Leading Off

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This March, the Brewers announced that Carlos Gomez would be batting in the leadoff spot. The move was so polarizing that it elicited such reactions as, “OK, then,” and “Yeah?” In truth, Gomez is not an ideal leadoff hitter. His career OBP isn’t very high, and his power is best utilized further down in the lineup. But the Brewers aren’t exactly a team with better options at leadoff, after trading Nori Aoki in the offseason, and, hey, the Gomez’s OBP has at least been trending in the right direction. Gomez posted the highest OBP of his career in 2013. So what if it was only .338?!

Gomez, though, continued improving, as he’s becoming one of the most valuable players in baseball. Gomez made some people roll their eyes with his first pitch swinging, and his aggressive approach, but as a leadoff hitter, Gomez hit .298/.374/.560. That’s a .374 OBP! Now add in 10 doubles, 2 triples, 10 home runs, and 7 stolen bases on 8 attempts, and Gomez put himself in scoring position, or scored, roughly 85% of the time he got on base, or roughly 30% of his plate appearances. You couldn’t ask for more from your leadoff hitter. Really, the only thing you could as of him is to move down in the order. Gomez essentially forced Ron Roenicke to move him out of the leadoff spot, not because he couldn’t get on base, but because he’s TOO GOOD TO HIT LEADOFF.

By and large, lineup construction at the major league level makes very little difference, but Gomez’s power has been something to behold this season. He really does need to be put in a place where he can drive runs in. Gomez has the 6th highest ISO (.361) in the majors against left-handed pitching. That number is so big that it actually makes his ISO against right-handed pitching seem modest (.231). That number is not modest at all, as it’s actually the 26th highest in the game.

Gomez hasn’t been hitting leadoff for some time, now, and rightfully so. However, Gomez isn’t going to maintain an ISO above .300 against lefties, Segura got back on track in May, but only to the tune of a .313 OBP, and Ramirez is coming back, soon. Will we see Gomez moving back to leadoff? The Brewers don’t have an ideal leadoff hitter, and that might just be good problem to have.

 

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