Saturday, September 4, 2010

Colorado Rockies win and Carlos Gonzalez makes his case

Carlos Gonzalez decided to show the country what the big deal is about. Behind Gonzalez, the Rockies defeated the Padres 6-2 to climb within 5-1/2 games of the NL West lead.

On a rare Rockies game on Fox Network, Gonzalez went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. The final blow came with two outs in the 8th inning and two men on base. Gonzalez ripped a laser to right field that only stayed in the park because it didn't have enough air underneath it.

Of the three hits, not one of them was cheap. Gonzalez ripped all three balls, the first double was on its way to skipping to the wall before right fielder Ryan Ludwick dove to keep it in front of him.

Gonzalez is a bona fide MVP candidate. If he can go on a power streak he may even have a shot at the triple crown. One of the knocks on the National League batting leader is his drastic splits. He hits far better at home than he does on the road. At Coors Field he is hitting .391 with 24 home runs and 61 RBIs. On the road, before Saturday's 3-for-4 performance, Gonzalez was hitting just .275 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs.

So is Carlos Gonzalez a product of Coors Field, or can he actually hit?

There is no way around it, Coors Field is a great place to hit. Before the humidor, average hitters were slugging 30 home runs per year. After the humidor, hitters still benefit from the spacious outfield, where hits fall in because three outfielders simply cannot cover that much ground.

So, yes, Coors Field is a great hitter's park. However, that doesn't mean that Gonzalez's numbers should be overlooked and written off.

It would be unreasonable to suggest that Gonzalez should hit just as well on the road as he does at home. Very few hitters are able to maintain their home numbers when they are on the road.

In addition to the standard drop off, one thing that is never considered is the fact that Gonzalez plays on a team that struggles away from home in general. Until Friday night, the most runs the Rockies had scored on the road since August 11th was two. Even the best hitters do not produce the same when no one is on base. Instead of seeing fastballs over the plate, he is seeing sliders off the plate.

When his team is losing, which is often the case with the Rockies, Gonzalez is not only seeing less pitches to hit, he is seeing the opposition's top relievers instead of team's mop up relievers or struggling pitchers. As a lefty, late in the game he also sees the opposition's lefty specialist late in the game.

Another factor that no one seems to mention with Gonzalez is where he plays the majority of his away games. With the off-balanced schedule, the Rockies are playing the majority of their road games in three of the best pitchers parks in baseball.

The Rockies play just one road series of the year in places like Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago, places that are notorious for hitting. With just one series per year in those parks, the Rockies play three series in cities like San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Those places are notorious pitchers parks. Especially in night games, the ball simply dies and outfielders can play more shallow in order to steal base hits.

The fact is, Gonzalez is in contention for the triple crown. That has not happened in the National League since the 1930's. If he is able to pull off all three legs of the triple crown, there is no reason that he should not be named National League MVP.

However, if there is a team who consistently gets overlooked for postseason awards, it is the Rockies. So don't expect Gonzalez to finish anywhere better than fifth in the voting, regardless of the whether the Rockies make the playoffs or not.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

2 comments:

  1. Now matter how a Rockies plays he would not even be in contention for the MVP award because of the Coast bias of the voters. The voters on both coast will vote on a coast player no how matter how well the players in the rest of the league play. Look how well Troy T. played in his rookie year, was he seriously even considered for rookie of the year. Same with Cargo this year, was he seriously considered for the all star game, even the manager with a chance to overcome the COAST bias blew it. I would not be the least be surprised that Cargo will even come in 5th, or even worse, even if the Rockies were to win the Series. Writters out there prove me wrong.

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  2. carlos is the best in the game all around

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