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Around The Horn - $
Wed May 30, 2012 1:01am|
By Tim Heaney
KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait or worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?
Is Adrian Gonzalez's power ... gone? Through 194 at-bats, he has four homers and a .412 slugging percentage. Gonzalez, who was a late first- or early second-round pick in mixed leagues, went 27 games without clearing the fences before clubbing his third of the year May 18. That's hardly a studly foundation.
Oh, how we long for the days he called Arlington home. Fenway Park was considered a major obstacle for his production when he first landed with the Boston Red Sox. He clubbed 10 in a white uni compared to 17 in grays last year. His opposite-field style has likely lost plenty of potential taters to the Green Monster. This year in Beantown, he has one oppo taco and one pull tater. The remaining two were road same-fielders.
Though the 30-year-old's .316 BABIP falls in line with his career .322, the 2012 in-play dispersion cements his left-field targeting and explains some of the collateral damage in his fantasy output. The defense is profiling him with their first-base-slanted shifts, and he's happy to go the other way. The liner-fly-grounder splits are astoundingly favorable (especially with his 60.5 percent loft rate) for going toward the 7, as well. Gonzalez's spray chart was similar last year except for much better luck to the same field.
What's raising more fear is the shoulder that was surgically repaired before last season. Its fatigue probably contributed to his second-half sluggishness in 2011, and though he stresses that it isn't a concern now and instead blames mechanics, you have to wonder if that's why he isn't turning on pitches with as much authority when he does.
Maybe it's not just increased defensive attention. Maybe his bat speed is what's gone.
He hit one homer last April and, after hitting nine in May, wound up with 27 - not what many desired but still a respectable figure. He's doing enough production-wise - 16 doubles, 26 RBIs - to justify sitting in the middle of a lineup that's staying afloat without Carl Crawford (elbow) and Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder). Oddly enough, Gonzalez's fly-ball rate is up, and his rate of infield pop-ups is down.
That hint of drive bodes well for the future, but the fact that he hasn't replicated last year's May recovery means he'll have to pick up the tempo soon to reach a similar ending.
Backing his assertion that it's technical woes, he's making an effort to tinker a few different ways with his swing. A positive step? Hitting coach Dave Magadan didn't have much success attempting to correct Crawford last year, and though procedure accounted for only a portion of CC's struggles, how confident are you that he can flip Gonzalez's switch? Since Gonzalez has seemingly been adapting constantly throughout his career in this manner, you're justified in thinking it's a normal process, but he's a bit older with a bit more wear and might not be capable of adjusting on a dime anymore.
A slight bright side is his newfound outfield eligibility in many leagues, which makes waiting him out more palatable; added roster versatility will often extend a player's rope.
Unfortunately, it seems like until he naturally regains his power stroke (and shoulder strength?), he's settling for targeting the Monstah and beating the defense. As he's banging rawhide off the big wall, those in leagues that count home runs are thumping their heads against theirs.
Gonzalez's statistical recovery in OBP and SLG leagues deserves more faith than its chances in traditional formats. He's probably more likely to finish near the bottom of the top 12 mixed 1B than he is to regain his elite draft value.
His owners won't mind the positive regression that should come, considering his track record, but in tabulating homers along with something close to .290 and 100 RBIs, you're better off betting on 20 instead of 30. Panicking and selling for pennies ... no, don't. He's still a top-notch bat with his innate skills. But if another owner starts dialogue about Gonzalez with a less stressful first-round type and you've since draft day accumulated extra first-base help, you should at least listen.