A Look at Jay Gonzalez

06/18/2011 – Turks Tidbits

Now that the Turks are over a dozen games into their season, the players have compiled enough statistics that it’s clear that several players are off to incredible starts.

Today, let’s look at one of those players that may not get as much attention as he deserves – center fielder Jay Gonzalez, who often serves as the Turks’ leadoff batter.

There’s no question that Gonzalez possesses elite speed. He looks the part of a leadoff man – he’s a speedy left-handed batter who’s not afraid to play small-ball, bunting for hits and wreaking havoc on the basepaths. He’s stolen nine bases in thirteen games, batted .324, and scored eleven runs.

It’s easy to focus on those aspects of Gonzalez while watching him play, as his dazzling speed is the most striking on-field characteristic he displays. But there’s an even more important quality to Gonzalez that sets his game apart from most speed-oriented players – he walks. A lot.

Gonzalez leads the Turks with a whopping 15 walks – well over one per game. In fact, that total is more than twice as many as any other Turks player.

This is especially important for Gonzalez because he usually bats leadoff, which means he gets the most plate appearances on the team. Therefore, it’s crucial that he, more than any other batter, get on base (and thus avoid getting out, of course) as much as possible. And he’s done that more than anyone could ask, getting on base a whopping 52% of the time.

That, of course, feeds into Gonzalez’s speed game perfectly, as pitchers have to worry about the Turks’ speed demon on the bases seemingly two or three times each game.

If the 15 walks aren’t impressive enough on their own, they’re made even more impressive by the fact that pitchers usually come right after Gonzalez. And it certainly makes sense that they would, as they don’t want to put the leadoff man on base. Plus, Gonzalez only has one extra-base hit – a double – all season, so pitchers have no incentive to be “careful” with him. So Gonzalez is, in fact, the Turk least likely to see lots of pitches outside of the strike zone, but he finds ways to draw walks anyway, often fouling off a number of two-strike pitches.

It’s an extraordinarily mature approach to hitting, and one that shows that Gonzalez has a clear grasp of the importance of his spot in the batting order – something that even some professional leadoff hitters don’t show with the regularity one would expect.

All indications point to Gonzalez having a tremendous season the rest of the way. He’s sure fun to watch, and hopefully he’ll be getting on base and stealing bases at this clip all season long!