Collette Calls: Breaking Down Carlos Gomez

Collette Calls: Breaking Down Carlos Gomez

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

Houston Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart on Monday the following about Carlos Gomez, "I think he's going to have to turn it around at some point otherwise we're not going to be able to continue to play him."

It is not often you hear a front office person say something like that about a player to the media, but that is the point where the Astros are with Gomez. Gomez has since been placed on the disabled list with a core muscle injury, but that injury has not been present this entire season, so it would be dishonest to blame all of his struggles on this recent issue.

Entering the season, industry touts were bullish on Gomez. He went for $26 in the Mixed Tout Wars draft to our own Derek Van Riper. In AL Tout, Ron Shandler paid $29 for Gomez, and I was right there with him bidding him up because in Mixed LABR, Paul Sporer and I used a fourth-round pick on Gomez. Gomez was the third pick of the second round on the Tout Wars Mixed draft by Patrick Mayo. Needless to say, we as an industry liked him.

Why you ask? That's rather simple. He had a strong 2013 and repeated it in 2014 across all five categories. In 2015, he was able to put up league average numbers in the power metrics and a double-double season in home runs and steals despite missing nearly 50 games with a variety

Houston Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart on Monday the following about Carlos Gomez, "I think he's going to have to turn it around at some point otherwise we're not going to be able to continue to play him."

It is not often you hear a front office person say something like that about a player to the media, but that is the point where the Astros are with Gomez. Gomez has since been placed on the disabled list with a core muscle injury, but that injury has not been present this entire season, so it would be dishonest to blame all of his struggles on this recent issue.

Entering the season, industry touts were bullish on Gomez. He went for $26 in the Mixed Tout Wars draft to our own Derek Van Riper. In AL Tout, Ron Shandler paid $29 for Gomez, and I was right there with him bidding him up because in Mixed LABR, Paul Sporer and I used a fourth-round pick on Gomez. Gomez was the third pick of the second round on the Tout Wars Mixed draft by Patrick Mayo. Needless to say, we as an industry liked him.

Why you ask? That's rather simple. He had a strong 2013 and repeated it in 2014 across all five categories. In 2015, he was able to put up league average numbers in the power metrics and a double-double season in home runs and steals despite missing nearly 50 games with a variety of ailments including back, shoulders, knees, and toes. As you can see from the image below, a lot of his poor performance in 2015 came during a late stretch in the summer as the injuries piled up.

Additionally, his plate skills held up despite the injuries, which is tough to do when your body is failing you in multiple places.

YEARBB%K%ISOHARD%LD%FB%OOZSWING%SWSTR%ZONE CONTACT%
2013625.222372138361483
2014722.193362241391484
2015721.154311938381385

The drop in power and hard contact could be somewhat excused by the injuries, but everything else was right in line with the previous two seasons. The concern was enough to keep him below the $30 threshold where he ended up after the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but the industry as a whole bid and drafted aggressively assuming a full return of Gomez's health.

Even when he was healthy this year, he was downright putrid. Gomez is hitting .182/.238/.248 with a 29 wRC+ (100 is league average) and is striking out an alarming 35 percent of the time. To demonstrate just how bad the numbers look, let's add this year's numbers to the earlier graph and table:

YEARBB%K%ISOHARD%LD%FB%OOZSWING%SWSTR%ZONE CONTACT%
2013625.222372138361483
2014722.193362241391484
2015721.154311938381385
2016534.066251736321974

Looking at Gomez's 100-game rolling wOBA, the drop-off statistically begins during last year's All-Star break. Since that point, Gomez has seen 1,313 pitches over 342 plate appearances and has hit .212/.279/.313 with a 7 percent walk rate and a 26 percent strikeout rate. We have enough of a sample to be concerned about his strikeout rate, his walk rate, his lack of homers and the changes to his flyball rate. The bigger concern comes from the previous table and the last three areas of it.

Gomez's increase in strikeouts and swinging strikes is not coming from him expanding his zone. In fact, he's chasing fewer pitches out of the zone than he ever has in his career. The alarming issue here is he is getting beaten, badly, within the strike zone. When pitchers are challenging a batter like that within the zone, they're telling the batter they're not afraid of him. If you watch some of Gomez's plate appearances, he's trying to make them pay for their bravado with every one of his swings. The video below is a prime example of those types of swing.

That's a 1-2 changeup that Henry Owens missed inside the strikezone with and Gomez was still over the top of it as he tried to hit the pitch 600 feet. By the time that pitch is crossing the plate, Gomez's left hip is already over into Baton Rouge and his swing has already taken the bat through the zone allowing the ball to safely cross the outer edge of the plate without being touched.

It is that type of pitch that is giving Gomez the biggest issue as 19 of his 45 strikeouts have come on pitches out there and 27 of the 45 have come on stuff down and in or down and away, according to the MLB StatCast data.


On pitches within the strike zone, Gomez has traditionally raked and has not had issues with contact. This year, it is a completely different story.

YEARAVGSLGISOCONTACT%SWSTR%
2013.310.597.2868215
2014.341.605.2648016
2015.310.530.2308016
2016.244.333.0906924

Gomez is being pitched to without any fear because he isn't doing anything with strikes. He's up there swinging like Bartolo Colon as the plate, but even Colon has a glorious home run this season. Despite Gomez's aggressive hacks at the plate, the approach is not translating to any gains in exit velocity as most of his outputs are on the low side this season.

Simply put, Gomez is an absolute mess at the plate. Manyofhiskeyindicators are pointing in terrible directions. While baseball is anything but linear, Jeff Luhnow is spot on in saying something has to change in order for Gomez to stay in the lineup. It may be against Gomez's nature, but he must cut down on his swing and focus on contact rather than trying to break out of this prolonged slump with one swing.

It isn't the news fantasy players want to hear, but Gomez should already be out of your fantasy lineup and needs to stay on your bench until he shows any sign of changing his approach at the plate. Pitchers are challenging him time and time again, and he's failing and flailing at alarming rates.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999, and here at Rotowire since 2011. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls, as is the 2023 AL LABR champion. Jason manages his social media presence at https://linktr.ee/jasoncollette
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