A lot of the hand-wringing over the Brewers' offense in 2010 is stemming from the fact that the team is replacing two hitters who are normally above-average (Mike Cameron and J.J. Hardy) with two players who are defensive wizards carrying some major questions about their offensive ability. While it's still too soon to make any judgments about Alcides Escobar's progression, it does look like Carlos Gomez has been making strides that aren't entirely visible in his traditional stats.
On the surface, Gomez looks to have regressed last season. His batting line was down from .258/.296/.360 in 2008 to .229/.287/.337 in 2009. Gomez blamed it on a lack of consistent playing time, as he fell out of Ron Gardenhire's good graces for a variety of reasons (a combination of poor performance and bone-headed behavior on the field).
So how could I possibly sit here and say that he actually showed signs of improvement? You have to take a deeper look at some of his rate statistics.
While the OBP was still abysmal, his walk percentage did increase from 4.1% to 6.3%. His walk-to-strikeout ratio improved from 0.18 to 0.31. His line drive percentage increased for the second straight year, going from 17.4% to 19.2%.
Is he going to be an above-average performer like Mike Cameron was? Not anytime soon. Is he going to be a black hole? Not if he continues to improve. Yes, he's already been in the majors for 2.5 years, but he's only going to be 24 this season -- the same age as Mat Gamel. He's essentially had to learn how to become a baseball player in the Major Leagues, thanks to aggressive promotions by the Mets and the Twins feeling pressure to play him as the centerpiece of the Johan Santana deal.
There's still time for him to live up to his amazing physical tools -- it's just a matter of putting it all together. Considering we saw something finally click for Rickie Weeks last year, is it really that far out of the question for the same to happen with Gomez this year?