Gonzalez in Fenway: A Prediction Thread

When's the season start? In more than three months? Crap.

The big question for 2011, at least for the moment, is what kind of effect Adrian Gonzalez will see as he both moves from an easier league to a harder one and moves from a brutal home park to a generous one. It's worth noting that throughout Gonzalez's career, the National League parks he hit the worst in were:

  1. Dodger Stadium (.663 OPS in 190 PA)
  2. Dolphin Stadium (.799 OPS in 72 PA)
  3. Petco Park (.808 OPS in 1,650 PA)
  4. AT&T Park (.832 OPS in 205 PA)

Gonzalez every year was playing 99 of 162 games in three of the National League's best pitchers' parks — and performed accordingly.


Of course, the NL West also includes Coors Field and Chase Field, two of the league's best hitters' parks. But those parks aren't anywhere near the ballparks where he performed the best:

  1. Miller Park (1.302 OPS in 85 PA)
  2. Great American Ballpark (1.192 OPS in 74 PA)
  3. Citizens Bank Park (1.175 OPS in 74 PA)
  4. RFK Stadium/Nationals Park (1.179/1.143 OPS in combined 68 PA)
  5. Busch Stadium (1.114 OPS in 76 PA)
  6. Wrigley Field (1.093 OPS in 85 PA)
  7. Coors Field (1.022 OPS in 215 PA)
  8. Chase Field (.992 OPS in 193 PA)

Given Gonzalez will play a hefty chunk of his games in AL East parks — 117, as a matter of fact — let's look at some comparisons between them and their NL West brethren, courtesy ESPN's park factors:

Runs:

  1. Coors Field, 1.364 (1)
  2. Yankee Stadium, 1.177 (2)
  3. Oriole Park, 1.112 (5)
  4. Fenway Park, 1.083 (7)
  5. Rogers Centre, 1.058 (8)
  6. Chase Field, 1.049 (9)
  7. AT&T Park, 0.942 (22)
  8. Dodger Stadium, 0.939 (23)
  9. Petco Park, 0.882 (26) 
  10. Tropicana Field, 0.800 (30)

Not only does Gonzalez go from one of the five worst hitters' parks to one of the seven best, but he goes from a division with three of the 10 worst hitters' parks to one with four of the 10 best. The difference is even more pronounced when considering park effects on home runs:

  1. Coors Field, 1.496 (2)
  2. Yankee Stadium, 1.420 (3)
  3. Rogers Centre, 1.358 (4)
  4. Oriole Park, 1.262 (5)
  5. Chase Field, 1.063 (12)
  6. Dodger Stadium, 1.016 (14)
  7. Tropicana Field, 0.936 (17)
  8. AT&T Park, 0.885 (20)
  9. Fenway Park, 0.871 (21)
  10. Petco Park, 0.856 (22)

Fenway, of course, is a notorious home run depressor, but ESPN notes that while it reduces home runs for lefties by 12 percent — likely because of the deep right field — Petco is even worse, sporting an ugly lefty home run park factor of 59 (a 41 percent reduction over an offense-neutral park). Meanwhile, other than Coors, the AL East features three parks at the top of the list, while Petco is firmly on the bottom.

That ESPN article also says, almost as an aside, that every single one of the home runs Gonzalez hit to left field in Petco would have been homers at Fenway, too, even accounting for the height of the Green Monster. This strikes me as significant. Gonzalez's home average of more than 12 home runs per season the past three years is a baseline, then, particularly with Fenway's right-field fences possibly moving in 10 feet next year. 

While many stats try to adjust for ballpark — OPS+, wRC+ and WAR among the most popular — they can only do so by looking at park factors. If those park factors fail to account for the specific circumstances of a player such as Gonzalez, then they might turn out to be using a faulty premise.

Could Gonzalez be even better than the combined 157 OPS+ he put up in 2009-10, already good for fourth in baseball? Better than the 152 wRC+ he posted in that same timeframe (same scale and adjustments as OPS+, only based on the linear-weights wOBA instead of OPS), fifth-best in baseball?

It's an attractive thought for Red Sox fans. The only way to find out, of course, is to play the games. Until then, all we can do is guess. So add your predictions here.

Bonus stats

Here are the Sox' two new additions if they had been playing in Fenway Park last year, according to Baseball-Reference's stats neutralizer:

  • Adrian Gonzalez (actual .298/.393/.511, 33 2B, 31 HR): .323/.421/.555, 37 2B, 35 HR
  • Carl Crawford (actual .307/.356/.495, 62 XBH): .339/.390/.545, 71 XBH

13 comments… add one

  • Crawford’s fictional bump is a huge tease. Hopefully it’s accurate.
    I peg Gonzalez at .307/.417/.524 with 37 homers and 117 RBI.
    I made this prediction by spinning a pen on top of a piece of legal paper with numbers on it.

