CINCINNATI -- Adrian Gonzalez is one of the many hitters adjusting to a drastic increase in overshifts this season, and for perfectly justifiable reasons. When Gonzalez hits a ground ball this season, 61 percent of the time it goes to the right side.
He is the classic profile of a hitter who prompts a team to move its shortstop or third baseman to the right side of the infield: He is left-handed, with power, and very little speed.
And yet the Dodgers don’t necessarily want him radically adjusting his swing or taking a different approach with three infielders defending the right side, the second baseman typically in shallow right field.
“The shift comes from you hitting the ball to one part of the field and they’re just playing percentages, so I think the more you use the whole field, the less they’re going to shift you and I always feel like the ball tells you where to hit it,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “When a left-hander hits a ground ball to the right side, it just tells you he’s a little bit out front. Hanley (Ramirez) does the same thing when he’s struggling, just hits too many ground balls to short and third.
“They just get out front and his bat rolls over, so to me, it just tells me a guy’s out front a click. I know he’s working on it.”
In June, 56 percent of the balls Gonzalez has put in play have been hit on the ground. That contrasts with the 39 percent groundball rate of March and April, when he hit eight of his 12 home runs. It has added up to a protracted slump for Gonzalez, the longest of his career: His batting average has tumbled from .321 to .247 and his OPS has gone from 1.043 to .781.
In his last 34 games, Gonzalez has nearly as many strikeouts (21) as hits (23).