Dodgers: Adrian Gonzalez Still Has a Couple Big Hits Left in His Bat

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 31: Adrian Gonzalez
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 31: Adrian Gonzalez /

Perhaps the most important hits of Adrian Gonzalez’s career, especially with the Dodgers, have yet to be seen.

With a fairly stacked lineup, a rejuvenated bullpen, and a shiny new toy added to their rotation, the Dodgers probably have their most talented team, at least in LA history. When Clayton Kershaw returns, they should be primed and ready to go further into October than they have since your father can remember. LA seemingly has reinforcement upon reinforcement lined up, as an old friend (or two) appear to be on track to return.

There were positive early returns for Adrian Gonzalez (remember him?) and Andre Ethier (who?). Gonzo hit a homer in a simulated game, and Ethier also reportedly looked good. Of his two veterans, Manager Dave Roberts said:

"“Again, I think with Adrian and the same with Andre, just seeing the aggressive swings and seeing pitches come out the first time live. So that was a good step in the right direction for both of those guys.”"

While I still have hope that Andre can come back and contribute, I’ll be focusing here on the Dodgers’ veteran first baseman. For Adrian Gonzalez, it’s been quite a career. Over 300 homers, five All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves and he is four hits away from 2,000. However, as we have all noticed this season, the “Butter and Egg Man” doesn’t seem to have too many deliveries left at this stage of his career.

We know the numbers are awful this year, as he’s turned from a reliable All-Star to a poor man’s James Loney. The years of being regularly slotted into the #4 spot in the lineup are gone. The days of platoons, pinch hitting and the occasional DH appearance are here. We know this, the Dodgers know this, and Adrian himself even knows this.

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So after acknowledging that depressing truth, one might be wondering “exactly how does Adrian fit into this postseason equation?” Quite seamlessly actually. Over his Dodger tenure, Gonzalez has proven to be one of the most reliable performers in recent Dodger history. He has tons of postseason experience. He’s still an integral cog in the Dodgers’ chemistry machine. And I’m willing to bet that he can still hit righties. He does have a career .900 OPS against them.

Two of the many great things about this Dodger club is their depth and versatility. If versatility and depth were quantifiable statistics, the Dodgers would probably be leading the league in those categories as well. Well heck, maybe they do if you count roster moves and their notorious DL dancing act.

The point is, their maneuverability allows Gonzalez to be a steady contributor in the postseason if he proves productive. Against right-handed pitching, Gonzalez can start at first with Bellinger sliding into left field and Taylor moving to second. Against lefties, Gonzo should sit as Bellinger goes back to first, Taylor to left field, and Forsythe holding down second.

Gonzalez’s return will diminish Utley’s role, but it doesn’t keep Bellinger and Taylor from receiving the at-bats that they deserve. His glove will still prove steady at first. In a big moment in the postseason against a right-handed pitcher, I’d certainly rather see Gonzalez hitting as opposed to Chase or Forsythe.

The days of 20 plus homers and 100 RBI are long gone. But even with physical limitations, Adrian Gonzalez is such a smart hitter. A National League team could do a whole lot worse for a DH in the World Series.

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The biggest hits of Adrian’s career have yet to be seen. Whether it’s a bloop single, or maybe he snakes one through the infield, Gonzalez is going to find ways this postseason to help this club reach the World Series. Oh, and by the way, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers are going to the World Series and probably winning it. Magic said so.