Adrian Gonzalez – The Best Player in Baseball?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, June 28, 2011 10:49 AM | Comments: 11
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

(PHOTO: Fox Sports)

During his years with the San Diego Padres, the big first baseman went relatively unnoticed here on the east coast. He would continually run roughshod over the Phillies – to the tune of a .350 average, 13 home runs, 29 RBI and a 1.143 OPS in just 33 games – but never really got people talking because, who cares; we see him a few times per season and he plays for a lousy team. No more.

Adrian Gonzalez is finally turning heads on a national scale and as someone who enjoys his free and easy left-handed swing, I couldn’t be happier. (I’m a lefty too with a sweet Wiffle-ball swing, myself).

This is me fawning over a player who does not play for the Phillies – once in a while I’m allowed to. If there is a hitter out there who deserves extra attention, it’s this guy.

It has been a coming out party of sorts now that A-Gone plays in a major media market. But if you’ve looked closely, this guy has been a machine in a bad lineup and large ballpark for several years. With little protection around him, Gonzalez has averaged 31 homers and 103 RBI with a .291 average per 162 games.

The focus tonight, and for the entirety of this series, should be on Gonzalez.

His approach at the plate is second to none; his stroke is comparable to Ryan Howard’s 2006 swing – the one where he would calmly flick his wrists and crush the ball to the opposite field. Rarely will you see Gonzalez try to swing as hard as his arms will allow through a ball. He knows he doesn’t have to, and that’s why he’s leading the majors in RBI (71) and average (.361), along with a bunch of other categories, too, including pummeling the Green Monster with doubles. Not to mention, he’s one of the few players making us forget that runs are down and the decade of the pitcher is in full bloom.

Playing the “if” game; “if” Adrian Gonzalez swapped spots with Ryan Howard for the five years he suffered in San Diego, he’d be an MVP already and his numbers would be even more monstrous. The talent level that surrounded Howard for his years here dwarfs that of the Padres, who placed the likes of Jody Gerut, Tad Iguchi, Khalil Greene, and Kevin Kouzmanoff in the lineup either in front of or behind Gonzalez.

And please, don’t take that as a shot at Howard. His tenure with the Phillies has been nothing short of incredible, posting power numbers that few have previously. Still, Adrian Gonzalez, for my money, has always been the better of the two, and more rounded as well. We just didn’t see a lot of him. For the past five years, you could make the argument that he was the second best first baseman in the game, behind Albert Pujols. Full disclosure, I would probably take Adrian Gonzalez over every player in the league right now.

In today’s Boston Herald, our buddy Scott Lauber (formerly of the Wilmington News Journal) highlights the stroke that has made A-Gone A-very rich man. Lauber calls it the “Scarlett Johannson of swings, beautiful and desired by all who see it.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Keep an eye on Gonzalez tonight (and Wednesday and Thursday, as well) if you want to see how the best player in the game works his magic. It’ll be worth it, I promise.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1597 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Pat – You may be right. He’s fantastic. Years past I would have said Ichiro or Albert. I love AGon.

    Pat…did you mention Wiffle Ball? Fast pitch? Strike Zone? Walks?

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      Strike Zone, medium pitch, not usually walks, but will play that way sometimes. Speeds it up.

  • Posts: 0 Man in the Woods

    Any chance we don’t get swept in this series?

  • Posts: 5 byosti

    Avatar of byosti

    Over/under of people actually saying Ryan Howard is better?

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    I dont know about a sweep but winning 2 of 3 is going to be an incredible challenge.

  • Posts: 1183 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    Our pitchers for this series all have ERAs under 3… Go Phils!

    Hopefully A-gone strikes out 12 times.

  • Posts: 4133 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    He’s the best hitter right now for sure. I actually thought he’d hit more home runs playing in Fenway, but it seems he is on pace to equal last year. The difference is in the doubles, he has almost as many as last year right now. He’s almost certainly going to top his personal best in RBI. (barring injury)

    I would not say he was the best player only because he plays first base. Fair or unfair, it’s just always been my viewpoint. But best hitter? Absolutely.

    Our best approach? IMO- give him very few strikes and pitch around him as often as possible. They have plenty firepower but I’d still rather let someone else try to beat us.

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    Gonzalez is having a great season but I still don’t think he’ put it all together for an entire season. He doesn’t have the raw power that howard has. and I never have been a fan of the whole “protection” in the lineup nonsense.

    • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      RyanH. if you have Jayson Werth, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and others in their prime surrounding you or you have Jody Gerut, Chase Headley, Kevin Kouzmanoff, or Jerry Hairston around you, who has the better lineup? The Phillies.

      Ryan Howard, as were seeing now, barely sees anything to hit because the team around him can’t hit. So why throw him a fastball down the middle? Instead, let Howard get himself out or walk him and let the guy behind him fail.

      Same went down for Gonzalez for 5 straight years in SD. He got little to hit because why let him hit anything? Let Jody Gerut do it (which he couldn’t). Even with seeing very little to hit, Gonzalez raked. He has absolutely put it together for an entire season. Look at the numbers:

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    RBI numbers are losing power these days because they rely on others. People ahead of you have to get on base. The Phillies get tons of guys on base, which is why Howard drives in so many runs.

    Well Adrian Gonzalez hit 40 homers and knocked in 99 runs 2 years ago. Why? Because everyone around him stunk. He was forced to walk a ridiculous 119 times that year because he saw nothing to hit.

  • Posts: 0 Shecky

    Red Sox don’t exactly come in firing on all cylinders, having lost 4 of 6 to the Padres & the Pirates, of all people.
    Plus they’ll have no Carl Crawford, Jed Lowrie, Clay Buchholz, etc..

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