There were high expectations for Carlos Gonzalez entering the 2010 season, and thus far he has lived up to them. Just look at his numbers through Tuesday if you need proof:

236 At Bats
.301 Batting Average (71 Hits)
10 Home Runs
42 RBI
41 Runs
8 Stolen Bases
.328 On Base Percentage
.496 Slugging Percentage
.349 Batting Average on Balls in Play

He’s showing realistic power (16.1 percent HR/FB), and while he’s had some luck, he certainly has the speed to maintain it. Yeah, there are things that could use improvement (i.e. his walk rate is at 3.6 percent), but overall there is very little that you can complain about.

The question is: where is his ceiling? Could he possibly be the next Matt Kemp?

Gonzalez had spent parts of 2008 and 2009 in the Major Leagues, much like Kemp spent parts of 2006 and 2007 with the Dodgers. Let’s look at what Kemp did in his first full season (2008):

.290, 18 HR, 76 RBI, 93 R, 35 SB

Clearly, Gonzalez is on pace to outperform these marks, especially in the HR and RBI.  Since then, Kemp has continued to show the speed while adding more power and RBI potential. Let’s look at the underlying statistics that have helped him get there in 2010:

Fly Ball Rate: 34.7 percent
Line Drive Rate: 21.1 percent
HR/FB: 16.7 percent
Strikeout Rate: 27.6 percent
BABIP: .324

There may be some slight anomalies in Kemp’s numbers, as his career BABIP is .357 and strikeout rate is 25.2 percent. Still, it gives you a good idea of how Gonzalez compares:

Fly Ball Rate: 33.7 percent
Line Drive Rate: 19.0 percent
HR/FB: 16.1 percent
Strikeout Rate: 22.9 percent
BABIP: .349

Kemp does walk more then Gonzalez has shown this season (8.4 percent), but Gonzalez has shown that type of ability in the past (8.8 percent over 278 AB in 2009). Outside of that, the numbers are very similar.

So, at 24 years old, to have the metrics to compare to Kemp and all ready be delivering on the promise you have to ask yourself just how much better will Gonzalez get? It’s a tough question to answer because he easily could stagnate a bit, maybe even regress a little. Still, by looking at the numbers compared to one of the players regarded as one of the top two or three outfielders, it’s hard not to get excited.

If you own him in a keeper league, it should be hard to pry him away from you. There is a realistic chance that within the next two years we are talking about a potentially top five outfielder.

What do you think? Just how good can Gonzalez be? Will he reach Kemp’s status, if not surpass it?



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