Bust no more: Carlos Gomez has been one of the best players in baseball

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Carlos Gomez continued his breakout season yesterday by smacking two homers against the Twins, who acquired him from the Mets as a prospect in the Johan Santana deal and traded him to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy two disappointing seasons later.

Gomez was a bust in Minnesota, hitting .248 with a .645 OPS in 290 games, and he produced similarly underwhelming numbers through his first two-and-a-half years in Milwaukee. But then something clicked around the All-Star break last year.

Since the beginning of last season’s second half Gomez is hitting .300 with 24 homers, 24 doubles, 35 steals, and an .883 OPS in 123 games. Toss in his always excellent defense in center field and he’s been one of the best all-around players in baseball for nearly a full season.

Among all MLB hitters with at least 100 games since last year’s All-Star break his .539 slugging percentage ranks seventh, behind only Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, and Adrian Beltre. Trout is the only other center fielder ahead of Gomez during that time and the next-highest center fielder is Adam Jones in 26th place.

In other words, only Mike Trout’s historically amazing performance has kept Carlos Gomez from being the best center fielder in baseball for the past 10 months. And now the Brewers look awfully smart for signing the 27-year-old to a three-year, $24 million extension in March.

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

New Era
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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: