After a disappointing two-year tenure with the Twins, Carlos Gomez was shipped to Milwaukee this offseason in the J.J. Hardy trade. The Twins lost patience with the lynchpin of the Johan Santana deal, in part, because of his lack of patience.
During his time with the Twins, Gomez had a tendency to be overaggressive at the plate. He swung at the first pitch 42.4 percent of the time, the 4th highest percentage in the American League.
Swinging at the first pitch isn’t always a bad idea. But it isn’t a strategy that suits Gomez’s skill set. The types of players who swing at the first pitch are often power hitters. On an 0-0 count its often a good bet that you’ll see a fastball, and power hitters can use this to their advantage. A player such as Gomez, who isn’t relied upon to drive in runs, is more valuable and will often find more success when he’s working the count.
Carlos Gomez swung at the first pitch the fifth-most often of anyone in baseball. To give his aggressive tendencies some context, take a look at the AL leaders in 1st-pitch swing percentage over the past two seasons and each player’s slugging percentage.
Delmon Young: 47.2 (.413 slug pct)
Vladimir Guerrero 47.2 (.496 slug pct)
Josh Hamilton 46.4 (.494 slug pct)
Carlos Gomez 42.4 (.352 slug pct)
Magglio Ordonez 39.0 (.464 slug pct)
Gomez’s .352 slugging percentage is more than 50 points lower than anyone else in the top five.
But enough with the criticisms of Gomez, let’s focus on the positives and why he’s “One2Watch4.”
Carlos Gomez, Last 2 Seasons
While Gomez’s patience at the plate was disappointing during his time in Minnesota, he did show improvement. From 2008 to 2009 his 1st pitch swing percentage dropped by nearly seven percentage points. His percent of pitches taken also increased from 45 to nearly 49 percent. Both numbers could still improve further, but it’s a start.
Perhaps Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum will be able to put the finishing touches on Gomez’s approach at the plate. Under Sveum’s guidance in 2009 the Brewers were one of the league’s most patient teams. They took 56.9 percent of pitches, the 5th highest total in the league and the highest among non-playoff teams (the four teams above them: the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and Phillies).
There’s no denying that Gomez has work to do to live up to his original expectations. His raw numbers in 2009 were less than impressive. But if Sveum and the Brewers coaching staff can continue to develop his approach to the plate, there’s reason to believe Gomez could turn things around in Milwaukee.