    SF December 13, 2010, 11:45 am
  • I had Adrian Gonzalez on my fantasy team for the last three years. I had him on a very good contract. Our league only allows us to keep players for three years and then back to the auction block. Last season was his last for me.
    This is about the worst case scenario. He goes to a much friendlier hitting park and it’s for the Sox and it’s the year after I lose him.
    The only hope I have that his numbers will be slightly down from that insane BR neutral line is the fact that the AL East is the home of amazing lefty pitching. Well, it could be if Lee and Pettitte sign with the Yanks.
    Price
    Lee
    Sabathia
    Pettitte
    Matusz
    Romero
    Too bad Lester can’t pitch against him as well.

    Nick-YF December 13, 2010, 12:48 pm
  • In 2009 Pettitte was solid against the Sox, and last year he was flat-out awful. I am not sure that Pettitte makes the Sox nervous, especially not a year older and coming off an injury.
    Lee and Sabathia, that’s another story.

    SF December 13, 2010, 12:51 pm
  • Adrian Gonzalez: 87 homers, 220 RBI
    Carl Crawford: .400 batting average, 140 SB

    Atheose - SF December 13, 2010, 1:02 pm
  • I’m guessing:
    AG: .318, .450, .565 with 39HR and 116RBI
    Of course, all that depends on who is hitting where, but I think he puts up great numbers if he’s healthy.

    Brad December 13, 2010, 1:31 pm
  • I also think we put too much emphasis on what lefty v. what lefty.
    AG hit’s lefties fine, but in the broader spectrum of things, he’s only going to face everyone on that list a few times…the rest of the time he gets to face righties that aren’t as talented.
    But, it does become very important if say, he faces CC and Lee twice in a ALCS!

    Brad December 13, 2010, 1:33 pm
  • I think his numbers will go up in the counting stats categories. I think his OBP will go down a bit because he won’t be walked nearly as much as he was in SD when the next best hitter was Chase Headley.

    Nick-YF December 13, 2010, 1:51 pm
  • I think Nick is right that his walks will go down, but of course his hits and slugging will go up, as he’ll see more strikes in those situations, and those situations (usually with RISP) have been ones in which he has been even more beastly than his overall numbers.
    The question is whether additional outs caused by not being intentionally walked will be offset entirely by additional hits from not being intentionally walked plus additional hits caused by playing half his games in Fenway and another sizable chunk in three of the other four AL East ballparks.
    We’ll definitely see his IsoD (OBP-BA, a measure of overall discipline) go down, but his overall BA and OBP might actually be higher.

    Paul SF December 13, 2010, 1:59 pm
  • If I had to guess, there were a good number of walks to Agon that didn’t register as IBB, which were really IBB’s. Again, Chase Headley was the second best hitter on the team. If you got even a little behind in the count to Adrian, why exactly would you pitch to him. I’ll repeat: Headley, second best hitter on the team. So, the IBB number should be a bit higher when trying to predict how much he’ll gain or lose in OBP next season.

    Nick-YF December 13, 2010, 2:06 pm
  • You’re probably right, Nick. Gonzalez saw 30 3-0 counts, among which were 17 intentional walks (56.7 percent) in 2008, before he exploded as a truly elite hitter.
    In 2009, that went up to 51, with just a marginal increase in intentional walks to 21 (41.2 percent). Though in 2010, he saw 52 3-0 counts and a big jump in intentional walks, to 31 (59.6 percent).
    Overall, NL batters last year saw 2,317 3-0 counts, of which 717 were intentional walks (30.9 percent).
    4.2 percent of Gonzalez’s plate appearances went to 3-0 in 2008, which shot up to 7.5 percent in 2009 and 2010. The NL average in 2010 was for 2.3 percent of plate appearances to wind up 3-0.
    Subtract out the intentional walks, and Gonzalez was still seeing double the rate of 3-0 counts as the NL on the whole in 2009, and in 2010, he would have been safely above average, at 3.0 percent.

    Paul SF December 13, 2010, 2:36 pm
  • Dude, I need a slide-rule to follow this conversation.
    That’s not a criticism – just an acknowledgement of my failings when this many numbers and abbreviations are involved…

    IronHorse (YF) December 13, 2010, 3:05 pm
  • We’ll definitely see his IsoD (OBP-BA, a measure of overall discipline)
    Huh, never knew there was a name for this stat. I always noted how much higher someone’s OBP was than their BA, with .100 points higher being pretty damn good.

    Atheose - SF December 13, 2010, 3:13 pm
  • All right, Paul’s just making stuff up, IsoD, right… (frantically googling)…ok, so it is a real stat. This is getting a bit out of hand. Maybe I need to do come up with a stat that subtracts home runs from base on balls and strikeouts, add steals and subtract the number of times the batter adjusts his gloves (or crotch) per at bat times the number of 2-0 counts with runners on 1st and 3rd in the second week of May on a Tuesday night in a retractable roof stadium (when closed), call it something that had a cool acronym and rake in the glory!

    BillsBurgSF December 13, 2010, 10:25 pm

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