Over the past two weeks, Jeff, Derek, Paul, and myself took part in a five-round mock draft to help kick off the writing season. As the World Series winds down, we all ramp up our writing for magazines and draft guides that seemingly hit the shelves earlier each year.
Mock drafts and a healthy dose of college basketball get me through the offseason months because I care for the NBA as much as I enjoy watching pitchers hit. I approach each one differently as I like to test out what kind of team I can put together if I do A or B to rehearse for NFBC or the LABR drafts. Here is the dirty little secret - we do these mock drafts to inform both you the reader and us the writer. From time to time, we will do something crazy to force the larger discussion from others on the merits or the insanity of the selection.
Maybe it is because we are deep into a very entertaining World Series, but the fact I drafted Carlos Gomez
fifth overall has not raised as many eyebrows as I thought it would when it was published the other day over at the Fantasy 411 blog
2013 was a career year for Gomez as well as a continuation of the skills he began showing off in 2012. Many will note that Gomez was 27 years old last season, but that theory is junk science
. Here is what Gomez has been able to do over the previous five season as he has gained experience and both mental and physical maturity at the major league level:
Gomez is unlikely to ever be a double-digit walk rate guy and a sub-20 percent strikeout rate is also something we will likely never see. That said, note the five-year improvement in his OPS as well as his Isolated Power. That's a sign of physical maturity and hitting the ball harder.
If we look at the RotoWire dollar value generator
, we see that Gomez's final value in a standard format 15-team mixed league was 11th overall. If we look at the ESPN Player Rater
, Gomez finishes two spots higher, but that tool assumes 10-team leagues. Either way, he ended the year as a first-round talent.
There were a few reasons I took him fifth overall. The first reason was it was an unconventional pick. Everyone expects someone like Robinson Cano
to be drafted after Miguel Cabrera
, Mike Trout
, Andrew McCutchen
, and Paul Goldschmidt
come off the board. As my eight or six-year-old would say, “boring!" Sure, Cano should go five, but what if he leaves Yankee Stadium as a free agent this offseason and signs with the Dodgers? Suddenly, he doesn't feel like a top-five pick. What if Chris Davis
goes back to his poor average days or Bryce Harper
and Carlos Gonzalez
have more health issues as they did this season?
The picks after Gomez were Davis, Cano, Harper, Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez
, Adam Jones
, Jacoby Ellsbury
, Albert Pujols
, Edwin Encarnacion
, and Clayton Kershaw
. As much as I love Encarnacion, I am not insane enough to draft him fifth overall because he does not add that much to the stolen base department. Is any one of those players demonstrably better than the other? I do not think so. I could almost make the case to take Adam Jones
higher as he has had two full seasons of consistent performance and has a nice home ballpark to help his numbers. When in doubt, go with the player who you feels offers the most upside because you are not picking for value in the first round, you are picking for production.
My comment when I drafted Gomez was that he was Trout-lite. I wasn't trying to slight Trout nor was I trying to fluff up Gomez, but from the fantasy category perspective, the two were not that far apart last season.
The two were close in home runs and Gomez bested Trout in steals by seven while Trout dominated the other three categories. It would take a miracle for the two to be closer in batting average, but other factors are in play for the other areas. Trout never hit lower than the third spot in the lineup all season, nor should he. It is one reason he saw 126 more plate appearances than Gomez despite playing in only 10 more contests. Gomez hit below the third spot for 422 of his 590 plate appearances with 345 of those coming from spots five through seven in the lineup. That is going to cut into a player's ability to score run on pure volume alone.
It also did not help Gomez that the three main run-producing cogs in the Milwaukee lineup - Ryan Braun
, Corey Hart
, and Aramis Ramirez
missed most or all of the season. Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy
were the only Brewer players to drive in more than 50 runs last season so the fact Gomez scored 80 is a minor miracle. Milwaukee's lineup will be more robust in 2014 which should help both his ability to score more often and drive in more runners. It is unlikely Gomez will be hitting that far down in the lineup as frequently this coming season.
We want Gomez to have more opportunities to get on base to utilize his stolen base skills. Gomez is 93 for his last 108 in stolen base attempts - which is an 86 percent success rate. That rate is one percentage point better than the career rate of Tim Raines who is widely lauded as the pre-eminent stolen base craftsman of the modern era. Rickey Henderson swiped more bases, but Raines was better at converting them.
If he can get his plate appearances at the top third of the order and have more opportunities to run, it is not impossible for him to post a season of at least 20 home runs, 50 stolen bases, and 90 runs scored and driven in. That particular type of season has been done by 11 different players in baseball history: Lou Brock, Ryne Sandberg, Barry Bonds, Brady Anderson, Craig Biggio, Eric Byrnes
(what???), Hanley Ramirez
, Cesar Cedeno (2x), Eric Davis (2x), Joe Morgan (3x), and Rickey Henderson (4x).
That's why I view Carlos Gomez
as a first-round talent, despite the batting average risk. The skill set is incredibly enticing as he continues to develop into what we had hoped B.J. Upton
would be five years ago when he was all of the rage.