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Entries in Adrian Gonzalez (18)


A-Gon Punchless vs. Outside Pitches

The Boston Red Sox traded a trio of well-regard prospects prior to the 2011 season to get Adrian Gonzalez's bat from the Padres and then signed the franchise first baseman to a seven-year, $154 contract extension. Gonzalez rewarded his new club with 27 homers, a .548 slugging percentage and a 155 OPS+ as the Sox paced the majors in runs scored. Boston still has a quality offense in 2012 despite an avalanche of injuries (third in runs scored). But, as the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber says, Gonzalez's power production is gonzo:

Adrian Gonzalez knows what you’re thinking.

Through 44 games and nearly 200 plate appearances, he has hit three home runs — one fewer than outfielder Daniel Nava, who was called up by the Red Sox [team stats] only three weeks ago. He’s also slugging .406, a lower percentage than even spray-hitting Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (.422) or Chicago White Sox leadoff man Alejandro De Aza (.417).

Yo Adrian, where has your power gone?

Gonzalez's OPS+ is just 101 this year, a far cry from his career 138 mark. Where has Adrian's power gone? The answer lies on the outside corner of the plate.

During his first year in Boston, Gonzalez was one of the best hitters in the game in terms of thumping pitches thrown away. Look at his slugging percentage on outside pitches, and then the average for lefty batters:

Gonzalez's slugging percentage vs. pitches thrown away, 2011


Average slugging percentage for lefty hitters vs. pitches thrown away

Gonzalez slugged .518 against pitches thrown away in 2011, the fourth-highest clip among lefty batters and 130 points above the big league average. With 12 homers on pitches thrown away, Gonzalez trailed just Curtis Granderson, Ryan Howard, Carlos Santana, Carlos Pena and Jay Bruce among those swinging from the left side.  

In 2012, though? Gonzalez's heat map is ice cold on away pitches:

Gonzalez's slugging percentage vs. pitches thrown away, 2012

Adrian hasn't hit a single homer on a pitch thrown away, and his .238 slugging percentage is eighth-worst among qualified lefty batters. Gonzalez is renowned for lacing outside pitches to the opposite field, and he dented or cleared the Green Monster often on pitches thrown away in 2011...

Gonzalez's spray chart vs. outside pitches, 2011

So far in 2012, however, he's hitting singles and weak fly outs:

Gonzalez's spray chart vs. outside pitches, 2012

With Boston's outfield decimated (Gonzalez has played right field recently in interleague games), the Sox need their first baseman to find his power stroke. To do that, he'll have to get reacquainted with the Monster.


David Ortiz Reinvents his Swing

The scouting report on David Ortiz is that he is going to pull the ball, and often times pull it hard. This is the reason so many teams have instituted the over shift when facing the left-handed slugger. For years it worked, but in the winter going into the 2011 season, the Red Sox acquire the left hander with one of the smoothest opposite field strokes in the game, Adrian Gonzalez. Since that acquisition, Ortiz and AGonz have made fast friends, sharing hitting advice, and it is definitely showing. 

From 2008-2010, Ortiz had only 104 hits to the opposite field with only 12 home runs and a .578 slugging percentage. Below is the spread for Ortiz opposite field production over those years (production is indicated in slugging percentage).

Ortiz to the opposite field '08-'10In contrast, Gonzalez crushed pitchers to the opposite side with 160 hits, 48 home runs, and an .809 slugging percentage. Gonzalez could take almost any pitch on the outside half and give it a ride.

Gonzalez to the opposite field '08-'10Since Gonzalez arrived, Ortiz has seen a rebirth to his opposite field hitting ability, which should cause some teams to be wary of the Red Sox slugger. After a full season as teammates, Ortiz is off to the hottest April he has had in years. He is hitting a robust .444 average and .714 slugging percentage while spreading the ball around the whole field. 

Spread of Ortiz's hits so far in 2012

Also, over the course of 2008-2010, Ortiz hit an abysmal .218 versus left handed pitching, mustering up a less than impressive .383 slugging percentage. His ability to put the ball in play was horrible, leading to his removal from games facing lefties and contributing to some of Ortiz's slowest starts in his career.

Ortiz's Average versus left-handers from 2008-10Post-2011, Ortiz has been on a torrid pace, hitting lefites at a .340/.567 clip. Being able to go with the breaking ball and outside pitches to the opposite field has corrected Ortiz's swing and made him a dangerous middle of the order hitter for the Red Sox again.
Ortiz's Average versus lefties since the start of the 2011 season


The 2011 200-hitsters

I've been curious about the players who have picked up at least 200 hits this season, who I refer to as "200-hitsters."

Here's a look at them through action on Sept. 26.

Rk Player H Tm G HR RBI BA
1 Adrian Gonzalez 211 BOS 157 27 117 .338
2 Jacoby Ellsbury 210 BOS 156 31 103 .323
3 Michael Young 210 TEX 157 11 105 .338
4 Starlin Castro 204 CHC 156 10 65 .306
5 Melky Cabrera 201 KCR 155 18 87 .305
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/27/2011.

Interesting group, don't you think?

Adrian Gonzalez and Starlin Castro lead their leagues in hits. Matt Kemp of the Dodgers has 192 hits for second place in the NL.

Let's take a look at the heat maps for each of these players and see what we see.

Adrian Gonzalez

114 of Gonzo's hits have been off of fastballsGonzo strength has been on the outside of the plate where he has produced 74 hits. However, as his shoulder has weakened so has his ability to drive balls pitched to him on the outside. Since August 1, he has only 17 hits on outside pitches and only nine off of fastballs.

Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury has 109 hits off fastballsYou can see that Jacoby has loved the inside quadrant all season long, but since August 1st, he has expanded his zone.

Since August1, Ellsbury has 71 hits including 14 homers

Michael Young

106 of Michael's hits have come on fastballsMichael Young has been killer this season on every thing middle in. If the Rangers make the World Series, I will be fascinated watching Cliff Lee and Doc Halladay paint that low and outside corner where Young has only eight hits this season.

Starlin Castro

Castro has 85 hits on fastballs and 40 on slidersCastro has been remarkably consistent hitting .307 before the All-Star break and .305 since. it's not as obvious, but middle down has produced 161 of his hits

Melky Cabrera

The switch-hitting Melky has 63 hits from the right side of the plate, 34 off of fastballsCabrera has 138 hits as a lefty with 65 coming off fastballsThe Melk Man hit .293 before the All Star break and has hit .322 with 89 hits since. Cabrera never had more than 149 hits in a season prior to 2011.

The five 200-hitsters are the most since we had eight in 2006 and 2007.