Carlos Gomez is one of the dozen best players in baseball

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I was looking up some of Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez’s numbers today, basically just to make myself sad as a Twins fan frustrated by his becoming another player to thrive after leaving Minnesota. I then tweeted about how good Gomez has been, calling him one of the dozen best players in baseball, and I was surprised by how many replies I got acting like that was a ridiculous notion.

It’s not.

Look at how he’s developed as a hitter during the past three seasons:

2012: .260 batting average, 19 homers, 42 total extra-base hits, 37 steals, .768 OPS in 137 games.

2013: .284 batting average, 24 homers, 61 total extra-base hits, 40 steals, .843 OPS in 147 games.

2014: .317 batting average, 11 homers, 27 total extra-base hits, 9 steals, .974 OPS in 47 games.

Add it all up and during that two-and-a-half year span Gomez has hit .281 with 54 homers, 60 doubles, 16 triples, 86 stolen bases, and an .838 OPS in 331 games. Among the hitters with a lower OPS during that span: Evan Longoria, Nelson Cruz, Bryce Harper, Albert Pujols, Ryan Zimmerman, Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran, Mike Napoli, Justin Upton, Adam Jones, Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Rios, Jay Bruce.

Oh, and Gomez is a Gold Glove center fielder too.

Wins Above Replacement attempts to measure a player’s offensive, defensive, and baserunning contributions and dating back to 2012 he has the eighth-highest WAR total in all of baseball among position players. It’s fine to be surprised by how good Gomez has been lately, but at this point the only reason “he’s one of the dozen best players in baseball” might be mockable is that it undersells just how good he’s become at age 28.

And trust me, as a Minnesotan it pains me a great deal to say that.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.