Boston's Adrian Gonzalez: Why Such an Absence of Power?

Orly Rios Jr.Analyst IIMay 27, 2012

Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is hitting just .269 on the season.
Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is hitting just .269 on the season.Dave Reginek/Getty Images

The last time Adrian Gonzalez struggled this badly, he was in just his second season in the majors.

In 2005, Gonzalez, then a Texas Ranger, played in just 43 games, totaling 150 at-bats. His stat line for the season read: six home runs, 17 RBI, a .227 batting average and an on-base percentage of .272.

Following the season, Gonzalez was dealt to the San Diego Padres and over the course of the next six full seasons spent between the Padres and the Boston Red Sox (five with San Diego and one with Boston), Gonzalez never hit worse than .277. His worst on-base percentage was .347 back in 2007, the same year he also broke the century mark in RBI.

Gonzalez has been a hitting machine throughout his career, much of it with a pop-less offense in San Diego. Boston's then-general manager Theo Epstein pulled a massive trade involving their top three prospects to land the sure-hitting Gonzalez from San Diego prior to the 2011 season.

Last season, his first with Boston, Gonzalez put up MVP-type numbers, setting career highs in batting average (.338), RBI (117) and on-base percentage (.410).

This year however, Gonzalez has been anything but MVP-like. Through 46 games this season, Gonzalez is hitting just .269 with three homers and 23 RBI.

By the end of this month, Gonzalez's offensive numbers will be well off course compared to the first two months of last season. On May 25th of last year, Gonzalez was hitting .340. This year, he's at .269.

The absence of power however may not entirely be Gonzalez's fault.

For starters, injuries have taken away opportunities for Gonzalez, who is without the offensive protection of Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup. Gonzalez, who usually batted third behind Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, has seen an absence of baserunners ahead of him in the lineup.

With Ellsbury on base, there was always the threat of a steal, which meant pitchers couldn't really mess around with junk pitches to Gonzalez. Now however, Gonzalez isn't seeing great pitches and his stats are showing it.

Gonzalez leads the Red Sox in strikeouts and is tied for 10th place in the American League with 41.

And it's not just strikeouts, it's everything.

Gonzalez leads the Red Sox in only two offensive categories, doubles and strikeouts. Last year, Gonzalez lead Boston in hits, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

With Kevin Youkilis back in the lineup and prospect Will Middlebrooks providing some needed punch to the Red Sox's offense, Gonzalez is being moved around not only in the lineup but also in the field, playing left field instead of first base to make room for Youkilis.

Ellsbury, on the other hand, may not be back until mid-June at the earliest, and for Boston Red Sox fans and Adrian Gonzalez, his return could not come sooner.