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Carlos Gonzalez: the Coors Field wonder

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Offline  Carlos Gonzalez: the Coors Field wonder
#1

Posted: August 18, 2012, 1:05 AM Post
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Location: Flower Mound, TX
Everywhere I go where there's baseball discussion (except here, because we are all intelligent Brewers fans!), I keep hearing the same thing over and over:

"Carlos Gonzalez is one of the best hitters in the game, and he should be an MVP candidate in 2012!"

Really?

I got fed up facing this level of misinformation. The blissfully ignorant have rubbed me to a nub, so I decided to break out my stat geek, pull up some real numbers, and leave this Rockies fan whimpering in a corner. My contention that Gonzalez was a product of playing at Coors Field, and one of the most overrated players in the game, was about to be realized.

Image

When comparing his home numbers to those he accrues for every other park in the majors, the variance is just staggering. I've seen some skewed home numbers before. I've even seen some Coors Field skewed numbers before. But this takes the cake.

Cargo is a career .303 hitter. Not bad, right? Well, he's hitting at a .358 clip in the friendly thin air. .358! Those are numbers Ty Cobb would be proud of. Now, what about away from Coors? He's a career .258 hitter. That's right. He hits 100 full points higher at home than on the road. That's unbelievable. But wait, it gets better.

Slugging percentage? .655 at Coors. He's Babe Ruth at home. Everywhere else? .421. To put this in perspective, Norichika Aoki has a .406 slugging this season. So just a hair better than that. Couple his paltry slugging and batting average, and you get a 341 point difference in OPS (1.072 home, .731 road).

Look, too, at his home run frequency. At home, he hits one out about every 15 at bats. Over the course of a 600 at bat season, that's 40 round-trippers. Away from Coors? He'd struggle to hit 20 home runs. His frequency more than doubles to once every 32.63 at bats.

Carlos Gonzalez away from Coors Field is Popeye without his spinach. Without the absurd home field advantage, Gonzalez is a .258 hitter knocking out about 18 homers a season.

Hardly MVP-worthy.

"But but....Ryan Braun plays at Miller Park. That's a hitter's park, too. I bet Braun's numbers are inflated by hitting there half of his games!"

Really????!!!! I almost felt bad for the guy. I pulled up baseball-reference, snipped a screenshot in Photoshop, and revealed the truth to him. It was easy as Braun has only ever played home games at Miller Park.

Image

Braun is actually a better hitter on the road. .314 away from Miller Park, .307 at home.

Silence.

Now, his home rate is better at home...one home run every 15.43 AB's (so he's like Carlos Gonzales in that regard...without the stupid thin air). But away from home, his power numbers are very respectable: hitting a home run once every 19.06 at bats. That's still 31-32 home runs a season (he had 33 last season). This year, Brauny has 13 HR in 206 AB's (once every 15.85 AB's). At home, he's playing video games, with 19 HR in 219 AB's (once every 11.53 AB's).

I don't know if I was too hard on the guy. If ever you could hear a defeated tone in the way somebody typed words in a chat, though, this was it!


Last edited by The 'stache on August 22, 2012, 8:14 PM, edited 1 time in total.

There are three things America will be known for 2000 years from now when they study this civilization: the Constitution, jazz music and baseball. They're the three most beautifully designed things this culture has ever produced. Gerald Early


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Offline  Re: Carlos Gonzalez: the Coors Field wonder
#2

Posted: August 18, 2012, 11:50 PM Post
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Keep in mind that Gonzalez on the road will include playing a significant amount at three of the best pitchers' parks in the league (LAD, SDP, & SFG). Matt Holliday had significantly worse road stats when he was a Rockies player, but his game has translated well after leaving Coors. I like Gonzalez's swing, and I agree his numbers are inflated by Coors, but I think he'd be more of a mid- or upper-800s OPS guy with a more neutral home park.

"The key is identifying the moment. The worst is when you try to do it halfway: when you think you can compete and you also think you're trying to rebuild. Then you're stuck in no-man's-land. You either do it or you don't." -- Billy Beane


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Offline  Re: Carlos Gonzalez: the Coors Field wonder
#3

Posted: August 19, 2012, 10:17 PM Post
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My simulator in Miller Park has Braun a little better against lefties than Gonzalez against righties. Of course, as a lefty hitter, Gonzalez gets to have the platoon advantage much more often.


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Offline  Re:
#4

Posted: August 21, 2012, 6:37 PM Post
Posts: 2643
TooLiveBrew said:
Keep in mind that Gonzalez on the road will include playing a significant amount at three of the best pitchers' parks in the league (LAD, SDP, & SFG). Matt Holliday had significantly worse road stats when he was a Rockies player, but his game has translated well after leaving Coors. I like Gonzalez's swing, and I agree his numbers are inflated by Coors, but I think he'd be more of a mid- or upper-800s OPS guy with a more neutral home park.




