Saturday, December 4, 2010
Crunching the numbers on Gonzalez
By ESPN Stats and Information
Some interesting facts and figures on Adrian Gonzalez:
* If Adrian Gonzalez is indeed moving out of Petco Park, it can only do wonderful things for his production, as the stadium has dragged down his number superficially since he got there.
* Since 2007, Gonzalez has 90 road homers, most among all players. Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols both have 88, while Adam Dunn has 77 and Prince Fielder has 76.
However, he has just 47 dingers at home since 2007, which is tied for 43rd in the majors. Among players that are ahead of him -- Jack Cust, Adam LaRoche, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Hunter Pence, David Wright.
* Since 2007, 66 percent of his homers have been on the road (90 of 137). That percentage is the highest among players who have hit at least 75 homers over the last 4 seasons. Next is Kevin Kouzmanoff (who played for Oakland and San Diego) with 60 percent of his 75 homers on the road.
* Any questions as to whether Adrian Gonzalez is one of the premier 1B in the league are erased when one looks at his OPS+, which compares to league average (100). Gonzalez ranks ahead of such "bigger" names as Prince Fielder and Mark Teixeira over that span.
*There can be little doubt that playing in Petco Park detrimentally impacts Gonzalez's stats. Need evidence? His road OPS was the 3rd-best mark in the National League in 2010.
*Arguably no player was more "clutch" than Adrian Gonzalez in 2010. He posted the highest batting average with runners in scoring position in the league.
* The comparison everyone will want to make is -- how does Adrian Gonzalez stack up against Mark Teixeira? Well, it's not quite as close as you'd probably think.
Some miscellaneous numbers
* Gonzalez's 2010 HR distribution: L: 13 -- C: 5 -- R: 13
* Avg: HR Distance: 393 feet
* 18 of Gonzalez’ home runs either took the lead or tied the game.
* 19 of Gonzalez’ home runs came on fastball variations (2 Seam, 4 Seam, Cutter)
* 8 of his home runs at PETCO were considered “just enough”
* 16 of his home runs overall were considered “just enough”
* 15 of his home runs came against divisional opponents
* 11 of his home runs came against playoff opponents (10 NL, 1 vs. Tampa Bay)
* Gonzalez has never had a teammate hit 30 home runs. Will Venable was second on the Padres with 13 home runs hit in 2010.
* Park Factor:
PETCO Park: 22nd in MLB for HR per game.
Fenway Park: 21st in MLB for HR per game.
* Gonzalez hit better on the road than at home…a trend that may continue considering the parks he’ll be playing in. Yankee Stadium, Rogers Centre, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards were numbers 3,4, and 5 respectively for home runs per game in 2010
Home: .279 BA, .383 OBP, 11 HR, 42 RBI
Road: .315 BA, .402 OBP, 20 HR, 59 RBI
* Also of interest is that Gonzalez actually hit lefties better than righties, but hits for more power against righties. Why is this significant? Consider the Yankees could have lefties CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and potentially Cliff Lee all pitching for them in 2011. Also factor in David Price from Tampa, Ricky Romero from Toronto and Brian Matusz from Baltimore are all lefties. And that’s just in the division.
Outside the division you have Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, and Francisco Liriano et all who he will most likely have to face.
Vs. RHP: .278 BA, .377 OBP, 23 HR, 68 RBI, 64 BB, 80 K
Vs. LHP: .337 BA, .424 OBP, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 29 BB, 34 K
* Gonzalez rates right alongside Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard as the game's preeminent power-hitting first baseman. And the amazing thing is that if you put him in a friendlier hitter's ballpark, his numbers would be gargantuan.
Gonzalez hit 37 home runs at PETCO Park over the last 3 seasons. That's a lot especially considering this. PETCO is BY FAR the worst park in the National League for a left-handed power hitter.
A metric called "park factor" compares the numbers of teams and their opponents at home and on the road. PETCO's park factor for lefties, as tracked by Baseball Info Solutions, from 2008 to 2010 is a 59.
To calculate how many home runs Gonzalez would hit at a ballpark that treated lefties in a "neutral" manner, we take the 37 home runs he hit and divide by point-59.
We would then take that total (62.7) and adjust it for Fenway Park, whose Park Factor is 88. So we multiply 62.7 by .88
And from that, we can tell you.
The 37 home runs that Gonzalez hit at PETCO over the last 3 seasons is the equivalent to a lefty hitter hitting 55 in that period in Fenway Park.
Another point to consider in Gonzalez's move to Fenway is that Gonzalez is not the typical pull-power lefty hitter. He actually has better power numbers when hitting to the opposite field.
According to Inside Edge, 13 of his 31 HR (42 percent) were to the opposite field; the average MLB LHB hit 13 percent of his homers to left. Only Joey Votto had more opposite field homers (18) among lefties.
His slugging percentage to left was .810 and to right it was .536; the average MLB LHB slugged .444 to left and .594 to right.
This opposite-field power should become even more pronounced at Fenway with the Green Monster in left field.
Using Hit Tracker (compiled by Derek Czenczelewski): Gonzalez has hit 62 home runs to Left and Left Center since 2006 – of the 22 at PETCO Park, all 22 would be homers at Fenway. 40 hit on the road, 3 would not have been home runs at Fenway.
* When the Padres faltered in September/October, you could make an argument that a significant reason was the struggles of the Padres offense. And while Adrian Gonzalez was mega-clutch, as evidenced by a .407 BA with RISP, he didn't do as much damage in September/October (partly because he didn't have the frequency of chances he had earlier in the year)
* What will be the defensive impact of Gonzalez taking over first base in Boston? Let's assume that Kevin Youkilis then moves to third base (and Adrian Beltre does not return the Red Sox).
According to Baseball Info Solutions, Gonzalez has rated as an average/below-average defender in 4 of his 5 seasons, and last year had a -1 plus/minus rating (which means he made an estimated one fewer play than the average first baseman). Youkilis has rated as an above-average defender at first base in each of the last 5 seasons, and last year had a +5 rating.
Gonzalez's main issue last year was on balls to his right, where he had a -8 rating (made 8 fewer plays than avg 1B) -- but this might not be a significant problem in Boston, since Dustin Pedroia last year had a +3 rating on balls to his left.
Youkilis played nearly 500 innings at third base in 2009 and was above-average, with a +10 rating. He will replace Beltre, who was nearly equal to Youkilis last year, with a +8 rating.
So it appears that, based on historical performance, the Red Sox will be sacrificing some defense at first base with the addition of Gonzalez to the lineup, while there should be little impact on the other side of the infield with Youkilis moving to third base.