Adrian Gonzalez: The Best Player Nobody Talks About

Billy DeCostaCorrespondent IApril 30, 2009

FLUSHING, NY - APRIL 13:  Adrian Gonzalez #23 of the San Diego Padres at bat against the New York Mets during opening day at Citi Field on April 13, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. This is the first regular season MLB game being played at the new venue which replaced Shea Stadium as the Mets home field.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Let's face it, San Diego is baseball's official doormat. The average fan might be able to name two or three players on their roster.

However, among this baseball graveyard is the best player nobody talks about.

Padres first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez.

Call it some strange obsession, but when I see a team like the Nationals or the Padres that are clearly a bad team, I become intrigued and look into who makes up that roster. That's why for all his off-the-field issues, I love Elijah Dukes.

Now, it's kind of strange that I point out Gonzalez, a former No. 1 overall pick and the first infielder picked first since Alex Rodriguez, as a player who flies under the radar.

But along this man's journey the glamour of the first pick wore off, he suffered a wrist injury after which the Marlins, the club who drafted him, thought the injury would hinder his career and traded him away to Texas.

Texas used the young first baseman sparingly, eventually trading him to the low-profile baseball world of San Diego.

Gonzalez finally burst onto the scene during his first season there. He slugged 24 home runs while posting a .304 average. He slugged .500 and showed great defensive prowess.

During the past two seasons, Gonzalez has proven he's here to stay.

Both of those years, he posted 30+ home runs, 100+ RBI, and over 100 walks, showing how efficient he's become at the plate. While he's not a speed demon by any means, he runs the bases intelligently, posting his career-high 48 doubles in 2007.

His defense continued to get better as well, and last season after earning his first all-star selection, Gonzalez got his first Gold Glove.

Gonzalez will turn 27 next week, and has already started this season on a torrid pace. He smashed two bombs in the Padres' loss to Colorado last night.

So far, his stat line: .329 AVG, 9 HR, 19 RBI, .711 SLG, and 1.150 OPS.

Those are early MVP numbers, but with that, I stress the point of this article.

Only the closest followers of baseball really know how good this guy is.

In a city who's baseball bright spots are few and far between, with a half-empty new stadium and major revenue problems, Adrian Gonzalez is a player that any team would love to have. He's a ballplayer's ballplayer, both on and off the field.

Take notice, Major League Baseball. Adrian Gonzalez is reaching stardom.


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