What happened in 2016: After a slow start to the season, Adrian Gonzalez regained some power in the second half that gave hope that he’s not quite done yet.
At the end of June, Gonzalez asked manager Dave Roberts for a couple of games off while in Pittsburgh to decompress and hopefully recharge after having the worst month of his career. A sombrero-clad Gonzalez strolled through the stadium and clubhouse offering some humor to his teammates and giving himself a moment to unwind.
— Adrián González (@Adrian_ElTitan) June 27, 2016
Gonzalez hit .223/.295/.319/.614 in June with just seven extra-base hits (six doubles and one home run). His isolated power of .150 for the year was the lowest of his career, and he hit ten less home runs (18) than the previous year coinciding with a 45 point drop in slugging percentage.
Dustin wrote about Gonzalez’s decreased power and increased ground-ball rate in June.
“The most glaring reason for his decline — possibly on account of a sore back — is Gonzalez’s ground ball rate. It has skyrocketed this season. Of his batted balls, 52.6 percent of them have been hit on the ground, while his career rate is 40.7 percent. In 2013-15, it was 38.2, 38.4 and 37.3 percent, respectively. This is due to his launch angle decreasing dramatically.”
Gonzalez told Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times that he was over complicating his approach at the plate rather than being affected by his attempts to defeat the infield shift, a theory Dave Roberts brought up.
“Every at-bat has been a grind,” Gonzalez said. “I’m thinking about my mechanics. I’m thinking about where my hands are, where my legs are, where I want to hit the ball. And then the ball’s by me. And then the next at-bat, I’m like ‘I’m not going to think about anything, I’m just going to get the [bat] head out.’ And then they throw me a changeup, and I roll over.”
Gonzalez also stated that his offensive decline was not due to lingering effects of injuries to his neck and back that flared up in Spring Training and treated with an epidural in May.
“I haven’t had any symptoms in three weeks,” Gonzalez said. “And I think that’s why I’m putting so much pressure on myself. Because I’m like ‘I’m finally healthy. I should be doing good.’ You’re just pressing for that, rather than letting it happen.”
After the reprieve in Pittsburgh, Gonzalez hit .304/.361/.492/.853 through the remainder of the season with 12 home runs and 20 doubles in 78 games, re-establishing his role as the butter and egg man, a moniker bestowed on him by Vin Scully. He once again led the club (tied with Justin Turner) with 90 RBI on the year.
One of Gonzalez’s most memorable games was on August 22, when he hit three home runs off three different Cincinnati pitchers.
Even though Gonzo only hit .195/.250/.341 in 11 postseason games, his solo home run at Wrigley Field in Game 2 of the NLCS was the only Dodger run of the game in the 1-0 LA win over the Cubs.
2017 status: Gonzalez is due just less than $45 million in the final two years of his contract and will continue to be the starting first baseman until Cody Bellinger is ready for the majors.