One thing that the Los Angeles Dodgers could count on going into 2016 was middle-of-the-order production from first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. In his first three full seasons with the team, Gonzalez played at least 156 games each year, batting at least .275 with at least 22 home runs and 90 RBIs.
The 34-year-old had also won one of his four Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award in his time with the Dodgers. Aside from his power numbers being down a bit, Gonzalez had another solid campaign for Los Angeles.
He batted .285/.349/.435 with 18 home runs and 90 RBIs in 156 games. Gonzalez got off to a good start, as he hit .286/.371/.429 during April.
He saw a drop in production in June but broke out in July and carried that into August. During the two months, he hit a combined .323/.373/.545 with 14 doubles, 10 home runs and 40 RBIs over 52 games (50 starts).
But Gonzalez then slumped during September, which carried into the postseason. In 11 postseason games Gonzalez went 8-for-41 (.195 batting average) with two home runs and six RBIs.
Some of Gonzalez’s struggles this season were attributed to a bulging disc in his neck and back issues. The 13-year veteran received an epidural in late-May to treat his back pain, and spoke of adjusting mechanics at the plate on multiple instances during the season.
During his hot month of August, Gonzalez led the Dodgers in an 18-9 rout of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. He clubbed three home runs and finished with a career-high eight RBIs.
SportsNet LA microphones caught Gonzalez shouting, “I love this ballpark!” as he walked into the dugout after hitting his third homer of the game.
Although he did not find success in the postseason, Gonzalez did hit a pair of significant home runs.
His first one came in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, a must-win game for the Dodgers against the Washington Nationals. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Gonzalez unloaded on a fastball from Nationals starter Joe Ross for a two-run home run.
Then, in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, Gonzalez hit a solo home run off of Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks that ended up being the only run of the game as the Dodgers won, 1-0.
Gonzalez has two years remaining on his contract, so he will once again be penciled in as the team’s starting first baseman next season.
The Dodgers top prospect, Cody Bellinger, is nearly Major League ready, so it is possible that if the soon-to-be-35-year-old Gonzalez gets injured or struggles in 2017, that a transition to Bellinger begins.