2015 was the worst year Gomez has had since his major breakout in 2012. He is also 30 years old and as we know speed can evaporate pretty quickly. So why the love for Gomez? Because the skills are all mostly intact and outside of the injuries, he should provide adequate value for where he is currently going in drafts: the 18th OF.
Let’s start this by saying that I don’t think Gomez will ever reach his insane 2013 or 2014 numbers ever again. The great news is that the market isn’t valuing him at those numbers. With the down year and the change in age to 30, he’s going somewhere in the 4th or 5th round according to NFBC ADP information. Quite the discount for a guy who was a borderline first round pick last year after finishing as the 10th best player overall in 2014 according to ESPN. He will never be a top 10 overall player again, but he can certainly crack the top 10 or top 15 for OF. He’s going 5 to 15 OF spots after that currently.
Speed has always been a major part of Gomez’s game, notching at least 34 SB from 2012-2014. Last year the 17 SBs seems like a major drop-off, but remember that Gomez fought through all kinds of lower body injuries for the majority of last year. He hurt his knee, hip, hamstring and the very specific “leg” injury. It’s quite reasonable to think that the injuries sapped a lot of his speed. It’s also reasonable to think that the injuries are a product of his age and I don’t have a strong counter to that. He did play at least 137 games the prior three years and outside of some minor injuries, he has mainly been healthy since his breakout. Maybe he’s breaking down but maybe it was a year of injuries and he’ll get back to his 30 steal self this year now that he should be healthy.
To go along with Gomez’s litany of lower body injuries, he also had a wrist injury and an intercostal strain. As we know, wrist injuries can sap power and intercostal strains make it very uncomfortable to take a full swing. These injuries could have played a large part in his HR total dropping to 12. His HR/FB plummeted to 9.7%. His previous low since his 2012 breakout was 13.4% the year prior. I am confident that he can get his HR/FB back up into the mid-teens which should get him close to 20 HRs. The move to Minute Maid is only a slightly worse park for power with a drop from 109 to 104. It still plays up for right handed power and I would expect Gomez to take advantage.
Gomez almost always batted 1st or 2nd for the Brewers. This allowed him to rack up big time run totals but always hurt his RBI opportunities, especially considering the bottom of the Brewers order always featured a pitcher. The Astros already have established guys at the top of the order and Gomez will likely slot in at 4th. Batting behind Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa should give Gomez plenty of opportunities to rack up RBI and it wouldn’t surprise me if he broke 80 this season. The bottom of the Astros’ order is nothing to laugh at either and that should give Gomez a healthy run total.
Now onto the bad news: batting average. It is highly unlikely that Carlos Gomez will ever bat above .280 again without some major BABIP luck. Last year his LD rate fell to 19.3 (was about 21% the prior two years) which aided in his BABIP dropping to .307 from around .340 the prior two years. Now the injuries probably aided in part of the BABIP drop, but the LD rate will have to improve if he wants to crack .270. I see more of a .260 hitter here moving forward. Never one to take a lot of walks, that likely leaves his OBP somewhere around .310-.320 which is a far cry from his .340+ days but nothing that will kill your team.
Ryan Braun finished as the 10th best OF according to ESPN last year and his line was 25 HR, 87 R, 84 RBI, 24 SB, and a .285 AVG. Michael Brantley finished as the 17th best OF and finished at 15 HR, 68 R, 84 RBI, 15 SB and a .310 AVG. I think Gomez can slot in somewhere between these two if he’s healthy. Steamer projects Gomez for 17 HR, 66 R, 63 RBI, 20 SB, a .256 AVG and a .316 OBP. I’ll give Gomez 21 HR, 76 R, 78 RBI, 29 SB, a .263 AVG and a .324 OBP.