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Entries in Adrian Gonzalez (18)

Tuesday
May072013

NL Best & Worst Hitters Home & Away

I know it is not a revelation, but there is no National League hitting equivalent of Miguel Cabrera.

NL Home and Away stars

The closest we can find in terms of home and away hitting in the NL, is the Brewers Carlos Gomez who is hitting .362 in Milwaukee and .378 away from home.

Next among the elite NL home and away batters are the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez who is hitting .345 in LA and .345 on the road and Yadier Molina hitting .333 in St. Louis and .324 on the road.

Home bodies

The top three hitters at home in the NL are: 

Road Warriors

We expect, and understand, hitting success in Colorado which is what makes Wilin Rosario's .417 road batting average, the best in the NL, fascinating. But what makes it truly amazing is that he is only hitting .184 at Coors.

The guys who prefer the road to hit are: 

Equal opportunity batter

Jean Segura is hitting .333 at home/.333 on the road. Segura is the only NL batter within four points on his home and away averages.

Some numbers of note 

  • Adam LaRoche is hitting .091 in Washington, the worst home batting average in the NL.
  • Rickie Weeks is hitting .095 away from Milwaukee, the worst road batting average in the NL.
  • B.J. Upton is hitting .133 in Atlanta and .159 away.
  • Ike Davis is hitting .176 in New York and .167 away.
  • Matt Kemp is hitting .189 in LA and .328 away.
  • Lucas Duda is hitting .200 in New York and .308 away.
  • Andrew McCutchen is hitting .316 in Pittsburgh and .182 away.
  • Jimmy Rollins is hitting .275 in Philly and .185 away.
  • Alfonso Soriano is hitting .333 in Chicago and .200 away.
  • Jedd Gyorko is hitting .333 in San Diego and .203 away.
  • Buster Posey is hitting .360 in San Francisco and .204 away.
  • Starlin Castro is hitting .329 in Chicago and .224 away.
  • David DeJesus is hitting .347 in Chicago and .224 away.
  • Carl Crawford is hitting .377 in LA and .241 away.
  • Bryce Harper is hitting .370 in Washington and .255 away.
  • Pete Kozma is hitting .216 in St. Louis and .297 away. 
Friday
Mar082013

Top 16 Fantasy Baseball First Basemen

Below are my pre-season top 16 first baseman rankings:

  1. Joey Votto, CIN
  2. Prince Fielder, MIL
  3. Albert Pujols, LAA
  4. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR
  5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD
  6. Allen Craig, STL
  7. Billy Butler, KC
  8. Eric Hosmer, KC
  9. Ike Davis, NYM
  10. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI
  11. Freddie Freeman, ATL
  12. Adam LaRoche, WSH
  13. Nick Swisher, CLE
  14. Mark Trumbo, LAA
  15. Anthony Rizzo, CHC
  16. Paul Konerko, CHW

Honorable mention: Garret Jones, Chris Davis, David Ortiz, Lance Berkman

Additional Information:

