This just in: Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is not a Coors Field creation. I repeat, NOT a Coors Field creation.
This has been the stigma on CarGo the last several years. Sure, he's a talented baseball player, but if Coors Field wasn't his home then he would be an average hitter who can steal some bases and give you excellent defense. He flirted with a Triple Crown in 2010, but the detractors were everywhere. I'm looking at you Chipper Jones (I'm beginning to like Chipper less and less with his disparaging remarks about CarGo in 2010 and earlier this season when he blatantly dismissed Troy Tulowitzki in calling Andrelton Simmons the best SS in baseball).
Say what you want about Gonzalez's home/road splits, but those are a thing of the past, as Gonzalez is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball on the road compared to much less impressive home stats which, oh by the way, are still pretty darn good.
|Year||Home Avg.||Road Avg.||Home HR||Road HR||Home RBI||Road RBI|
It's time to give Gonzalez his due. Rockies fans know how special he is, but this could be the year that he really bursts onto the national stage and even wins an MVP. Gonzalez is second in the NL in home runs with 13, trailing only the Braves' Justin Upton. CarGo also ranks in the top 10 in WAR, batting average, on-base percentage and OPS, and leads the NL in slugging percentage.
He doesn't just hit. He's already swiped nine bags without being caught and is second in the league in outfield assists with three.
Even this year aside, one in which Gonzalez has produced better on the road, it is not uncommon for a hitter to perform better in his home ballpark. There is a comfort level and familiarity with one's home park that is a huge contributor to success. For instance, the aforementioned Jones hit .301 at home in 2010 compared to a meager .227 on the road the year he decided to call CarGo a product of Coors Field. Other elite hitters have experienced similar seasons. Ryan Braun in 2008 hit .305 at home compared to .266 on the road. Josh Hamilton in 2010 hit .390 at home compared to .327 on the road.
There are numerous examples of other elite-level players that have experienced fairly high home/road splits at one time or another in any given season. The point is this: those hitters are not simply referred to as creations of their home ballpark. Of course Coors can be more generous towards hitters, but it's not the hitter's haven that it used to be and there are plenty of other offensive ballparks in this league.
Whether or not you believe Gonzalez to be a creation of Coors Field, this year is certainly putting that assertion to rest. CarGo is having another MVP-type year and though it's early, it's about time he started being recognized as one.