I hope everybody who was blessed enough to watch and root for Carlos Gomez as a Brewer over the last six (six!) seasons appreciates what we had in him. Gomez’s tenure in Milwaukee ended Thursday; over 697 games, the center fielder compiled a .267/.325/.452 batting line, a 110 OPS+, 87 home runs, 152 stolen bases, two All-Star appearances, two seasons in the top 20 of the NL MVP vote, and a 2013 Gold Glove Award. Transitory as Gomez’s time in Milwaukee may have been, he exits as one of more decorated Brewers players in the franchise’s history.
In just those six years — only two as a full-time starter — Gomez managed to break into the franchise’s top 30 in hits (622, 27th), runs scored (364, 22nd), total bases (1,055, 23rd), doubles (122, 27th), triples (25, 10th), home runs (87, 22nd), RBI (288, 28th) and stolen bases (152, fourth). He did this all while flashing the most impressive outfield leather the Brewers have ever seen — at least since the days of Robin Yount.
I love the new feature Baseball-Reference recently added on the team pages with each franchise’s top 20 players by Wins Above Replacement (WAR). WAR, as flawed as it is, does a better job of any statistic of crossing positions, play styles and eras. As such, it makes perfect sense for compiling quick summaries of a team’s history.
That’s Carlos Gomez, third from the left on the second row. In just two-and-a-half years of starting and three-or-so years of part-time work, Gomez compiled the 13th-most WAR of any Brewers player to ever wear the uniform. He comes just a few WAR shy of Geoff Jenkins, the first-round pick who spent over a decade in Milwaukee. He compiled more than both Yovani Gallardo and Prince Fielder, homegrown stars who featured prominently in the Brewers’ most competitive years around the turn of the previous decade, and far more than others like J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart, who couldn’t crack the top 20.
Chances are that we won’t see a player as complete as Carlos Gomez in Milwaukee for a long, long time. Once Gomez got the OK from Ron Roenicke and his coaching staff to expand his strike zone and bat with the kind of unbridled energy that made Gomez both so effective and amazing in the field and on the bases, we saw the ascension of one of baseball’s brightest stars. But as good as Gomez was on paper and in a cold statistical sense, there was nothing quite like watching it happen.
There are multiple ways to play a great center field. Mike Cameron always amazed me not with his speed or athleticism but with his grace and fluidity. No matter where the ball was hit, it seemed like he knew immediately off the bat where it was going and could glide to the ball with ease. Gomez, on the other hand, was electric, off like a lightning bolt, diving and leaping when necessary, no part of the ballpark off limits.
And maybe nothing was better than Gomez’s celebrations, best shown when he conquered Tal’s Hill:
Or maybe when he robbed Joey Votto to win a game over the Reds:
But maybe my favorite play was this one he pulled against Houston’s Trevor Crowe in June 2013, after a Caleb Gindl bellyflop failed to catch a sinking line drive:
Gomez had a mastery of many aspects of the game; his power-speed combination is nearly unmatched across baseball, and few can use athleticism in the field to the extreme that he does. But what made him so fun to watch was the total effort and utter joy with which he played, a human emoji launching home runs and stealing bases and making diving catches all day long. All of that comes through in the play above, from his speed to get to the ball to the absolute laser beam he uncorks from the left field fence to his jubilation at making a play nobody in their right minds could have expected he (or anybody else) would make. Especially in a sport that, if it isn’t boring, we can at least say leans a bit to the austere side, the energy and joy Gomez brought were refreshing, a ray of sun poking through the typical cloudy baseball disposition.
And so while it’s too bad Gomez’s tenure in Milwaukee will mostly be known for mediocre teams and the legendary collapse of the 2014 squad, I feel safe saying my memories of Gomez himself will be nothing but positive. He was as unique and as bright a star as the city and state have ever seen on the baseball diamond, and I already miss seeing him a Brewers uniform day in and day out.
3 comments on “An Ode To The Uniquely Bright Carlos Gomez”
Here, here. Go Go was such a fun player to watch.