Joe Posnanski, of SI.com, who is pretty much the best baseball writer in the world, came out with his list of the 32 best baseball players in 2011.
It's a fun, interesting read. Best part of it all? Four of those 32 players just happen to suit up for your Boston Red Sox.
They are: 26 - Carl Crawford, 22 - Jon Lester, 19 - Kevin Youkilis
The fourth? Well, you remember a few years ago how we were all bummed out about losing out on Mark Teixeira? And then this past offseason Theo brought in a new, younger first baseman with a little pop in his bat? Well that same Mark Teixeira ranked a solid 32 on Posnanski's list.
That new guy? Adrian Gonzalez? Yeah, he's #3, just below Roy Halladay and Albert Pujols.
Well, I’m guessing that you’re pretty surprised by this one.
Maybe this will help. Here are Adrian Gonzalez’s last five seasons, if you simply doubled his road numbers:
2010: .315/.402/.578, 42 doubles, 40 homers, 92 runs, 118 RBIs
2009: .306/.402/.643, 30 doubles, 56 homers, 118 runs, 126 RBIs
2008: .308/.368/.578, 40 doubles, 44 homers, 126 runs, 140 RBIs
2007: .295/.358/.570, 64 doubles, 40 homers, 114 runs, 128 RBIs
2006: .311/.378/.527, 44 doubles, 28 homers, 108 runs, 88 RBIs
Yes, that’s SIXTY-FOUR doubles in 2007. Yes, that’s FIFTY-SIX homers in 2009.
Adrian Gonzalez has been a great baseball player for five years. Some people know that. And, frankly, some people don’t. And the reason some people don’t is because he played half his games in the hitters coffin that is Petco Park. So people look at Gonzalez’s career numbers, see that he’s hitting .284/.368/.507 and they think, “Oh, that’s nice. He’s a nice player.”
But on the road, the man is hitting .303/.376/.568, which is a lot more than nice. And the last two years, on the road, he’s hitting .311/.402/.611, which is scary good.
And now he’s going to play half his games in Fenway Park, a great hitters’ park. It is not a great HOME RUN park — it’s actually a below-average home run park now — but it’s a great hitters’ park, the best in the league for doubles, and Adrian Gonzalez is a great hitter.
I think he will be the American League MVP.
Count me among those expecting the world from Gonzalez. Posnanski's ranking, and subsequent write-up, does nothing to temper those expectations. Today is the day we embark on the Adrian Gonzalez era. One I'm fairly certain we'll not only look back fondly on, but will be telling our grandchildren about.
Isn't that what baseball's all about?