Consistent: of the same quality; continuing to happen or develop in the same way.
Most all MLB teams have at least one position player that fits the definition of “consistent.” Those guys who year after year, day after day, put up numbers that never fluctuate too much, and who continuously perform at a certain level.
For the Dodgers, that player is Adrian Gonzalez.
The Dodgers acquired Gonzalez (or A-Gon as many fans call him) in 2012, after a blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox that also brought them Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto. The Dodgers sent James Loney, and a couple of pitching prospects back to Boston, but it was mainly a salary dump by the Red Sox. They were trying to cut payroll, and the Dodgers were desperate to make some moves in order to try and reach the post-season. It was definitely a bold move by then General Manger, Ned Colletti.
Looking back on the trade almost four years later, it’s definitely feasible to make the argument both for and against the move now. In 2 1/2 years, the Dodgers got a total of 35 starts out of Josh Beckett, who aside from a notable no-hitter in 2014, pitched pretty mediocre during his tenure. Carl Crawford has battled injuries off and on since he arrived in L.A, and has never been a consistent presence in the Dodgers’ lineup. And as mentioned, the Dodgers took on some additional salary. A lot of salary. About a quarter of a billion dollars in salary… and yeah, that’s billion with a ‘B’.
Even with deep pockets, that kind of money can significantly impact a team’s flexibility with their roster, and hinder their ability to make other moves. So, looking at the trade from that specific lens, you might think it wasn’t a great idea. However, if the Dodgers could somehow snag a Delorean, and go back in time, should they make the same move? Many would say yeah, probably.
The reason some would say that is simple… it’s because of Gonzalez. Since coming to the Dodgers, he’s been a model of consistency. Obviously, there’s been no championship to show for it so far, but the Dodgers have won the Division in each of Gonzalez’s three full years with the club. And who knows if they would have had that same success without him.
There may be nothing flashy about Gonzalez’s game, but he’s as steady as you can get. You can pretty much pencil him in for 25-30 HRs a year, about 100 RBIs, around a .275-.300 avg, all while playing a great 1st base.
Here are his stats for the last four seasons:
- 2012: .299/.344/.463, 18 HR, 108 RBI (between BOS & L.A)
- 2013: .293/.342/.461, 22 HR, 100 RBI
- 2014: .276/.335/.482, 27 HR, 116 RBI, Gold Glove winner
- 2015: .275/.350/.480, 28 HR, 90 RBI
Over that span, the Dodgers haven’t had a better hitter. Other players may have had a better particular year, or maybe even carried the team offensively for a while. But even though guys like Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, and Yasiel Puig have had their moments for the Dodgers, no one was as consistent as Gonzalez.
No one had his durability either, as A-Gon has averaged 159 games played over the last 10 seasons. Let me say that part again; over the last 10 years, Adrian Gonzalez has an average of 3 games missed per year. Moreover, all but two of those years were played in the National League, where he couldn’t simply DH for a game. Most players have a hard time playing 159 games in one year, let alone average that amount over a decade.
And that’s why since coming to the Dodgers back in 2012, Gonzalez’s name is always near the top of the list when considering who the most valuable player on the team is every year.
A veteran presence in the clubhouse, Gonzalez has also emerged as a team leader. He’s shown the ability to lead by example, and be someone who the younger players can emulate. And with such a young and diverse group of guys, those kinds of intangibles can be just as invaluable as skills on the field.
Gonzalez will be turning 34 this May, and it may only be a matter of time before we can expect a decline in his numbers. It happens to every player at some point. However, as long as he continues to stay healthy (and perhaps with some additional days off to keep him fresh) it’s probably a good bet to assume Gonzalez will, yet again, produce as he’s always done. It’s just what he does. Throw him down at 1st base, write his name somewhere in the middle of the batting order, and don’t worry about it anymore.