Yeah, you certainly dominated him in that discussion if he didn't come back with this type of logical and reasoned response.

I do believe in Milwaukee for instance, he'd be a .290 hitter with 25-28 HR's and a great #2 hitter, and a very good CF'er. He's a helluva player. His numbers are just inflated. But as has already been stated, he plays most of his away games in Petco the biggest pitchers park, SF a miserable park for lefties, and Dodger stadium, another pitchers park.

I'm with Brew on this one..or close. I think he's an .850-.900 OPS guy elsewhere.


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Offline  Re: Carlos Gonzalez: the Coors Field wonder
#5

Posted: August 21, 2012, 6:39 PM Post
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By the way, just to add, I don't hear people banging down the door suggesting that he's a MVP candidate. In fact, I don't hear a whole lot about him.


I think unless McCutch has a Hart-Hardy-Weeks(any RH'er on the Brewers team other than Braun) circa 2008 type Sept, you're pretty much looking at your MVP with Beltran and a couple others(Braun) settling in pretty distantly behind him.


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Offline  Re: Re:
#6

Posted: August 22, 2012, 8:17 PM Post
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HiAndTight said:


Yeah, you certainly dominated him in that discussion if he didn't come back with this type of logical and reasoned response.

I do believe in Milwaukee for instance, he'd be a .290 hitter with 25-28 HR's and a great #2 hitter, and a very good CF'er. He's a helluva player. His numbers are just inflated. But as has already been stated, he plays most of his away games in Petco the biggest pitchers park, SF a miserable park for lefties, and Dodger stadium, another pitchers park.

I'm with Brew on this one..or close. I think he's an .850-.900 OPS guy elsewhere.


I can see his power numbers being diminished by playing in these road parks, but that's no explanation for why his batting average is so low. Pitcher's park or not, he's still only a .258 hitter.

There are three things America will be known for 2000 years from now when they study this civilization: the Constitution, jazz music and baseball. They're the three most beautifully designed things this culture has ever produced. Gerald Early


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Offline  Re: Carlos Gonzalez: the Coors Field wonder
#7

Posted: August 22, 2012, 9:52 PM Post
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AT&T Park (.605 OPS), PetCo Park (.657), & Dodger Stadium (.736) account for 329 of his career 1,093 road PAs (30%). You can't just shrug it off.

On the other hand, you also can't just shrug off the drastic gap in AVG for his career, H v. R. But like I said, Matt Holliday had a very extreme H/R OPS split as a Rockies player & has proven the idea (which I actually subscribed to at one point) that he was an overrated product of Coors Field to be simply false. I'm not sure how we can explain Gomez's stark career H/R splits, but I certainly don't think it's as simple as "Coors Field!" That would require believing a guy with a true OPS talent of ~ .740 would magically be transformed into a 1.000+ OPS hitter by one ballpark. While it's most definitely a tiny sample, Carlos Gomez's career OPS at Coors is .544 (& .842 at Dodger Stadium!).

Check out Holliday's career, season by season, & ask yourself if it's reasonable that he was really a low-.800s OPS true talent all along & Coors Field was simply masking that. There's zero doubt that Coors Field helps hitters -- and especially with regards to singles. But I'm not convinced that H/R splits alone prove that a player is simply a product of the park.

After looking at numerous longtime COL and/or AL West players, the 'normal' gap in OPS btw. an aggregate of 'other' parks v. Coors Field looks to be somewhere around .200 OPS points (disclaimer: that is a very rough estimate). So unless Gonzalez has figured out how to be .100 OPS points better at home, or .100 worse on the road, I think the best thing to say is that 1,000 PAs isn't exactly a large sample when talking about career numbers. Keep in mind he's played precisely one season (2010) so far that would qualify as a 'full' season over his career, as he's just 26. Two fulltime seasons would tack on roughly 600 road PAs to his career tally, & if he hit well on the road, the production would significantly improve his road OPS.

For an example of a very well-regarded hitter, Andre Ethier's OPS at Coors Field is ~.80 OPS points lower than at Dodger Stadium. It's not as simple as just H/R splits being infallible proof. Maybe Gonzalez is thrown off a little by being on the road, and it's not as much about any particular park... as in, perhaps he'd have a significantly lower OPS even if his home park were neutral. I realize that's not particularly likely, but it's certainly possible.

With all that said (congrats to anyone who's made it this far)... this is certainly an interesting case to examine. I love threads like this.

"The key is identifying the moment. The worst is when you try to do it halfway: when you think you can compete and you also think you're trying to rebuild. Then you're stuck in no-man's-land. You either do it or you don't." -- Billy Beane


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