This turnaround talk about a certain Houston Astros center fielder may be premature.
However, that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. And yes, when I state a certain center fielder I actually mean Carlos Gomez.
But before you close your tab that has this article open, let me throw some numbers your way about the Houston Astros center fielder:
- Since April 24th through Wednesday’s game, Gomez has slashed a batting line of .296/.321/444; the previous 17 games saw Gomez slash .197/.222/.262.
- From Opening Day through April 23rd, Gomez has posted only a 28(!) wRC+; since then he has posted an 115 wRC+.
- Over the same time periods as above, Gomez has seen his hard hit rate increase from 22.2% to 33.3%.
Of course, these numbers are not equal sample sizes. His better numbers have come in just 27 at-bats while his earlier statistics were over 61 at-bats. So it is still premature to make a definitive statement like, “Carlos Gomez is turning it around”. But he is starting to lay the foundation of such an argument in the coming weeks if his current improvement hangs around.
So what has caused this recent improvement at the plate? The lack of dabs, perhaps? I somewhat joke about the dabs. I’m just not a fan of that celebration. But I digress.
First, it seems that his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) have gradually increased over the past week or two. Using the same timeline as the bullet points above, Gomez has witnessed his BABIP jump from .267 to .333. Some of this can contribute to just better luck than he had at the start of the season while the rest may be due to a slightly different approach to the plate.
One noticeable reason for that kind of improvement at the plate has seemed to stem partly from an increase in fly balls and line drives and a noticeable decrease in ground balls.
Gomez had his best seasons when he hit fewer ground balls, and in turn, generated more fly balls and line drives. This is particularly the case of line drives. So this kind of development over recent games should be taken as a positive sign. The possibility exists that the Astros will never see the high-level production from the Gomez of 2012-14 is very real. However, receiving a 2-3 WAR center fielder instead could still be achievable if he truly turns the corner.
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While these are encouraging signs from Gomez, the fact remains that he has hit no home runs and two RBI entering Wednesday’s rubber game against the Twins. However, he did manage to double his RBI total last night, so that’s a good sign. But the Astros will need more power and consistency from Gomez going forward. In other words, his most recent results better not be a short-term stretch. And don’t forget his negative BsR rating of -1.2, which just proves that there is still much work to be done.
Don’t forget that Gomez is 30-years old. His physical prime may be, or been, at its best already. But his recent play seems to suggest that his lower body is improving as the season progresses. And again, I must stress that the sample size is still too small to make any concrete statements. But Gomez regaining health should produce better results than what we saw in the first three weeks of the season. In the end, this is just all interesting numbers and thoughts to take into consideration.
Regardless, the fact that Gomez is starting to show some life is a good development for the Astros. This team needs a healthy and effective Gomez to help reach its full potential in 2016. There is no way around that. If Gomez doesn’t get going as he has shown in the past, the Astros goal of making the playoffs becomes more difficult.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs**