Boston Red Sox: How Concerned Should We Be About Adrian Gonzalez?
Even with his current 14-game hitting streak, Boston's $154 million man is on pace for career worsts in batting average, home runs, walks, OBP and slugging percentage.
Now, with half the season played, how concerned should Red Sox Nation be about Adrian's poor performance?
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Before last season, the one thing keeping Adrian Gonzalez from competing for a Triple Crown was his batting average. Averaging 36 home runs in his last three years in San Diego, his power wasn't far off, and in a more potent lineup, his RBI totals would be solid.
A career batting average of .284 wasn't going to come close to a batting title, though.
2011 was a different story, as his 213 hits led the league. This year has seen his average fall back down from the career-best .338 he managed in 2011 to .275—the lowest mark of his career.
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On his current 14-game hitting streak, Gonzalez is hitting over .350 but take a closer look at the numbers and it doesn't seem so impressive.
In that stretch, he has a mere three extra base hits. He has two doubles and a sole home run, which increased his total on the season to six.
In the last five years, he has managed 30, 36, 41, 31 and 27 home runs. This year he is on pace for 12. For the first half of this season, Adrian has been a singles hitter and even on his current streak of better at bats, he is finding it impossible to make it past first base.
Walks and Strikeouts
Gonzalez has seen his walk rate fall for the last four years, from a high of 17.5 percent in 2009 to just 6.5 percent this year. By contrast, his strikeout rate is his highest since 2008, whiffing in 17.9 percent of his at bats.
He has never swung at pitches outside the strike zone as often as he has this year and is taking fewer pitches.
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That's not to say there are no positive signs from 2012. Gonzalez has struggled to hit full stop, but his hits have come much more often with men on base.
With the bases empty, he is hitting just .253. Put men on base, though, and that increases to .306; with runners in scoring position, his average is an impressive .370.
He also has 24 doubles, the most on the Red Sox, and his 43 RBI rank tied for second on the team.
How Concerned Should We Be?
Ultimately, it's more than likely that Gonzalez' numbers will be more respectable come the end of the season.
Even if they don't, the Chicago White Sox' Adam Dunn is living proof of how power can disappear and reappear from one season to the next.
Last year, after seven consecutive 38-homer seasons, Dunn hit just 11 and was a half-dozen at bats away from having the worst batting average in major league history. 2012 has been kinder, and Dunn is on pace for a career-high 50 home runs.
Gonzalez will turn things around, if not this year than the next. If the Sox are to have playoff aspirations, they need him to do so sooner rather than later.
Adam MacDonald is a Scottish journalism student at GCU. He has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. You can follow him on Twitter, or tell him how awesome/terrible this article was by clicking here.