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Trying to Say Nice Things About Gomez

00113335photo © 2009 Keith Allison | more info (via: Wylio)
Carlos Gomez was a popular target for scorn in 2010, and with the likes of Jeff Suppan and Trevor Hoffman no longer with the team, you would think he’s the odds-on favorite for “least liked Brewer” heading into the 2011 season. I’ve had my own ups and downs with GoGo — scoring the game-winning run from first on a sac bunt by Craig Counsell against the Cubs was probably my favorite moment of 2010 — but it’s been mostly downs.

Lorenzo Cain is no longer an option, Chris Dickerson is still a bit of an unknown commodity despite playing well at times last year, and any prospects that could potentially replace Gomez are still a year or two away. I do like the additions of Brandon Boggs, and most recently, Brandon Jones, but Gomez still looks like he’s the main option in center.

So I guess we have to try to find some reasons to like him.

I’m not talking about his glove today, because there’s plenty to like there, even if he occasionally makes a boneheaded throw to the wrong base or misses the cutoff man. As it stands, he’s the only above average defender in the starting lineup. Everyone else ranges from “terrible” to “bad.” Instead, I thought I’d take a look at his offensive numbers from last season and try to find something — anything, really — that could show some improvement.

His OBP and SLG improved over 2009, his last year with the Twins. Sure, those numbers were still below .300 and .360, respectively, but it’s something…right? The uptick in SLG led to a small increase in his ISO (SLG-AVG), as well.

His wOBA cracked .300 for the first time in his career. His success rate on bunt hit attempts was more in line with career averages after a down 2009. His WPA was still in the negatives, meaning he subtracted from the Brewers’ win probability, but he hurt his team less than he ever has in his career, which is nice. He hit fastballs better than he ever has in his career.

Sure, he swung at pitches out of the strike zone more than he ever did outside of his rookie year (39.2% O-Swing% in 2010), but he made contact on 64.8% of those swings, which was a career high. That’s something, right?

Alright, so he’s probably still going to be pretty pathetic with the bat, and I still wake up sweating at night after having nightmares of Gomez and Betancourt hitting back-to-back. But at least the defense will be appreciated in center. With Hart and Braun to his left and right, along with Betancourt and Weeks trying to go back on balls hit to the shallow outfield, that range is going to be needed.