The Los Angeles Dodgers lost plenty of power during the offseason with Hanley Ramirez bolting for Boston and Matt Kemp getting traded to San Diego. Naturally, it led to the presumption Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig would need to shoulder the offensive load from the middle of the lineup.
While Puig has gotten out of the gate slowly over the first three games of the 2015 season, Gonzalez is a hitter unmatched. The Dodgers’ first baseman became the first player in MLB history with five home runs in his team’s first five games — in large part to the three he hit off Padres flamethrower Andrew Casher Wednesday night.
Gonzalez refuted the notion he’s a home run hitter immediately after the game and expanded on his approach at the plate, while also crediting Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire in an interview with Petros Papadakis and Matt “Money” Smith on AM 570 LA Sports:
I’m a guy that studies maybe too much video for my own good. I’m a guy that’s always in the video room and I’m always trying to analyze the pitchers. Figure out how they’re going to pitch me with nobody on base, people on first base, people in scoring position, late in game, early in the game and different tendencies. He’s taught me to look at all that, but stick to my strengths. Over the last couple of years I’ve been able to hit the fastball middle-in really good. So whenever there is a pitcher that does tend to make mistakes or like his fastball, for the most part I’m just looking to hit fastballs middle-in and I think that definitely has a lot of influence from Mark.”
As for the difficulty in needing to guess on what kind of pitch is coming, Gonzalez largely downplayed the factor speed of a fastball plays:
I mean really once you’ve been doing this a long time, the velocity is just a number. I know people like to look at the number at the end of the fastball and say, ‘oh my God, that was 100 miles an hour or so.’ Most pitchers now throw in the mid-90s, so really it’s a timing issue. If he throws harder, you just get it ready earlier. You get it ready a little bit earlier, you get ready to hit a fastball that’s harder. Usually if they throw harder, their offspeed stuff is harder. Where pitchers will really be able to have more success is when their offspeed stuff and fastball have a bigger differential — at that point I guess you are guessing because you can’t cover 15 mile an hour differences in one swing, but if they throw them within eight miles, the same swing should be able to cover them.”
Gonzalez’s slash line of .769/.769/2.077 leads the Majors and so do his five home runs, seven RBIs, 10 hits and seven runs scored. With the Dodgers beginning a three-game series at Chase Field Friday, Gonzalez looks to add to his blistering start at a stadium he’s enjoyed success at.
Last season, Gonzalez hit a home run in three straight games against the Diamondbacks in Arizona as part of a four-game home run streak.
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