Adrian Gonzalez had an admirable 2013 season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, playing 157 games and recording 171 hits, 32 doubles, 22 home runs ,100 RBIs and a stat line of .293/.342/.461.
As if this offensive display was not enough, Gonzalez also performed exceptionally consistent while in the field, even if the sabermetricians only gave him a defensive WAR of 0.1. To say that this was an All-Star type of season was an understatement, but for a guy that is in the midst of a seven-year, $154 million contract, it still left the fan longing for a little more production.
Well, this extra bit of jump has seemingly arrived with October baseball, as Gonzalez has gone from an above-average first baseman in the regular season to arguably the best player in all of the postseason.
Offensively, Gonzalez produced heavily over nine games with 12 hits, seven runs, two doubles, three home runs, seven RBIs, and a .343/.395/.657 triple-slash to show. This production has had an extreme effect on the Dodgers still being playing in the postseason, as almost every other player on the team’s roster has struggled to swing the bat throughout October.
This impact was no more important than when the Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 on Wednesday afternoon, in turn shortening their deficit in the NLCS to 3-2.
In this victory, Gonzalez singled in the second inning to start a Dodgers rally that would result in two runs, hit a two-run home run in the third inning to give the team a lead after Zack Greinke allowed two runs, and then hit another solo shot in the eighth inning to effectively cement the win. Without this spark, it is truly hard to find a logical conclusion as to how a Dodgers lineup that scored seven runs in the first four games of the season would have found another outlet of offense.
Possibly just as important as this epic performance at the plate throughout the playoffs has been the fact that Gonzalez has been flawless at first base, saving the Dodgers’ infielders from errors on multiple occasions. Specifically picking out a ball out of the dirt in the first inning of the Game 5 as the Dodgers turned two to get out of a bases-loaded jam without letting in a run.
This was not the only time that Gonzalez saved the Dodgers infielders from committing errors that could have flipped the game on its head, and it will surely not be the last.
With Hanley Ramirez looking like a shell of himself as a result of a broken rib and the rest of the Dodgers team looking uninspired throughout much of the NLCS, the onus was put on Gonzalez again provide the team with a lift on Wednesday. He did this and much more, in turn continuing a level of playoff production that would make any first baseman proud.
In fact, this level will make every first baseman in the game envy Gonzalez, as none can boast the mix of defensive ability, offensive prowess and ability to step up in the clutch that he has this October. It has put to rest any doubts as to whether or not Gonzalez could truly justify his $154 million contract, and even made some wonder if he actually could be underpaid.