What can we expect from Adrian Gonzalez away from PETCO Park?

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One of the things people have always marveled about with Adrian Gonzalez is the fact that he has been able to hit 30+ homers in four consecutive seasons with the Padres, despite playing half of his games in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. So, what can we expect now that A-Gone is about to be set loose?

Well, let’s start by looking at his career home-away splits:

Home: .263/.360/.440 with 61 home runs, 214 RBI and an 800 OPS (.279/.383/.438 with 11 homers, 42 RBI and an 821 OPS in 2010)

Away: .303/.376/.568 with 107 home runs, 311 RBI and a 943 OPS (.315/.402/.578 with 20 homers, 59 RBI and a 980 OPS in 2010)

This is the primary reason why the rest of the American League should be scared. Keep in mind, those home-away splits include 29 games with the Rangers in 2004 and 2005. Factoring in only PETCO Park, he has a .267/.367/.442 batting line to go along with an 808 OPS.

Fenway Park isn’t exactly a home-run haven, but it will certainly be a more fair environment, as Bill James Park Indices routinely ranks PETCO Park as the worst park for a left-handed hitter. Gonzalez’s natural inside-out swing should play brilliantly in Boston. His numbers should also see a nice boost thanks to playing plenty of road games at Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards and Rogers Centre, which cater to left-handed power.

So, what can we expect? Assuming he doesn’t have any setbacks with his shoulder, I’d say 40 home runs is a fair expectation for a full season away from PETCO. With a strong (and hopefully healthy) supporting cast in Boston, he also has a very good chance of topping his previous career-high of 119 RBI back in 2008.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