With all of the injuries this season, the Boston Red Sox have been, arguably, the least fortunate team in the MLB. However, the biggest disappointment has come from the perfectly healthy Adrian Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, 30, is currently in the worst slump of his career. He's hitting only .267 with five home runs, 35 runs batted in and just 18 walks (one intentional). These stats are absolutely the worst of his career, although his 2009 season wasn't all that much better. It is easy to say that the $154 million dollar man has yet to live up to his expectations.
Now the big question is, what is wrong with Adrian Gonzalez?
When signed, Gonzalez was projected to increase his power numbers greatly, especially seeing as he was transitioning from a pitcher-friendly ballpark in Petco Park, to the smallest one in the league, Fenway Park. The change didn't seem to shake up Gonzalez too badly in 2011, as he set several career highs, despite losing a significant amount of home runs.
As of now, he is not on pace to come close to any of his usual statistics, leading many to speculate what his issue is. In a time of such need for consistent bats, Gonzalez has been shockingly bad. In his last ten games alone, he has a .231 batting average with one home run and a mere nine hits (9-for-39).
Some may blame the transition from the National League, but that is invalid. Otherwise, Gonzalez wouldn't have had the tremendous season he had last year. Even in the prior two seasons in San Diego, Gonzalez produced like he did in 2011.
Others, such as Kevin Dupont and Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe, have speculated it may be a result of the lack of production from David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, as well as the absences of Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross and Carl Crawford. That possibility also seems very unlikely, as Gonzalez was a one-man show during his tenure in San Diego.
He has carried a team on his back before, so it is not as if he is new to the responsibilities that come with being such a power bat.
How will Gonzalez finish this season? (estimate)
Could it be the pressure of Boston? The lack of morale and motivation? Gonzalez surely does lack the fire that other Red Sox players, such as Dustin Pedroia, seem to have. While Gonzalez has been a team player all year, as evidenced by his voluntary move to the outfield, he has lacked the fire and intensity he once had. Could his quiet personality be keeping him from being a killer at the plate? Who knows? He's always been incredible at the plate, quiet or not.
Unless there is a distinct injury that we are unaware of, Adrian Gonzalez is an enigma to the Red Sox. This has happened once before, in 2009. At this point of the season three years ago, Gonzalez had almost identical numbers, before going off to have a phenomenal rest of the season. At this point, that is the only reason we have to believe he will bounce back.
Without any injuries or controversy surrounding Gonzalez, it seems as though Boston fans will have to tough it out and wait for Gonzalez to explode at the plate. It seems as though this is just a career slump, and he will eventually have to break out of it on his own.
He is simply too talented to keep this slump going. Unless, again, there is something Boston is unaware of.
Only time will tell when Gonzalez will break out of his terrible streak. There's little doubt that he'll come out of it sooner or later. There is nothing to blame his poor performance on, other than just bad luck. Red Sox Nation, however, should not be demanding his head on a silver platter yet, as we are only halfway through the season.
Give it time.