Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I don't know how Adrian Gonzalez does it, but the San Diego Padres first baseman continues to pound home runs and knock in runs despite playing half his games in "pitching-friendly" Petco Park and with very little protection in the lineup.
Gonzalez, hit two more home runs last night, bringing his season total to nine in just 21 games. If he played 162 games as he did in 2008 and kept up this pace, he'd hit 69 homers. Of course, that's not going to happen, because eventually opposing pitchers are just going to stop throwing him strikes.
I'm surprised that hasn't already happened given that his protection in the lineup comes from Chase Headley (.253, 2 HR, 11 RBI) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (.256, 1 HR, 7 RBI).
But Gonzalez has learned to live with this lineup and even thrive with it. He has improved his home run total, RBI total and slugging percentage every year he has been in the major leagues.
Gonzalez has set the bar pretty high this year after bombing 36 home runs and knocking in 119 runs in 2008, but he is certainly off to a good start.
With so many good hitters at first base, Gonzalez gets overlooked on Draft Day. His Average Draft Position (ADP) was 33 and he was likely around the eighth first baseman off the board behind the likes of Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Lance Berkman, Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau or Kevin Youkilis.
But he might be as good as any of them this season.