Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Conversation: Adrian Gonzalez won't be AMAZING...but still awesome

By Mike Moritz

I am a big Yankee fan, as mentioned in previous posts but as my obsession for advanced baseball statistics has grown, I have learned to not forget the Red Sox and also hate everyone who is involved with the team, as I did in my elementary days. I am not just Yankee follower but rather an all around baseball follower and, yes, even the Red Sox I follow.

And when Adrian Gonzalez switched coasts from the Padres to the Red Sox in the trade that gave up three of Boston's top prospects, I was filled with excitement. I was dying to see how "Gonzo's" bat would react in the small outfield of Fenway Park. I mean, after all he put up gaudy power numbers in Petco Park for years. It is only decent to think that after hitting 24, 30, 36, 40, and 31 homers in order in the spacious San Diego, that he would explode for something like 50 home runs in a Boston uniform. He's 28 and in his prime. Some good signs pointing to 50 home runs...right?


I must say that Gonzalez is a very, very good player and one of my favorite, too. He is definitely one of the best in the game at the plate and can get the job done at first base. He has a sweet, simple and smooth swing in which he keeps his hands and bat in the strike zone for a very long time. That allows him to go the other way and up the middle just as much as he pulls the ball despite his open stance. Hittrackeronline.com shows how well he sprays his home runs all over the field:

Observe how Gonzo's homers all scatter amongst the field and how he has MORE home runs to left field then he does to right field.

So with that said, lets return to the ultimate question: Will Adrian Gonzalez hit 50 home runs?

Again, No.

Yes, he will become a consistent 40 homer threat but ESPN Park Factors says that 50 is a stretch. According to the Park Factors, Fenway Park was ranked 21st in home runs in the MLB and Petco Park was ranked 22nd, so there is essentially no difference between the two parks, as you can see.

Here is some good news though. When you saw the chart above, you can see that, again, he spreads his homers all around the field. And because of that, Gonzalez should get a lot of doubles in Fenway. Fenway Park was rated 2nd on ESPN Park Factors for doubles in 2010. I expect him to get his doubles off the Green Monster and in the triangle in center field while most of his home runs would probably be over the short fence in right field.

But he could possibly get off to a slow start in this upcoming season since he is switching from decent National League West to the all mighty American League East. That statement can be backed up by his slightly above average O-Swing% which was 31.8% last year. Mind you, that mark jumped from a slim 23.1% in 2009.

His walk rate also dropped from 17.5% to a still very good 13.4% and his ISO took a hit as well, dropping from .274 to, again, a still good .213.

For Gonzalez to succeed in the AL East, one of the more important things for him, and every player in the Major Leagues, is to maintain a high walk rate. When his walk rate drops, it will most likely be from the fact that he is swinging at "would be ball four pitches" and thus his O-Swing% rises. It would take a hit on almost every hitting category because he would not be as patient at the dish.

His ISO, on the other hand was due some pure un-luckiness. Check out his line drive, ground ball, fly ball rates and HR/FB ratio:


(Note: Gonzalez's HR/FB ratio had been rising for three straight seasons before 2010.)

Just like BABIP, HR/FB ratio acts as an "un-lucky or lucky indicator". When a player has a bad year, you should look at his line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates and then take a look at his HR/FB ratio (or BABIP) and if his three rates are around his career numbers with a low HR/FB ratio (or BABIP) then you know that he got un-lucky that season. And vise versa.

He smacked 31 homers in 2010 after hitting 40 in 2009. He seems to be a real 40 home run threat even though he is switching parks from Petco to Fenway.

But again, a slow start for him is a realistic thought and he could end up hitting 30 homers again, still a good number. And with the kind of OBP that he holds (.368 for his career), he can still be a very valuable player to the Red Sox even if he does not live up to his expectations.

After a stat line of .298/.393/.511/.378 with 31 homers, at the age of 28, he looks to be in a great situation in his career.

.275/.375/.500/.400, 25-30 home runs and over 40 doubles with a slow start, is what I think, but I could be way off. Gonzalez could go off and hit 45 homers but that is just my thought.

In the case that he does not get off to a slow start, I foresee a great season: .300/.410/.525/.430, 37-42 homers and 40+ doubles.

I know, it's a little absurd to predict a slow start from a player but I am going down a risky path to do it and I could end up looking really stupid. But if he does not get off to a slow start, then he will be extremely valuable.

Gonzalez is 28 and will turn 29 in May as he joins the Red Sox, arguably the new team to beat in the league.

Though I hate to say it.

P.S. Don't forget to vote on the Poll of the Week!

(Statistic in courtesy of: hittrackeronline.comfangraphs.com and espn.com)


  1. when posting things like his GB FB and LD percentages you should post the league averages so everyone knows how his numbers compare with the rest of the league..without the averages someone could think a 29.9 LD% is terrible

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  3. Suge Knight, I must admit, I didn't even think to look at his splits. He has always had a reputation for doing much better away than home. .347 wOBA at home vs .407 wOBA on the road. His ISO was also way better away then on the road I'm just scared since he's switching from the NL West to the AL East