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It’s Time for Everyone to Take Note of Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez, the Hottest Hitter in Baseball

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The full given birth name of the hottest hitter in baseball is Carlos Argelis Gomez Pena. No, we're not talking about the Houston Astros' first baseman -- we're talking about the Milwaukee Brewers' center fielder, a man affectionately known as Go-Go.

Unless you happen to live under a rock, you may know him better by the name of Carlos Gomez.

On Nov. 6, 2009, Gomez became a member of the Brewers after being swapped for fan-favorite JJ Hardy. In his first two seasons with Milwaukee, Gomez was part of a platoon in center field, and his production suffered as a result. He hit .238 with 13 HRs and 48 RBIs between '10 and '11, and fans grew restless as Hardy hit .269 with 36 HRs and 118 RBIs with the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles during the same stretch.

But in 2012, another fan-favorite opened the door in center field. Nyjer Morgan and Gomez combined to be the heroes in Game 5 of the 2o11 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks when Plush drove in Go-Go in the bottom of the tenth inning. However, Morgan scuffled out of the gate in '12, and Gomez took advantage.

Assuming an everyday role, Gomez admittedly became more comfortable and felt less pressure to succeed on a daily basis. The result was a boost in average (.260) and production (19 HRs, 51 RBIs), and a nice little raise in the offseason.

Before the start of the 2013 season, Gomez was rewarded for his breakout season with a 3-year, $24 million extension. He was originally set to become a free agent at the end of the season, so general manager Doug Melvin took action and locked Gomez up through the 2016 season.

Again, fans were skeptical. Did Gomez, who is still only 27 years of age despite being in the league since '07, really deserve this kind of money? Was this money better off being used elsewhere, like with Corey Hart, a proven player that was also in the last year of his contract?

Well, let's just say the critics have been silenced.

Through 32 games -- 31 of which Gomez has played -- Go-Go, who has never hit better than .260 in a season, leads all Major Leaguers in hitting, setting the pace with a .386 average. Gomez vowed to live up to his new deal, and most would agree that he is doing so, and then some.

After getting off to a slow start -- he was hitting .162 with donuts for home runs and RBIs through nine games -- manager Ron Roenicke sat him down. It was a day for Gomez to calm himself and channel what he had been working on during spring training -- patience at the plate.

Now, it's Gomez who has become the fan-favorite.

Since sitting out on April 13 against the St. Louis Cardinals, Gomez is hitting .494 (26-for-53) with 6 HRs and 12 RBIs, and he is in the midst of a 14-game hitting streak.

This is not a joke. This is a real thing that Carlos Gomez is doing, and it's really a sight to behold. To go out on a limb, there's likely no player in baseball who has had a better stretch of play during the young 2013 season than Gomez.

But Go-Go brings so much more to the table than what he does at the plate.

When Melvin made the now brilliant decision to extend Gomez's contract, hitting wasn't even half of the equation. It's what Gomez does with his feet, which in turn leads to his world-class defense and antics on the base paths.

Gomez plays a shallow center field because he is comfortable going back on the baseball, and this cuts off a larger portion of the outfield as a result. While he will make a mistake here and there when judging a fly ball, he more than makes up for it with the amount of runs he saves thanks to his incredible range and reckless abandon.

It's that speed that also allows Gomez to wreak havoc on the bases and disrupt the opposing pitcher. With Gomez red-hot at the plate and getting on-base 43.1 percent of the time, it gives him more opportunities to impact the game with his wheels. Gomez has stolen seven bases this season and a career stolen base rate of 80 percent.

In an intriguing piece by ESPN.com's Buster Olney, Gomez partly attributes his incredible turnaround to two drills. In one, he is forced to pull the baseball, and in the other, he just stands there, watching pitch after pitch go by. It's why Gomez's patience at the plate has surfaced -- he's become better at tracking the baseball.

Over the past two years or so, Gomez has become the kind of hitter he wants to be, not the kind of hitter everyone else wants him to be. He's not just a slap hitter -- he can hit for power, lay down the occasional bunt and use every field.

The Brewers have so many exciting pieces - from young upstart shortstop Jean Segura, to former MVP Ryan Braun, and now Gomez. Not only does this trio make Milwaukee a fun team to watch night-in and night-out, but a team that could continue to contend year after year. That is, if their pitching ever comes around, which is a different story for a different time.

In the coming years, there may be no player more crucial to Milwaukee's success -- or more exciting to watch -- than Carlos Gomez.

Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.

You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .

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