Dodgers: Gonzalez on the Disabled List Still Has Value

Apr 9, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23) in the dugout in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (23) in the dugout in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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It is safe to say that Adrian Gonzalez has almost experienced it all in the 14-years he played in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, he recently experienced something new, for the first time in his career (1,774 games) he was placed on the Disabled List (DL) with right elbow soreness.

The Dodgers’ first baseman had been dealing with problems in his right elbow since mid-February when he was diagnosed with elbow tendonitis. This injury was one that was manageable up until recently when the Dodgers finally decided to shut him down. Gonzalez has not been the hitter the organization is accustomed to seeing.

So far this season, the 35-year-old is hitting a meager .255 with no home runs and 11 RBI. Gonzalez remained in the lineup because while his bat was not producing at its usual rate, the four-time Gold Glove winner’s defense stayed well above-average. The lack of power is what I think finally forced the Dodgers’ hand in deciding to place him on the disabled list.

While the lack of home runs is troubling at this point in the season, Adrian’s slugging percentage is even more alarming. His slugging percentage (total bases/At Bats) is only .309, which is his lowest average in his career by .072! The previous low was also during his first big league called up at the age of 22 when he only played in 16 games.

The Dodgers will certainly miss Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup, but there is a lot of room to be optimistic. Adrian’s real contribution to this team this season has been his defense and his leadership capabilities. He is one of the most outspoken leaders on this Dodger team and can continue to be that while on the disabled list. For the most part, I think the plan is to have him still travel with the team.

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The silver lining to all of this is the opportunity to play Cody Bellinger every day. Last week, I wrote an article stating that Dave Roberts’ plan to send down Bellinger to AAA was the right move for him to get more consistent at-bats. However, with Gonzalez headed to the DL, Bellinger will be playing every day at first base.

Defensively, Bellinger has the potential to be a Gold Glover, but he is not quite there yet. However, Bellinger’s power has translated to major league pitching as he already has five home runs with a slugging percentage of .786 through 11 major league games.

The sample size is still tiny, but Bellinger is looking more and more comfortable at the plate every game. As of right now, with Bellinger in the lineup, the Dodgers are playing with their best lineup.

Make no mistake; I am not saying that Adrian Gonzalez going to the disabled list is the best thing to happen to the Dodgers. I believe he is still a precious asset to this team and I think the Dodgers need him to achieve their playoff aspirations. His leadership contributions and the example he sets for the younger players cannot be quantified into a statistic.

Next: Grading Manager Dave Roberts for the Month of April

However, from a purely statistical standpoint, Bellinger has earned the right to start for the Dodgers, whether it be first base or in the outfield. The Dodgers will be just fine with Adrian Gonzalez on the disabled list and will have a good problem when he finally gets healthy.