What's behind Adrian Gonzalez's struggles?

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
12:51
PM ET
Adrian Gonzalez has struggled in his first month with the Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez enters the Sunday Night Baseball matchup against the Reds tonight homerless in his last 105 at-bats.

Gonzalez was considered a pivotal acquisition by the Dodgers and figures to be a significant factor for good or bad in the season’s last week-and-a-half.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key numbers to keep in mind for his performance the rest of the season.

What’s been the problem?
Since coming to the Dodgers, Gonzalez has been susceptible against pitches thrown up around his eyes.


His flyout to center against Bronson Arroyo yesterday made him 0-for-his-last 11 against pitches thrown to the upper-third of the strike zone and above, and 1-for-16 against such pitches since his acquisition by the Dodgers.

These are typically pitches that Gonzalez hits reasonably well. He had a .270 batting average and .925 OPS against them spanning the 2009 through 2012 seasons, up to the point of the trade.

Gonzalez has also been a bit off his game in two-strike situations. He’s 8-for-56 in such counts with the Dodgers (including 0-for-4 against Reds pitching the previous two days).

Historically, Gonzalez has been one of the game’s better two-strike hitters over the last several seasons. From 2009 to 2011, he hit .220 against two-strike pitches, about 30 points better than the major-league average.

One area of steady production remains
Since joining the Dodgers, Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .333 with runners in scoring position, but just .177 otherwise.

Gonzalez has the third-highest batting average in the majors with runners in scoring position overall, .387, 11 points behind Allen Craig of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Inside tonight’s Matchup
Gonzalez is 6-for-12 with three home runs against Reds starter Homer Bailey. Gonzalez and Seth Smith are the only hitters with three home runs against Bailey in their careers.

This month, Bailey is 2-0 with 1.55 ERA in four starts. His September ERA would be the lowest for a Reds starter (minimum 30 IP) since Jose Rijo’s 1.07 in 1992.

However, he’s 4-7 with a 5.05 ERA at home. The only pitcher who has a higher ERA at home this season is Bailey’s teammate Mike Leake.

On the road, Bailey is 8-2 with a 2.63 ERA. That’s the second-lowest road ERA in the National League this season.

Bailey has also allowed 19 home runs this season in Cincinnati, just five on the road. The 19 HR are the most allowed at home by a National League pitcher this season.

Left-handed hitters are batting .333 against Bailey in Cincinnati compared to .187 (with no home runs) on the road.

If there’s one pitch that doesn’t seem to work at home it’s Bailey’s splitter. Opponents hit it at a.359 clip at Great American Ballpark and just .190 on the road.

Gonzalez has had a rough time with the 37 splitters he’s seen this season. Against them, he’s made 15 outs, and has only two singles.

Offense not impacting his defense
Though Gonzalez has had his offensive issues, he’s produced as expected on the defensive side. He has four Defensive Runs Saved (which measures the ability to turn batted balls into outs and defend against bunts) in 26 games with the Dodgers.

Gonzalez currently leads major league first basemen in Defensive Runs Saved with 17, one more than New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Mark Simon, Keith Hawkins and Jeremy Lundblad contributed research to this post

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