On the most recent episode of Ride The Pine – The Biggest Trade In The History Of Sports – we made a claim that the Los Angeles Dodgers newly acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez performs best in ballparks with empty seats and it wasn’t surprising that he hit a home run in his first at bat with the Dodgers because, as the pretty graphic shows you, there were a lot of empty seats.
You can check out the home run below:
We wanted to dig a little deeper into this claim and examine the facts to see if we really know what we are talking about (probably not).
Lets first compare his home vs away stats thus far in 2012. At home with the Boston Red Sox, who have a (debatable) sell-out streak since 2003, Gonzalez was hitting .319 with 8 Home Runs. On the road, Gonzalez is hitting .276 with 7 home runs.
Conclusion: In 2012, Gonzalez is hitting better in a sold-out ballpark.
Lets look back at Gonzalez in 2011, his only full year with the Red Sox. Adrian hit the lowest amount of home runs (27) since 2006 which was his first full season in the majors with the San Diego Padres. Surprising since most baseball experts would agree that its a lot easier to hit home runs out of Fenway Park than San Diego’s Petco Park. Yet he was able to have a career high in batting average of .338 which is over .30 higher than any other year in his career. The numbers start getting interesting when you break down his 2011 home vs away stats. On the road, Gonzalez hit more home runs (17 vs 10) had a better slugging % (.579 vs .516) more RBI (62-55) and better OPS (.986 vs .929). Gonzalez had a better batting average at Fenway (.347 vs .329).
Conclusion: Gonzalez can sure slap those singles in sold-out ballparks but his power numbers definitely declined.
These numbers bring up a couple of questions. Is Adrian Gonzalez hitting a point in his career where his power numbers start to decline? At 30 years old, you would think he has a LOT more left in the tank. Is it harder to hit home runs and have better power numbers in the AL East as oppose to the NL West? Its safe to say that the competition is better in the AL East but the parks (specifically Fenway and Yankees Stadium) are a lot easier to hit home runs out of than Petco Park in San Diego. Does the pressure of playing in a major baseball market make it harder for Adrian Gonzalez to produce power numbers? The numbers seem to prove that.