  1. There’s been a lot of concern from fantasy owners about Joey Votto's lack of power after missing nearly two months of the 2012 season with two knee surgeries. However, even though he missed two months of the season he still had a career high in doubles, which tells me he has more power than the 14 home runs he ended the year with. Also, he’s almost a shoe-in for a .310+ batting average, which allows more freedom with roster construction.
  2. I have one number for you: 160; that’s the average number of games Prince Fielder has averaged over his entire career. His power may no longer be elite; you may be surprised that he only hit 30 home runs last year; he’s never hurt and is one of the safest players in fantasy. Also, Victor Martinez replaces the free swinging Delmon Young in the fifth spot in the batting order, so Fielder could score 100+ runs.
  3. The slow start of Albert Pujols' 2012 season was well documented, but his return to being Albert Pujols in big capital letters went under the radar. It’s possible the cause of his slow start was due to pressing to impress his new team, but that doesn’t erase the fact his offensive numbers have been in decline the past three seasons. He had all-time lows in walk percentage, home runs, slugging and OPS in 2012 as well as striking more than ever did. Also, his AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS have dropped year over year for the past four seasons.
  4. Two years removed from wrist surgery and finally healthy, Edwin Encarnacion had a career year posting 42 home runs and 110 RBIs. Instead of hitting behind Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus, he’ll be hitting behind of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera in 2013. He had a career high in his HR/FB rate (24.5%) so it’s more likely he regresses to 32-35 home runs. Fantasy owners should expect 6 stolen bases; anything more is gravy.
  5. In an extremely small sample size (36 games) Adrian Gonzalez hit.297/.344/.441 for the Dodgers showing the MVP skill set was still there. It’s possible the discomfort in his surgically-repaired shoulder was the culprit for the lack of power last year; he posted a career low HR/FB rate of 12.2%. If he slips to the end of the fourth round of drafts I will gladly take the upside.
  6. The biggest question about Allen Craig has never been about his skill set, but about his ability to play a full season. In the last two seasons he’s only totaled 773 plate appearances. With those appearances he’s been extremely productive; his .532 SLG the past two years ranks him 14th among hitters with 700+ plate appearances. Craig enters the year as the full time first baseman, which should give him a better opportunity to stay healthy. 
  7. Like Prince Fielder, Billy Butler has been very healthy his entire career, averaging 159 games played the past four years. It should be noted that he only played 20 games at first last season, as he is primarily a DH. His HR/FB rate of 20.6% is probably unsustainable, but during the second half of the 2011 season Butler began swinging at more pitches and becoming more aggressive at the plate. The trend continued in 2012 as he set career highs in home runs and RBI. He’s entering his prime and could be in line for breakout in 2013. 
  8. Prior to his rookie debut in 2010, every scout and publication hailed Eric Hosmer as the next super star. After a solid rookie year, the hype around him before 2012 drafts were immense, so large that he was the 53rd player taken off the board in ESPN leagues. In 2013, he should reach his level. Draft him as a first baseman whose floor is a .280 batting average, 20 home runs, 80+/80+ (RBI/runs) with double digit steals.
  9. Ike Davis' low batting average was the result of an extremely low .246 BABIP and his inability to hit left handed pitching. For his career, his slash line against lefties is .217/.281/.361. What’s more discouraging is his walk rate has decreased for the third year in a row. However, what’s encouraging is his ground ball rate has decreased during the past three years as well. Since he strikes out 20% of the time, the batting average will be BABIP dependent; I believe he turns into a great fantasy sleeper; hitting .255, 29-35 home runs with 90+/90+ (RBI/runs).
  10. Most of Paul Goldschmidt's fantasy value came from (surprisingly) his 18 SBs. He’s a well below average runner (30-35 on the 20-80 scouting scale) and I can’t see him coming close to the 18 again. If he doesn’t steal 18 bases, he’s more a top 20 than a top 10 first baseman. Power is necessary when drafting a first baseman; I’ll be surprised if he hits more than 25 home runs, which puts him at a disadvantage amongst his colleagues. Goldschmidt’s value is team dependent; he’s a great fit for teams already with a lot of power, but he’s a poor fit if he’s on a team devoid of power.
  11. In 2012, despite a lower batting average, Freddie Freeman’s slugging and walk percentages increased, which tells me he’s making the necessary adjustments to become a better hitter. His plate coverage and bat speed points to a .300 batting average. Fantasy owners expecting 28+ home runs will be disappointed, but 25 is certainly reasonable.
  12. Prior to the 2011 season Adam LaRoche was the fantasy version of an old Toyota; not sexy, consistent and predictable. However, a shoulder injury put him out for 75% of the season. In 2012, he rewarded fantasy owners with career highs in home runs. His 21.8% HR/FB rate should come back down to his career average of 18%, but that will only take away couple of home runs. He’s expected to bat cleanup so another year of 25 home runs, 95+ RBI with a .265+ batting average is almost as good as money in the bank.
  13. Nick Swisher is a very consistent and underrated hitter who has avoided major injuries. A slight decline in power is expected as he’s leaving one of the best ballparks for power to an average ballpark in Cleveland. In the past three seasons 80% of his power came while batting left-handed. Cleveland’s ballpark is seventh best ballpark for left-handed hitters, compared to Yankee Stadium ranking second. He’s not a sexy player, but he can definitely help your fantasy team.
  14. After the Angels traded Kendrys Morales for Jason Vargas, Mark Trumbo became the full time DH and will bat fifth behind Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Trumbo’s season was a tale of two halves. The first half his slash line was .302/.358/.608 and his second half slash line was .227/.271/.359. He has the raw power, but a poor approach (striking out 26% of the time) will limit the potential for batting average. On the bright side his walk percentage increased two percentage points, showing he’s making some adjustments to his approach. He would be the perfect complement to a Eric Hosmer or a Paul Goldschmidt.
  15. During his first partial season in the majors (with the San Diego Padres) Anthony Rizzo clearly looked overmatched and it showed, striking out 30% of the time. He was acquired by the Cubs  in January 2012 and started the season in Triple-A. He made a number of adjustments, specifically reducing the length in his swing, reducing his strike out rate 44% and increased contact his contact rate 17.5%. His fantasy potential is immense, but he has a long way to go before reaching that potential.
  16. For the first time in three seasons Paul Konerko posted an OPS less than .900. His low ranking is not a function of declining skill set, but more of a concern of the player who bats in front of him in the order: Adam Dunn. Dunn is a three-outcome player; he either walks, strikes out or hits a home run. A player like Dunn limits Konerko’s ability to drive in runs. Among all players with at least 300 at-bats, Konerko ranked 60th in plate appearances with runners on base, one spot ahead of Jeff Francouer. I’ve had Konerko every year for the past three seasons, but this year he won’t be on any of my teams because the upside is no longer there.

