After the Boston Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres for prospects, anyone who does projections for the upcoming season has been salivating at the thought of what Gonzalez will do at Fenway Park.
Gonzalez has spent the last five seasons in the very pitcher-friendly PETCO Park, so a change to a much smaller park should give Gonzalez a big boost to his numbers this season.
He's still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and he has yet to begin swinging a bat, despite having already arrived at Spring Training. Gonzalez was expected to be handling a bat on March 1, but he claims he's ahead of schedule.
So with all the projections for Gonzalez in 2011 being thrown around, I thought I'd throw one out there, more like a question really.
Can Adrian Gonzalez collect 100 extra-base hits?
In five seasons in the very spacious PETCO Park, Gonzalez averaged 32 home runs and 99 RBI each season. His average number of extra-base hits was 69.
So can a move to Fenway Park make 100 extra-base hits a realistic possibility for Gonzalez?
Last season, Gonzalez batted .298 with 31 home runs and 101 RBI. He collected 44 XBH, including 33 doubles, 12 at PETCO.
He sent 17 of his 33 doubles, more than half, and 13 of his home runs to the opposite field. Overall, 65 of his 176 hits (36.9 percent) went to left field.
So it's safe to assume that once Gonzalez sets his eyes on the Green Monster, he's going to look to bounce balls off of it all season long. Gonzalez had an estimated nine outs at PETCO last season which would have gone for extra bases or home runs at Fenway Park, according to Michael Hurley of NESN.com.
The most home runs Gonzalez has ever hit in a single season was 40 in 2009, and his highest total for both doubles (43) and triples (3) came in 2007. So that would be 86 extra base hits.
Let's assume Gonzalez gets at least one triple. Last season he didn't have any, but in each of the previous five season, he had at least one, so I think it's a safe assumption.
If Gonzalez can improve his career highs in home runs by just six and doubles by just 10, and he gets that one triple, that's 100 extra-base hits.
Is a projection of 46 home runs and 53 doubles out of the question for a hitter of Gonzalez's ability, in a lineup like Boston's? I don't think so.
In case you're curious, Babe Ruth holds the all-time, single season record for extra-base hits with 119 in 1921. The only active player to collect 100 or more extra-base hits in a season is Todd Helton, who actually did it twice—103 in 2000 and 105 in 2001.
So it's clearly not impossible, though Helton's feat needs to be kept in perspective for obvious reasons.
Overall, 12 different players have done it.
Will Gonzalez add his name to that list this season? Red Sox fans certainly hope so, and I'm sure Gonzalez himself wouldn't mind either.