With the San Diego Padres rebuilding and potentially strapped for cash, the rumor engine has been operating at full roar over the possibility of an Adrian Gonzalez trade for the past six months. The Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners have been most frequently linked as suitors, but given Gonzalez’s style of hitting and the respective parks those two teams play in, he should be rooting hard to be traded to Boston.
Gonzalez, like most batters, pulls more balls than he pushes the other way. A telling split is Gonzalez’s batted-ball-type ratios. He has a ground ball percentage of 61 percent when he pulls the ball, but when he goes the other way, it is a fly ball 64 percent of the time. Those are significant differences.
Gonzalez is a fantastic hitter to all fields, but he’s especially good when hitting to left field -- he had more opposite-field home runs (21, more than anyone else in baseball) than homers to center and right field combined (19) in 2009. According to work published by Greg Rebarczyk in 2007, PETCO Park is about 4 percent harder than average to hit home runs toward left and left-center fields, but Seattle’s Safeco Field is even harder to get the ball out to that area -- 10 percent tougher than average.
Given that Fenway Park is roughly neutral when it comes to home runs toward left field, Gonzalez would fare much better in Beantown, where he could use his penchant for opposite-field fly balls to rain extra-base hits off the Green Monster, and home runs over it, escaping the potential death trap of Seattle’s left-center gap. Gonzalez’s agent would do well to try and kill any chance his client ends up in the rainy Northwest.
Jeremy Lundblad of ESPN Stats & Info has more on this topic here, including data from the Inside Edge scouting service.
Matthew Carruth is an author of FanGraphs.