Player Focus: Adrian Gonzalez
Padres' first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was on the cusp of becoming a hobby star last season, as he hit a career-high 30 HR & 100 RBI. What held him back? The two main things, in my opinion, were his strikeouts (1 SO for every 4.6 AB) and his so-so batting average (.282 - which isn't that bad, so it probably didn't have too much of an impact). His rookie-year 00 Bowman Auto peaked at a monthly average of $54 last June, and then held steady in the $40-45 TAC range throughout the rest of the '07 season. This April, it started the '08 season in the high $30's, and then jumped to the mid-high $40's in May. So far in June, it's averaging right around $50.
Gonzalez is again averaging around 1 SO per 4.6 AB in '08 (other batting leaders have much higher AB/SO - Chase Utley is at 6.6), and is batting a slightly-better .294. The big improvement has been in his HR & RBI (he's projected to reach 44 HR & 141 RBI if he plays all 162 games). At 26-years-of-age, Gonzalez is still fairly young and could have a very decent 300-350 HR career. If he can raise up his BA to over .300 and actually start hitting 40+ HR/season (and strikeout less), I would expect his cards to elevate above their previous highs.