Monday, December 06, 2010

Adrian Gonzalez

The Red Sox have made a trade. They've acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes. Kelly and Rizzo were generally acclaimed as the top two prospects in the Red Sox system, and Fuentes, while young, is thought to have a very high ceiling. So the cost in prospects is high.

The cost in dollars is going to be high, too. While they have not submitted a contract extension to Major League Baseball, it is being reported that the deal has been agreed upon. The Red Sox will pay Gonzalez $167 million over the next eight years1.

Is he worth it? He's obviously a very good hitter, but is he a great hitter? Let's look at him against his peers, over a period of time. Over the last three years, the 20 best hitters in MLB by Runs Created:
20 highest RC - MLB - 2008-2010
Albert Pujols 467458167933955612821263693221161819437112262.331.439.6351.074427.88.78
Miguel Cabrera 4704681775292558115310935621352113281051855.314.388.567.954361.56.98
Prince Fielder 48248217572834909051123263085742410652038.279.395.527.922360.66.78
Mark Teixeira 471469178431850912031053512712832329411745.285.386.533.918357.36.68
Matt Holliday 4534491716296541122677300215242629851141135.315.397.528.925351.47.11
Ryan Braun 4664591865306565123149432315562535548131037.303.363.535.898349.86.43
Hanley Ramirez 4464361708318537104778249217352431694301428.314.396.520.917349.47.02
Adrian Gonzalez 48247217592805019231073192867514365111162.285.387.523.910335.96.29
Joey Votto 432412154225748410668628122027133332711626.314.403.558.960332.77.55
Ryan Howard 4654581776297477861312439521536175421031536.269.350.541.892326.26.03
Chase Utley 430427160330045589108026221520692775041718.284.388.502.890325.86.86
Adam Dunn 47546416212454138821163083153920540231125.255.380.526.906324.46.50
David Wright 461458174829051911787229923722941961252943.297.378.497.875323.26.09
Ichiro Suzuki 4704692005265652811423131128401222211122612.325.368.414.782319.05.69
Nick Markakis 478475186627955713865024822816730423111640.298.374.459.833317.25.76
Joe Mauer 4214011569280534104646256225366166662253.340.420.502.922314.77.04
Kevin Youkilis 3833761391267429105107527119716383001481824.308.404.560.964306.27.56
Jayson Werth 44940515432774318868725123015194225371824.279.376.513.889304.36.55
Dan Uggla 46345916842814449529628724712174701171230.264.361.493.855299.05.79
Alex Rodriguez 39939414762564227939532820417253123681936.286.378.537.914294.56.59

Without digging at all, he's one of the best 10-12 hitters in baseball. But he's also playing in about the worst park for hitters in baseball. What happens when he gets out on the road, away from spacious Petco? Here's the same list, only for just RC in road games.
20 highest Road RC - MLB - 2008-2010
Albert Pujols 2332298691802765826818715460101151361033.318.422.6241.046207.78.09
Adrian Gonzalez 2422379271682875617019211935817711726.310.390.599.989199.87.40
Ryan Braun 2342309781583096774317172113177289220.316.370.531.901183.56.55
Joey Votto 21920979513826266340140117176173192414.330.418.571.989182.68.26
Prince Fielder 24024090514025246253163152312820521725.278.396.509.905178.76.51
Hanley Ramirez 2222178781482775633210594171314153131012.315.386.495.881170.56.70
Miguel Cabrera 2322319051322745625417499225185341031.303.371.548.919169.66.27
Adam Dunn 2322227881252095125614615314102752269.265.389.548.937167.77.04
Nick Markakis 2412409321402836952312613283153147822.304.389.462.851166.36.06
Chase Utley 2152148201472295373412710893914027178.279.386.485.871162.96.71
Matt Holliday 2212188541402645813311897910148314716.309.383.495.879162.96.60
Ryan Howard 234230914146241446652051012010263411020.264.340.538.878162.05.75
Ichiro Suzuki 236235101912732343613616519610854942.317.360.409.769159.45.59
Dan Uggla 2292278611382415524614510751022062914.280.363.509.871157.76.11
Joe Mauer 212203820130268573221251122019721919.327.404.484.889156.76.74
Mark Teixeira 232231897145234581431521351615168411025.261.363.472.835152.95.47
David Wright 232230915137262662341541047322927151522.286.356.474.830150.65.34
Evan Longoria 214209811131228704381509710121851321324.281.361.518.879147.95.94
Kevin Youkilis 19018670812520948736118101718151102615.295.394.535.929146.97.03
Justin Morneau 185183714111219511411379518111801614.307.386.553.939145.57.05

This guy is a great hitter. By all accounts, he's an excellent defensive first baseman. He 28, and should be in his peak performance years for the next 2-3 years, and excellent for several years more. This is exactly the kind of guy in whom you make the kind of investment that they're making. He makes them better now, and he's the kind of fixture in the middle of your lineup that you look to build around. 

So yes, he's worth it. 

He also gives them the best offensive third baseman in baseball, as Youkilis moves across the diamond, back to his original position.  I have some concern about his defensive capabilities over there, but assume he'll be competent, and hit sufficiently well to offset any defensive deficiencies.  Add in Pedroia at 2nd, and it's going to be one of the best infields in baseball, whoever ends up playing SS.  We don't know yet what the final roster will look like, but we know this much - the Red Sox will, again, be one of the best teams in baseball when the season starts...

1 - As no one's seen the contract, it's not clear (at least not to me) at this time whether that includes this coming season, for which he's already under contract, or not.  Is it an eight-year contract that renegotiates the first year?  An eight-year extension?  A seven-year extension to the current deal?  My guess is the last of those choices, but I don't know for sure.

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