Due to injuries this season, multiple players have been in and out of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup. A byproduct of that has been the Dodger offense struggling a bit and lacking consistent production throughout the lineup.
Adrian Gonzalez has managed to remain relatively healthy and his offensive production reflects it. Gonzalez leads the Dodgers with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs. When asked why he’s been a successful RBI hitter, Gonzalez had a straightforward answer, via the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett:
“It’s what I’m good at.”
Manager Don Mattingly offered more in explaining Gonzalez’s ability to drive in runs:
He’s not getting greedy,” Mattingly said. “That’s really what RBI guys do. You leave it for them, they take it. That’s what Adrian’s been doing.”
Gonzalez then expanded on his answer and credited his success to being able to provide what the team needs in various situations:
When I’m up with a runner in scoring position, I just try to simplify things and drive that guy in. I try to do what my team needs in any situation. If I’ve got no one on base, then I’m swinging a little bigger. I’m trying to drive the ball for a double or a home run so I don’t clog up the bases. If we just need someone to get on base, then I’ll look to work a walk or get a single. If that’s what we need.
Gonzalez went through a lull this season, which in some capacity was due to defensive shifts and a bit of bad luck for the first baseman. At the time, Gonzalez maintained he wasn’t concerned with his stats or drop in averages.
The 32 year old revealed a change in his approach may have also contributed to his slump:
I started to let it (pitches) get deeper and hit it the other way and that created a really bad funk,” Gonzalez said. “I axed that as soon as I tried it for awhile. But it took me awhile to get back to my normal swing.”
In 29 games ince the All-Star break, Gonzalez is hitting .352 with 23 RBIs and a .950 OPS. There was one stretch where Gonzalez collected a minimum of one RBI in five consecutive games.
The 11-year veteran is on pace to collect at least 100 RBIs in a season for the sixth time in the last seven years. Gonzalez’s ability to drive men in has been particularly important this season as Hanley Ramirez has struggled at the plate.
With the Dodgers season winding down and the team still battling injuries, Gonzalez’s ability to continue driving in runs will be key to their chances of maintaining their position in the National League West division.
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