Adrian Gonzalez Heating Up For Red Sox
July 19, 2012 Leave a comment
On June 22nd, 28 days ago, Adrian Gonzalez was hitting .256. He had only 6 home runs through the first 3 months of the season. Everyone was wondering what was wrong with Adrian Gonzalez and for good reason. When the Red Sox acquired him before last season he had the reputation of being one of the best pure hitters in the game. He didn’t disappoint in his first year in Boston, putting up a .338/.410/.957 line with 27 home runs and 117 RBI. Despite all of the idiotic criticism pointed at him for mentioning God in a post-game 162 interview Gonzalez did more than his share in September while the rest of the team collapsed around him with a .318/.455/.977 line in September with 4 home runs and 14 RBI.
So it was a mystery that by June 23rd of this year Gonzalez had put up a .256/.313./.705 line with only 6 home runs and 43 RBI. The mystery has apparently been solved by Gonzalez. Since June 22nd A-Gon has added a full 40 points to his average and now stands at .296. From the way he is swinging the bat it looks like he will rush past the .300 mark any day now and not look back. Gonzalez has added two opposite field home runs on the current home stand showing that his ability to hit for power to all parts of the field has not disappeared.
So why the big turn around for A-Gon? Some people think that he messed up his swing while he was switching from first base to right field earlier in the season. I suppose his .404 batting average since moving back to first base full-time might support that. Others think that he put too much pressure on himself to pick up the slack for other players that were injured or under-performing. I tend to always go with the simplest solution and in this case it’s this – Adrian Gonzalez is a great hitter and even great hitters go through tremendous slumps. Eventually all great hitters, like A-Gon, break out of these slumps and sometimes in a big way. David Ortiz did it 2 years in a row in 2009 and 2010 when he got off to horrible starts in each of those two seasons. Dustin Pedroia was hovering around the .260 mark for the 1st 3 months of last season before putting it together and finishing the year with a .307 average.
In my opinion Gonzalez was trying to pick up the slack earlier in the year and was looking to hit home runs. Even if a player has opposite field power they will tend to try and pull the ball when they are trying to hit home runs. They will also chase pitches out of the zone. Gonzalez was doing both. Right around the time his 18 game hitting streak started in mid-June he changed his approach and went back to basics. That resulted in him getting his swing back. First came the hits now comes the home runs. All A-Gon has to do is stay the course with his approach for the rest of the year and he should be his usual productive self.
The Red Sox need Gonzalez’ bat to be hot now more than ever with David Ortiz on the DL. Gonzalez has gotten a hit in 22 of the last 23 games that he’s played and the one that he didn’t get a hit in he only had one plate appearance before leaving the game due to illness. Simply put Gonzalez is red-hot right now. He’s hitting .438 so far in July with a 1.063 OPS. He already has 12 RBI for the month. Gonzalez seems poised to put this team on his back offensively, if he hasn’t already, which is exactly what the Sox needed at this point in time. Gonzalez’ return to form might not be entirely what the Red Sox need to catapult them into October (I’m looking at you Beckett, Buchholz, and Lester) but he certainly won’t hurt their chances if he hits like the old A-Gon for the rest of the year.