Adrian Gonzalez: RBI Machine! Circumstantial Benefactor!

Adrian Gonzalez is having a fantastic season. Aside from a decently powerless first month (powerless being a relative term as his slash for April was a respectable: .314/.379./457), Gonzalez has been steadily brilliant. He is having a fine season. There is no disputing this fact. Because of his gaudy RBI totals and power profile, he will (if Jose Bautista cools) be in the MVP conversation come August and September. Much of this good fortune is due to a cavalcade of OBP machines acting as a metaphorical cushion around his middle of the order ambient presence.


Peter Abraham, courtesy of the Boston Globe, elaborates:

"I’ve been able to hit a couple of solo home runs here or there. But it’s all about the guys ahead of me,’’ Gonzalez said. "RBIs are all about the guys ahead of you. Those guys are doing an incredible job of giving me multiple opportunities every day.’’

Gonzalez does have the ability to take advantage of the situation.

"He has a knack. He understands what he’s got to do. Whether it’s shorten up or try and hit the ball out of the ballpark,’’ manager Terry Francona said.

Gonzalez explained how having runners on base helps make him a better hitter.

As far as Gonzalez is concerned, the credit belongs to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, the hitters ahead of him in the game’s most potent lineup.

"They’re going to pitch the way they’re going to pitch. But when you have people on base, the pitcher doesn’t want to walk you and put you on base,’’ he said.

The problem with such assertions, is that the main variable in place is nebulous and faulty. The idea of batting average with runners in scoring position is a wildly misleading stat. It is a fruit that is commonly mistaken for a root. It is, as Adrian Gonzalez is somewhat aware, a result of the players hitting before and after. It is also mostly the result of luck (talent and luck). Adrian Gonzalez is a good hitter. His isolated power is at .240 (a tick over his career, but not a high). He also hits the ball extremely hard, which is part of the reason why he has been able to sustain a BABIP above league average for most of his career, but this year it is extremely high: unsustainably high. He is an excellent ball player, a fantastic fielder, and a seemingly good guy, but, odds are, he's just going to get (relatively) worse as the year rolls on.

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