It’s been a long road to baseball prominence for Carlos Gomez. After bumming through two years with the New York Mets and one with the Minnesota Twins, the speedy outfielder finally found a home in Milwaukee. Even as a part-time player, Gomez showed improvement at the plate almost as soon as he put on a Brewers uniform. His wOBA has risen every season since, and he has gone from a 76 wRC+ player to creating 32% more runs than league average. We’re all aware that he’s become somewhat of a power hitter and has been able to draw more walks and get on base at a higher clip in recent years. Anyone who watches the Brewers can tell you that. But, one of the main reasons he’s a dominant threat at the plate is because he’s capitalizing in opportune moments.
When it comes to hitting, RE24, or run expectancy based on the 24 base-out states, attempts to quantify how well hitters capitalize on their opportunities. As you might have guessed, RE24 gives more credit for hits with runners on base than with the bases empty. Baserunners can also improve or diminish their RE24 by advancing on a wild pitch or stealing a base. This is one of my favorite statistics because it’s simple to understand and it’s a good way of measuring the context of a player’s performance.
Because FanGraphs can explain this much more thoroughly than I am capable of, here’s an excerpt from its library:
Calculating RE24 for a specific play or game is extremely easy as long as you are working with the appropriate run expectancy matrix. A run expectancy matrix presents the expected number of runs scored between a given point and the end of an inning based on the overall run environment, the number of outs, and the placement of the baserunners. For example, in the RE matrix below (run environment set at 4.15 runs per game), the expected number of runs given a runner on first and no outs is 0.831 runs.
|Runners||0 Outs||1 Out||2 Outs|
|1 _ _||0.831||0.489||0.214|
|_ 2 _||1.068||0.644||0.305|
|1 2 _||1.373||0.908||0.343|
|_ _ 3||1.426||0.865||0.413|
|1 _ 3||1.798||1.140||0.471|
|_ 2 3||1.920||1.352||0.570|
|1 2 3||2.282||1.520||0.736|
Unlike most sabermetric statistics, RE24 isn’t hard to calculate. Here’s more from FanGraphs:
To calculate the RE24 of a given plate appearance, simply take the run expectancy of the result of the play, subtract the run expectancy of the the starting state, and add in any runs scored during the play. For example, if the play started with a man on first and no outs there was an original run expectancy of 0.831. If the batter hits a single that results in the runner getting to third and the batter ending on first, the resulting run expectancy would be 1.798. Since no runs were scored on the play, you would simply do the following:
1.798 – 0.831 + 0 = 0.967 RE24
So, if Gomez was the hitter in the above scenario, he would be credited with 0.967 RE24. If he had failed to move the runner over, he would be docked -.342 RE24. A player with a 15.5 RE24 means he was about 15 runs better than the average player with the same amount of opportunities. Pretty simple, right?
Let’s get some perspective on this now. Mike Trout led MLB with a 64.54 RE24 in 2014, while Matt Dominguez‘s -34.96 was the league’s worst. Gomez, meanwhile, had a career high and baseball’s 33rd-best RE24 (25.43). His 34 stolen bases and baserunning skills surely helped, but he also hit considerably better with men on base (.313) than he did with no ducks on the pond (.268). And this may mean he’s not suitable for the leadoff position, but that’s something to look at at a different time.
Gomez’s year-by-year RE24 paints a pretty clear picture on how he’s improved as a hitter and how he’s been able to take advantage of the opportunities he’s faced.
He went from being the runt of the litter to one of the strongest and healthiest. All he needed was the freedom to swing away and reliable playing time. Credit Ron Roenicke for giving him the green light and credit Gomez for earning a spot in the lineup.
Look at the table again and remind yourself that Gomez strikes out. A lot. And remember, a strikeout decreases run expectancy. So, despite the fact that Gomez struck out 141 times last season, he still managed to have one of the game’s best RE24 by not striking out with runners on base. When Gomez batted with the bases empty, his strikeout rate was 24.9%. With runners on, he was set down on strikes at a 16.8% rate. Basically, Gomez struck out at the perfect moments.
Gomez is just entering his prime, and even though RE24 is not a predictive stat, it’s still fair to assume his will continue to rise as it has since 2008.