Adrian Gonzalez: The Red Sox's Best Pure Hitter of the Last 30 Years?

Patrick LanguzziContributor IIIAugust 26, 2011

It's been almost 30 years since we've first seen the likes of Wade Boggs.

That great left-handed swing that slapped many singles and doubles off the left-field wall of Fenway Park at will.

On December 6, 2010, Adrian Gonzalez was acquired by the Boston Red Sox from the San Diego Padres

Theo Epstein went on to say this about Gonzalez: "Normally, when you watch a great player from afar, you think you have a good feel for the player but the closer you are, the more you see some of the warts. In Adrian's case, it's really been the opposite. The closer you are, the more you appreciate the overall game, the sophistication of his approach to hitting, and how engaged he is in all aspects of the game."

So, is Adrian Gonzalez the Red Sox's best pure hitter we've seen since Wade Boggs back in 1982? He currently sits atop the American League in batting average at .348 and has solidified himself as a legitimate MVP and batting title candidate going in to the final 32 games of the season.

On three consecutive pitches, Gonzalez slapped three home runs and finished out the last three games of a four-game series in Texas going 7-for-12 (.583) with five home runs and eight RBI. 

In an article written by Charles Pierce in The Boston Globe Magazine, Gonzalez was quoted as saying, "I need to focus on what I want to hit, if it's a pitch outside of what I'm looking for, I just won't swing at it."

All signs of a smart, patient, disciplined hitter. He's proven he can hit a home run when he wants to.

"If he could run," said Francona when discussing Gonzalez's speed, "he'd hit .400."

He's only averaged over .300 once (2006) before joining the Red Sox, but then again he played the last five years at Petco Park in San Diego, not the friendliest ballpark for hitters. In fact, it's often referred to as a hitter's graveyard. 

Now playing at Boston's Fenway Park, known as a hitter's ballpark, especially for left-handed hitters, Gonzalez is set up for the next several years and at least for 81 games per year in Fenway. 

Through 2017, Gonzalez projects to have a yearly average of 28 HR, 98 RBI, .309 batting average, .397 OBP and .529 SLG.

If these projections come to fruition, it would be difficult to debate he wasn't one of the best pure hitters the Red Sox have had since Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.  

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