The Carlos Gomez saga continues. In 124 plate appearances with the Rangers, since being abandoned by the Astros, Gomez is hitting .291/.371/.564 with six doubles, eight homers and 24 RBI. Since moving to the leadoff spot (16 games ago), he’s been even better: 349/.406/.698 with four doubles, six homers and 15 RBI. His Rangers numbers, if sustained over a full season, would represent 40+ home runs, 120+ RBI, etc. So, what happened?
Possible answers: (i) He got a new opthmalogist, a better one than the one who prescribed the contact lenses with which he was a dud, a doctor who could provide contacts that enabled him to see the ball as well as he had seen it with the glasses he wore during a brief hot streak with the Astros this summer; (ii) he got a new hitting coach, a better one than the Astros’ coaches who have also overseen the sharp declines in the offensive production of two of the team’s four stars (Correa and Springer) and several of the lesser players; (iii) he likes the Rangers’ players and coaches better; and (iv) he is a mercurial head case who will never again sustain a consistently high level of performance over an extended period.
I vote for all of the above. Of particular interest is the possibility that Gomez is way happier in Arlington than he was in Houston. It does not escape detection that the Astros have a distinctive style, a personality, one that is thus not necessarily everyone’s dish of tea. Despite all the enthusiasm and energy displayed by the team in general and especially its leaders (Springer, Altuve, and Correa), there is a fundamental conservatism to the Astros – an Edmund Burke-style conservatism, enthusiastic but firmly grounded in the best of what has gone before. Consider the number of players (including the team’s leaders) who favor the old-fashioned high-socks/short-pants look – deeply conservative, even when paired with the most daring contemporary baseball-footwear. The leaders usually speak in a sober and reflective manner, a stark contrast to the effervescent, mercurial personality of Gomez.
And then there are the fans. From the beginning of his stay in Houston, Gomez had the look and sound of an outsider. It did not help that the Astros’ fans seemed, from the beginning, to view him as a showboat, a pouter, a guy determined to attract attention. The fans clearly indicated that they were not prepared to indulge that kind of stuff coming from a low-level performer. Like the old joke about a pretentious restaurant: the food was lousy, and such small portions!