Overall Draft Strategy

For the first time in a long time the gap between the top three and the 10th first baseman is not that wide. With home runs becoming even more of a premium, first base is a position where fantasy owners must get that power. Other than Fielder, every player in the top 5 has huge question marks; that is why I recommend waiting until the middle rounds to get your first baseman.

Monday
Jul162012

Inside Heat Hurting Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez established himself as one of the game's great hitters by using his smooth, compact stroke to lash outer-half pitches to the opposite field. In fact, no active player this side of Jim Thome has a higher slugging percentage on outer-half offerings dating back to 2008 (.545). Against outer-half fastballs, Gonzalez has a .682 slugging percentage.  

Perhaps tired of being victimized by Gonzalez's outer-half prowess, pitchers have busted him inside much more this year. That's especially the case with fastballs. Gonzalez hasn't been able to adjust to all the inside heat so far, and his power numbers are suffering.

Check out pitchers' fastball location versus Gonzalez in 2011, and then this season:

Pitchers' fastball location vs. Gonzalez, 2011Pitchers' fastball location vs. Gonzalez, 2012

Opponents threw inside fastballs to Gonzalez 33 percent of the time in 2011, but that has jumped up to 43 percent in 2012. That's the second-highest percentage of inside fastballs seen by a lefty batter this season, behind only Atlanta's Jason Heyward. And loud contact for Gonzalez against inside heat has been about as common as quiet nights in the Boston media. Here's his slugging percentage vs. inside fastballs last season, and in 2012:

2011

 

2012

 

Gonzalez slugged .531 against inside fastballs in 2011, about 90 points above the MLB average. That has been cut in half in 2012. He's got one of the 20 lowest slugging percentages against inside heat this year:

Lowest slugging percentage vs. inside fastballs, 2012

BatterSlugging Pct.
Justin Morneau .091
Justin Smoak .125
Mike Moustakas .143
Kendrys Morales .154
Casey Kotchman .160
Carlos Santana .188
Kyle Seager .190
David DeJesus .192
Cameron Maybin .200
Cliff Pennington .214
Jimmy Rollins .222
Gordon Beckham .229
Brian McCann .233
Jason Kipnis .233
Miguel Montero .235
Jose Tabata .240
Dayan Viciedo .244
Jamey Carroll .250
Adrian Gonzalez .266
Justin Upton .268

 

Gonzalez's woes against inside fastballs go a long way toward explaining his 2012 power outage (he's slugging just .417 this season, compared to .548 during his first year with the Red Sox). Pitchers have adjusted their game plan against him, preferring to tie him up inside instead of watch him lace outside pitches off the Green Monster. Now, it's up to Gonzalez to counter-punch.