Should Chris Dickerson be given a shot at starting?

Over at the Brewers’ official site today, Adam McCalvy published a story about Carlos Gomez. I’ll let you read it, but basically, Gomez talks about how he has vowed to improve, and more familiar lines like “If I get on base at .350, I can steal 50 bases, easy. I can score 100 runs.” There are also some nice things about Gomez’ work ethic and notes about how he hired pitchers to throw batting practice to him this winter.

That’s all very nice, but Gomez has said things like this in the past. I don’t doubt his work ethic, but he has never proved that he will change his approach at the plate and take more walks. In that article, Ron Roenicke even admits that the Brewers aren’t asking for anything from Gomez other than defense, saying “I don’t want to put too much on him offensively, because that’s not really why he’s there.”

A couple days earlier, there was another article at the official site about Chris Dickerson and the superb defense he has been playing this spring, especially towards the end of Sunday’s game, when he made three good defensive plays in a row, including a catch while smashing into the wall and an outfield assist.

I got to thinking – if Dickerson is a good outfielder, and Gomez is a good outfielder, why isn’t Dickerson being given a legitimate look as the starting centerfielder?

Over Dickerson’s career, he has posted 15.7 UZR/150, a fantastic number, and actually a touch better than Carlos Gomez’ 14.5. There is no doubt that Gomez is a good centerfielder, and these fielding statistics aren’t always perfect. Gomez also has a larger sample size, but I think we can probably agree that if Dickerson is a step down from Gomez, it isn’t by much.

Now, we get to the offensive side of things. Gomez, 25, has a career line of .246/.293/.349, and over four MLB seasons has averaged 6 home runs, 45 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases. He has also averaged 114 strikeouts per 162 games over 476 at bats, or a career 23.9 strikeout percentage. He averages just 26 walks per season, or 5.1 percent.

I could get into other things, like the fact that Gomez’ best season was 2008, and he hasn’t shown much improvement over the last two years, but I’ve been over this all before. So I’ll look at Chris Dickerson.

Dickerson, who will turn 29 in early April, has a career line of .267/.356/.403 while averaging 8 homers, 35 RBIs and 20 stolen bases per season. Dickerson’s strikeout rate is actually higher than Gomez’, at 29.7 percent, but also walks more than twice as much at 11.8 percent.

It’s clear that Dickerson strikes out a lot, far too much for a player that won’t hit a lot of home runs. However, Dickerson’s BB/K ratio is higher (.46) than Gomez’ (.23). Given the fact that Dickerson appears to be as good of a defensive outfielder as Gomez, I feel like Dickerson should have been given a shot at the beginning of spring to win the job. Yes, Dickerson had a bad year last year, but he was used sparingly and was battling injuries, and it’s not like Gomez blew anyone away last year.

Perhaps this spring renders my argument moot – Gomez, before today’s game, was batting .390/.405/.732 with 2 home runs, 7 RBIs and 3 stolen bases while Dickerson was batting .303/.361/.424 with no home runs, 5 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Gomez has one walk, while Dickerson has two, and Gomez has struck out just 4 times in 41 at bats while Dickerson has 6 strikeouts in 33 at bats. Judging by these numbers, it looks like Gomez would have won the job anyway.

I might be a little harsh on Carlos Gomez, but only because he has never produced very well in any of his four major league seasons. I think that the Brewers have a potentially good backup option, and management should give him a shot. Gomez is a guy who does have potential, but now in his fifth season, he needs that potential to start turning into results, or teams will stop giving him chances.

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