We all know that, when healthy, Carlos Gonzalez is one of the elite players in te game. In 2,166 career at bats he has posted a .299 average to go along with a .371 OBP and .518 slugging percentage. Throw in 20+ stolen bases each of the past three seasons and what is there not to like?
Obviously the health, which always seems to be a issue. However, you also have to start wondering how much of his value stems from playing half his home games at Coors Field. Just look at his numbers from 2012:
- Home – .368, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 58 R
- Road – .234, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 31 R
Of course there was some luck involved, with a .425 BABIP at home compared to a .272 mark on the road. To an extent it’s not a surprise, as hitters at generally more comfortable at home where they are used to the sight lines. However, can it make that big of a difference that he holds a 25.7% line drive rate at home and a 17.3% mark on the road?
Before we answer that, let’s look at the previous two seasons to see if this is a one year aberration or a trend:
Home – .380, 26 HR, 76 RBI, 70 R
Road – .289, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 41 R
(road line drive rate of 18.5% and BABIP of .375)
Home – .331, 16 HR, 60 RBI, 61 R
Road – .252, 10 HR, 32 RBI, 31 R
(road line drive rate of 17.1% and BABIP of .288)
Clearly, 2012 was no aberration. Gonzalez is a superstar at home, but a mere mortal player on the road. Part of that is the thin air and bigger ballpark, and I do believe part of that is seeing the ball better as displayed by his career 18.2% strikeout rate at home vs. 24.2% on the road. Thin air may help you hit more home runs and bigger confines may help you find more holes, but they don’t help you make better contact.
Obviously, if Gonzalez were to ever leave the Rockies our view of hm would change dramatically. At this point, however, we don’t need to worry about that. Playing half his games at Coors Field, where he has consistently hit well over .300, is going to be more than enough to keep him as an extremely good option. If he can get lucky and post road numbers between what he did in 2010 and 2011, he is going to be elite.
Is he a player who should be sat down on the road? I certainly wouldn’t go that far, because his speed, runs scored and potential should keep him viable regardless. Just know that, if something were to happen, you would want to cash in before the rest of your league figures it out.
What are your thoughts of Gonzalez? Is he a player you believe should be sat down on the road? Why or why not?
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