Adrian Gonzalez…What the Hell?

Adrian Gonzalez was one of the hottest hitters in baseball to start off 2014, once the calendar flipped from April to May though his performance went into a complete nose dive. Check out the table below that shows some of Gonzalez’s monthly splits.

[table id=872 /]

Gonzalez went from being one of the best hitters in baseball to being a complete drain on fantasy baseball rosters. Why has the Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman struggled so much recently? What should fantasy owners expect moving forward?

Why is he struggling?

There are a couple of reasons why Gonzalez is struggling.

1. He can’t hit left-handed pitching to save his life.

Gonzalez has always been an above-average left-handed hitter when it comes to hitting left-handed pitching. For his career, he has a .275/.340/.435 slash line against southpaws to go with a .160 ISO, .337 wOBA and 19.6 percent strikeout percentage. This season, he has a .177/.250/.253 slash line against lefties to go with a microscopic .076 ISO and a .232 wOBA. Gonzalez hit .297 with three extra base hits against lefties in April; he’s hit just .119 with one extra base hit against them since.

2.He struggling to hit fastballs… and off-speed pitches.

Brooks Baseball classifies all pitches into one of these three categories.

  • Hard (fastballs, sinkers, cutters)
  • Breaking (sliders, curveballs)
  • Offspeed (changeups, splitters).

Throughout his career Gonzalez has been an excellent hitter against the hard stuff, an above-average hitter against the off-speed pitches and he’s always struggled against breaking balls. This season, he’s continued to struggle against breaking balls but he’s now also struggling with the hard stuff and he’s been abysmal against off-speed pitches.

Gonzalez has a career .313 AVG to go with a .532 SLG and a .219 ISO against hard pitches and he’s hit a home run against the fast stuff once every 19.97 at-bats. Gonzalez was red hot against hard pitches to start the season but since May 1, he’s hit just .252 to go with a .369 SLG and a .117 ISO against them and he’s hit a home run just once every 51.5 at-bats. Gonzalez has specifically struggled with four-seam fastballs. For his career he’s hit .290 against the fastball to go with a .521 SLG and a .231 ISO; since the calendar flipped to May though, he’s hit just .150 against heaters to go with a .217 SLG and a .067 ISO.

When it comes to the off-speed stuff, Gonzalez has a career .276 batting average to go with a .497 SLG and a .220 ISO and he’s hit a home run once every 18.4 at-bats. For the season, he’s hitting just .182 against off-speed offerings to go with a .318 SLG and a .136 ISO; and he’s hit just one home run in 44 at-bats.

Gonzalez’s 52 percent swing percentage is the highest it’s been since he was with the Texas Rangers back in 2005, his 79 percent contact percentage is the lowest it’s been since 2010 and his 10.6 percent swinging strike percentage is his highest since 2008.

There is clearly something wrong with Adrian Gonzalez at the plate. Whether it’s a problem with timing or an inability to recognize pitches, something is definitely off.


What should fantasy baseball owners do?

Adrian Gonzalez presents a difficult dilemma for fantasy owners. He’s too talented of a player to drop but at the same time he’s playing so poorly at the moment that if you leave him in your lineup he’s going to do nothing but drag your offense down. You can try to move him in a trade but how much of a return can you reasonably expect for a 32-year old first baseman who has been on the decline for a few seasons now and is in the middle of the worst slumps of his career?

I don’t think Gonzalez is going to hit in the low .200’s for the season; but I also don’t think he’s going to start crushing the ball again like he did in April. I expect things to get better, but not significantly better and it wouldn’t surprise me if he finished this year outside the top-10 among first baseman (he’s currently 13th on ESPN’s player rater). If I could sell Gonzalez for anything, literally anything, that could help my team I would pull the trigger without hesitation.

Adrian Gonzalez still has some name value but if he continues to do what he has in the last month and a half whatever window of opportunity you might currently have to sell the struggling veteran will likely be sealed shut. If you can’t find someone to take Gonzalez off your hands you should do anything you can to find him a temporary (hopefully) home on your bench, and at the very least you should be sitting him whenever the Dodgers are facing a left-handed pitcher.

It’s been a long month and a half for Adrian Gonzalez owners.