Friday, April 2, 2010

Carlos Gomez Is A Terrible Lead-Off Hitter

If you lead off, your job is clear. You need to get on base. If you are on the Brewers and you get on base, it’s quite likely that you will be driven in by either Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder.

Want to see some scary numbers?

2009 - .287
2008 - .296
2007 - .288

Those are the OBPs of Carlos Gomez in the majors. A leadoff man should be close to .400. In a perfect world Carlos Gomez would be in a hot race against Yovanni Gallardo over who gets to hit 8th on opening day. Under no circumstances should he ever lead off anything.

And I thought we were past the point where we value steals at the top of the order. Steals are all well and good, but stealing a base in front of Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder is almost pointless. Both are very likely to get an extra-base hit, and for most of those being on first is as good as being on second, especially if you are fast enough to steal a base in the first place. You want to steal in front of singles hitters. You also want to make it when you attempt to steal.

Much has been made of Gomez’s success rate in the spring. That’s all fine and good, but when faced with Big League catching, Gomez is 59/80 or 73%. That’s basically the break-even point for stolen bases, though at the top of the lineup you are probably costing your team runs at that rate.

It’s actually hard to think of a worse lead-off hitter than Carlos Gomez. We like to make fun of Juan Pierre around here, but Juan’s career OBP of .348 makes him look like Derek Jeter compared to Gomez.

According to Anthony Witrado, Ken Macha thinks this might be a good plan. It’s a bad plan. A terrible plan. It’s managerial malpractice. Gomez is a high-ceiling guy who might develop into something worthwhile someday. He should do that developing at the back of the lineup where he belongs.

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