Carlos Gomez needs to go-go away. Fast.
Go-Go Gomez is 22 years old and is blazing fast. This we know for a fact. He is also supposed to be a great lead-off hitter and have great patience. This we hope is a fact.
He does have 21 stolen bases on the season, but Gomez has not been a great lead-off hitter this year, nor has he displayed great plate discipline at all.
In fact, Gomez has led off in all but three of the 92 games he has appeared in. When leading off Gomez’s numbers are .249/.284/.350. He has an OPS of .634 and a .321 batting average on balls in play.
He has been awful this year, especially this past month.
Gomez started off on a tear when he first arrived with the Twins. In his first ten games Gomez was 5-1 in stolen base attempts, and had a .326/.356/.465 batting line with an .821 OPS. He didn’t have a home run yet, only one triple and four doubles, only four RBI, but he was performing the way Twins fans thought he would perform.
The thing that should have set the management off, though, was his K/BB ratio. In his first twenty games Gomez had struck out 24 times while only drawing two walks. That is simply not good at all.
At that twenty game mark Gomez had batted first in the lineup every game he was in. He had an OBP of .247 to go with a batting average of .230 and a slugging percentage of .310. He still had only five doubles, one triple, and no long balls. His OPS was also down to .557.
When we skip down to Gomez’s 40th game, we find much of the same. A line of .270/.301/.409 went with an OPS of .710. He had stolen 15 bases, but only had 14 RBI to go with it. The worst figure of all was again his K/BB ratio: 44 strikeouts to go with a measly six walks.
Gomez was not patient.
Another thing to consider is how little he was rested during this stretch. Gomez played every single one of the Twins first twenty games, and took only five games off during the second twenty. He has taken one game off since May 17th. At the tender age of 22, I think he should be given at least a few more days of rest.
To this day, Gomez has struck out 98 times and has drawn only 15 walks. His strikeout total is seventh in MLB, while his walk total is ninth worst in MLB.
When you add that to Gomez’s .285 OBP (which ranks 82nd out of 83 batters who qualify) and the fact that he has led-off every game he has started, you start to wonder why he isn’t batting ninth or down in Rochester yet.
The reason Gardenhire puts behind his insistence of putting Gomez at the top of the order every night is because he doesn’t want to “devastate” the 22-year old. Come on, you’re kidding, right? Since when does Gardenhire care more about a player’s feelings than his teams’ chances of winning?
Of course, there is his defensive range that may be play a part in this decision (or lack of). Gomez has a defensive fielding percentage of .980. He has only made three errors this year, and appears to be in control when in the outfield (despite his saying that he sometimes gets bored and chews his nails). His range factor is significantly above the major league average for his position in the same number of games.
Were Denard Span to replace Gomez in center field and the first batting position, a drop in defensive performance were certainly be evident. The question then would be whether his significant raise in on base percentage would be worth the drop in defensive production.
I think so. Span currently has an OBP of .411, 126 points above Gomez. If Span had every plate appearance that Gomez has had this year, there would have been a total of 49 more baserunners that would have had an opportunity to score. Based on Minnesota’s percentage of baserunners that score, that would have translated to 19.11 more runs than Gomez has produced.
Statistics and mentality aside, Gomez simply needs to go away. He has provided Gardy with another player in addition to Punto to develop a “man crush” on, and he hasn’t been very effective at all.
Do I worry about his potential as a baseball player? Certainly not. He has every chance to be a superstar, and I’m obviously all for it. I am simply worried about the year 2008. I honestly do not believe that the Twins can make postseason play with Gomez batting first in the lineup.
One of two things need to happen very fast. Either Gomez needs to be moved to the ninth position in the lineup with Span taking his place, or Gomez needs to spend a few weeks in Rochester with hitting coach Riccardo Ingram.