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2012 Projections: Adrian Gonzalez Will Continue to Produce

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When the Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez last winter it was to have a powerful, left handed bat who could drive the ball the other way and play wall ball with the Green Monster.  After a statistically pleasing first season in Boston, Gonzalez, like his teammates that remain from last year have more to prove.

As mentioned, Gonzo had some good numbers.  .338/.410/.548/.957 to go with 27 home runs and 117 RBI.  He had a WAR rating of 6.1 and finished seventh in the AL MVP voting.  Again, pretty good numbers for a smooth swinging lefty and according to his projected numbers for the upcoming season, he will again continue to be an offensive catalyst for the Red Sox.

His projected numbers, courtesy of fangraphs.com look like this – .301/.391/.517/.907 with 29 homers and 118 RBI.  Decent, but let’s be honest, that batting average is way too damn low, don’t you think?  As a result, the rest of his line is lower.  Let’s dissect this a little bit.

Gonzalez is a career .293 hitter.  But it’s because he played in San Diego for five seasons, one of the most pitcher friendly parks in all of baseball.  He hit over .300 only once and that was and that was back in 2006, his first season with the Padres.  His OBP has only been over .400 twice in his career, last season in Boston and in 2009 with San Diego when he walked a career high 119 times.

As I said before, this guy was made to hit at Fenway Park.  Gonzalez threatened for the AL batting title for most of the year last season before cooling off in September.  Right from game #1 Gonzo was always collecting base hits and doubles off the wall.  I hardly think it was a fluke to hit .338 and to think he’ll regress closer to his career average this year is absurd as it is crazy.  A batting average over .330 is quite realistic and more than achievable during his second season in Boston.

I won’t rip on the RotoChamp too much because they do have him producing 118 RBI, one shy of his career mark set in 2008. The number of home runs projected at 29 may not please many Sox fans, but consider that Gonzo averaged just over 30 in his five years with the Chicken Friars and suddenly this number isn’t so bad.  He’s only hit 40 once and that was in 2009. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him hit 32-35 dingers next year, but pushing 40 is a stretch for a guy that hits for average and produces a boat load of runs.

The other nice thing about Gonzalez is his glove.  He’s a three-time gold glove winner and last season we saw flashes of brilliance while manning first base.  Expect nothing less this season from the defensive side.

Additions of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder to the American League will steal a lot of the spotlight from Gonzalez this year.  In fact, the Tigers, Angels and Rangers will take a lot of the attention off the Red Sox all together, which will suit Gonzalez just fine. His time spent in San Diego wasn’t exactly a baseball hot bed and the lack of attention will allow Gonzo to once again do his thing this season.  Hit for average, drive in runs, smack 30 or more homers, provide rock solid defense and help the Red Sox win ball games.  Sounds pretty simple yes, because it is for a guy that makes swinging the bat look effortless.

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