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers and centerfielder Carlos Gomez. The centerpiece of the deal, Gomez, a two-time National League All-Star for the Brewers in 2013 and 2014, has high expectations in his first full season in an Astros uniform.
Gomez came to the Astros with high hopes to match the numbers he had the two years prior. In 2013 and 2015, Gomez hit .284 with 47 home runs, 147 RBIs and 74 stolen bases. Between those two seasons Gomez had an average OPS of .838 with an average base percentage of .347.
Coming into spring training, Gomez was projected to be one of the best offensive outfielders in the National League for the Brewers in 2015. However, injuries to his back, hamstring, leg, and hip hindered his performance. In 2015 with the Brewers and the Astros, Gomez hit .255 with 12 home runs, 56 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases in 115 games.
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As we look deeper into Gomez’s stats, the numbers are there for him to come back to normal. In 2015, his BABIP was .307, and his strikeout percentage has dropped for the last two seasons to 21.2%. However, his home run to fly ball percentage is his lowest since 2010 and his hard hit ball percentage was his lowest since 2011. Also, with all the injuries to the lower part of his body, Gomez struggled in the stolen bases department recording his highest caught stealing total since 2008. Here are his projections for 2016.
2016 will be a different kind of year for Gomez. First of all, because of all the injuries to his lower body, the stolen base will become a lesser part of his game. It will affect his range a bit in the vast centerfield of Minute Maid Park, but as a former Gold Glover, Gomez will adjust.
Also, his stats will waver based on where A.J. Hinch feels most comfortable with Gomez in the lineup. The stats above are based on him batting fourth or fifth in the lineup. His RBI totals will come back to his All-Star level because of the talent above him will give him a plethora of opportunities to drive runners in.
Gomez will also provide a spark and fire for the clubhouse as he did in the last part of 2015. With a full year ahead of him alongside vocal leaders such as George Springer, Gomez’s fire can set the tone for this team not only in the regular season but come playoff time.
He may never live up the expectations of what he was in Milwaukee in 2013 and 2014, but as an upcoming free agent in 2017, he will up his game to fit the needs of an offensive force in centerfield and a clubhouse leader for the Houston Astros.
Stats from Fangraphs