And I'm saying this because I've just reread the story that you're about to read and it sounds like I'm anti-Gomez. I'm not. I liked him.
But he wasn't any good.
We bloggers and stats guys have enough to overcome. So how about we quit actively trying to look like morons?
In the joyous wake of the trade which sent Carlos Gomez to the Brewers for JJ Hardy, several otherwise sane and intelligent writers tried to point out that Gomez was undervalued because of his defense. Maybe that's true, and maybe it's not, but when it's carried it to the point where it's stated that Gomez had any present-value at all to a baseball team, it's officially gone too far.
Gomez is a very good, maybe even elite, center field defender. If you're looking for a statistic to try and measure it, Ultimate Zone Rating isn't a bad one, and his UZR states that he saves about 15 runs over an average center fielder every 150 games in his career.
But you can also measure offensive futility using stats, and OPS is a nice short-hand (and intuitive) way to do so. Here are the center fielders in the majors with 300 or more at-bats last year, sorted by OPS. See if you can find Gomez on the list. (Hint, scroll down):
|Gary Matthews Jr.||LAA||0.697|
Gomez wasn't just bad at that plate. He was awful. Eye-watering. Breathtaking. His badness approached "evil".
And how much did his defense make up? Not much. A bump in OPS of 4 to 5 points is generally worth a single run over 500 or so at-bats. So let's add a column which points out just how many runs better or worse each of these guys was over Gomez:
|Gary Matthews Jr.||LAA||0.697||+16|
So those 15 runs that he makes up defensively still leave him towards the bottom of the list. He was nowhere near average. He was bad. As in, not good. Beyond shaky. Poor. Inferior. Deficient. Lacking. Flawed. Substandard. Occasionally dreadful. Frequently appalling. Approaching abysmal.
To be fair, when a lot of people praised Gomez's value, their point wasn't really that Gomez was good. It was really:
1) "Hey, we've got these great defensive metrics that I want to show you!" I'm glad we have these defensive metrics. They're a step in the right direction. But a position player's defensive value is almost always dwarfed by the value of their offensive performance. Just because we can measure it now doesn't make it more important than it was a couple of years ago. Just clearer.
2) "Delmon Young is terrible." Which has absolutely been true. I'd love nothing more than to see the Twins bring in a veteran backup that can show Young how to conduct himself on and (maybe more imporantly) off the field. And, even better, threaten to take Young's job if he doesn't straighten out.
But that's far different than saying Carlos Gomez had any present-day value whatsoever. He was never part of the solution. He was always part of the problem. To argue anything else makes us look stupid.