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

28 Comments

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.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.