In his 1st season with the Twins, Carlos Gomez established himself as an All-Star caliber defensive player. His 3.15 range factor ranked 1st out of 28 regular center fielders according to Bill James’ research, which was significantly above the 2008 league average range factor at the position of 2.66. While he gets to a lot of balls in the outfield, he does need to improve his fielding percentage of .982 to join the pantheon of elite Twins defensive outfielders. By comparison, Torii Hunter has never had a fielding percentage lower than .987 and Kirby Puckett’s career fielding percentage was .986 in CF.
Gomez stars on the defensive side of the game, but it is the offensive side where he has the most upside. He is regarded by some among the Twins organization as having the most power potential on the major league roster outside of Justin Morneau. If the power comes soon, the Twins could have a 30 HR-30 SB star on their hands. He has already shown his speed stealing 33 bases while being caught 11 times. For the season as a whole, Gomez hit .258/.296/.360. When hitting leadoff he hit .247/.281/.345, but when Denard Span became the primary leadoff hitter and Gomez moved down to 9th in the order, his numbers improved to .286/.328/.400.
According to the statistical projections, 2009 does not appear to be the break-out season for Gomez. Baseball Prospectus projects him to hit .261/.310/.387 with 29 stolen bases. Bill James projects similar numbers with a .267/.310/.379 and 41 stolen bases. Like Delmon Young, Gomez has all the tools to be a superstar level player and he will most likely improve in 2009. Unlike Delmon Young I don’t see the breakout happening for Gomez this year, but I would not be shocked if it did. The best news of all is that the Twins have two 23 year old outfielders, both with at least a year of major league service now on their resume and both with the potential to become superstars. If they manage to breakout together this season, it could be a truly special season for the Minnesota Twins.