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Entries in Boston Red Sox (105)


Adrian Gonzalez: Home Sweet Home?

Nick Carfardo's recent Boston Globe article "It's all in place" focuses on the history of left-handed hitters benefiting (or not benefiting) from Fenway Park's dimensions.  Much of the article centers on how Adrian Gonzalez will fit in and whether he can use the left field wall to his advantage, as did many successful left-handed Red Sox batters before him.

A while back, David Pinto noted in a post how Adrian Gonzalez can hit for power to all fields.  Petco park most definitely suppressed his offense, unsurprisingly, as it is one of the best pitching parks in the league.  At Fenway, Gonzalez should see a decent boost in his power numbers.  In Cafardo's article, he notes that pitcher's will likely try to bust Gonzalez in this year at home in order to limit his use of the wall in left.  Gonzalez's response: "They’ve been doing that to me for years anyway. I’ve always been able to inside-out it the other way.’’

On pitches inside (anything from the inside 3.5" of the plate and in) Gonzalez has actually hit very few balls to left field.  In fact, since 2008, he's hit no HRs to left, one HR to left center, and 19 HRs to right or right center on pitches inside.

Adrian Gonzalez vs. Inside Pitches - 2008-2010
(Click to enlarge)

In the 689 plate appearances represented in the graphic above, Gonzalez produced a .740 OPS on 154 hits, with 29 doubles and 20 HRs.  However, all but 8 of those extra base hits fell right of dead center field.  His 105 singles over that period were fairly spread out across all fields, however the majority fell in what would be well short of the wall in left, as did his 119 fly ball outs.

Of course, Gonzalez will be successful regardless of whether or not he's banging balls off the wall in left.  Even if pitcher's come in on him, a .740 OPS over the past 3 years is nothing to scoff at. Considering that Gonzalez's expected OBP on pitches inside since 2008 is .388, he's likely to be successful even if pitchers try to jam him.


Dustin Pedroia and His Wall

Reader Jeff asked us to take a look at Dustin Pedroia.  Here's a quick look at some of his Home/Road splits over the last three seasons.

Dustin Pedroia

You can see that Pedroia's power zones are slightly diminished on the road.  As a righty at Fenway, he's made good use of the left field wall.  It's no secret that the green monster often turns what would normally be a fly ball out in most other parks, into a base hit.  While he's hit fewer HRs at home than on the road in the last three seasons, he's produced far more doubles at Fenway (108 to 61 in his career). 

Fly balls are converted into outs more often than any other type of hit ball (other than pop ups, of course).  Since 2008, Pedroia has hit 43 fly ball doubles at home compared to 13 on the road; the majority of those Fenway doubles have come on balls hit off the wall in left.  He also has a 2.8% lower line drive rate at home than on the road (16.9% to 19.7%).  This is a little less than two sigma, so it's not really a sign of any substantive change.  Still, I wouldn't be surprised if Pedroia has made an effort to put the ball in the air to left more at home knowing that he has a better chance of getting a hit, thus resulting in fewer line drives.


A Better Home Park

It appears the San Diego Padres are about to trade Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox.  Gonzalez posts great offensive numbers despite playing in a home park at hurts his home run power.  The difference is obvious in the following charts showing his home runs over the last three seasons:

Adrian Gonzalez, home runs at home, 2008-2010.In addition to the distance of his home runs, note the two distinct power zone in the strike zone.

Adrian Gonzalez, home runs away, 2008-2010.Not only do his home runs fall closer away from PETCO, but his power doesn't disappear in the middle of the strike zone.

What really should be getting Red Sox fans excited, however, is Gonzalez's power the other way.  All those dots in leftfield means he's going to be pounding the Green Monster and depositing balls in the seats above it.  Not all of those balls in play in that direction will be home runs, but the ones falling short are much less likely to be outs.

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