There have been a lot of players like this over the years. Chase Utley. Bobby Abreu. Roy Halladay. The Marlins. And so on and so forth. Guys who put up good to great numbers despite receiving near the bare minimum amount of attention while clowns like Derek Jeter continue to hog the spotlight. Over the course of baseball history there's been a long line of underappreciated star talents, and today I'll present to you a guy who I think deserves to be the newest member of the club.
Through 78 games so far this year, Adrian Gonzalez has hit .296/.367/.557 with the National League lead in RBI and a .930 PrOPS to show it's not just dumb luck (although the RBI might be considering his lineup support). He's also been doing this in the Petco death canyon, and when you adjust for park, his .322 EqA ranks 10th in the NL and 13th overall. Some of the names he's been outperforming: Josh Hamilton, Manny Ramirez, Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and Hanley Ramirez. Through the first half of the season, Adrian Gonzalez has been one of the top 15 hitters in baseball.
Think it's a fluke? Over the past two years he's put up OPS+ figures of 127 and 125, respectively, at the ages of 24 and 25, and now he's beginning to enter his power prime. Between 24-26 he's hit .307/.368/.565 on the road, and he's still getting better. Adrian Gonzalez's offense is no fluke.
Think he's just a positionless slugger? The advanced metrics paint the picture of an above-average defensive first baseman, somewhere between 0 < x < +10 runs per year. The man can hit it and the man can pick it.
which I think is just the funniest thing.
On a better team in a better environment, Adrian Gonzalez would be an early candidate for the 2008 NL MVP. However, because his team sucks and his park is a nightmare, he barely gets noticed, even though he's putting up one of the most impressive offensive seasons in franchise history.
Adrian Gonzalez: hell of a player. No matter how long Jon Daniels goes on kicking himself, it won't be long enough.