Carlos Gonzalez and the Coors Field trope

Dustin Bradford

Lots of people assume that Carlos Gonzalez's success is merely an illusion because of Coors Field's status as a hitter's park. But his 2013 season might say otherwise.

Everyone knows Coors Field to be one of the hitters' havens in all of Major League Baseball. With its altitude and air quality, hitting home runs is easier for any batter -- even your choice of team's version of Duane Kuiper.

Over five seasons and 311 games played at Coors, Carlos Gonzalez has hit .339/.403/.630 with a .374 BABIP and 74 home runs. These numbers, obviously, are significantly higher than his current career numbers: .300/.357/.530, .350 BABIP, and 125 home runs. This, of course, has lead to the idea that Gonzalez is a product of the Coors Field environment.

2013 might start to dispel that notion, however. Looking at his home and away splits for that season, his batting lines are .273/.354/.576 and .332/.381/.606. Now, it's easy to assume that the better of the two lines was his home split. Of course, having said that for dramatic irony, it's clear that the latter line is his away split.

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
2013 Home 56 52 226 198 40 54 12 6 12 42 14 2 26 61 .273 .354 .576 .930 .331 94 153
2013 Away 54 48 210 193 32 64 11 0 14 28 7 1 15 57 .332 .381 .606 .987 .407 106 177
2012 Home 68 66 300 266 58 98 17 4 13 58 9 4 31 54 .368 .437 .609 1.046 .425 137 180
2012 Away 67 65 279 252 31 59 14 1 9 27 11 1 25 61 .234 .301 .405 .706 .272 60 99

It's not as though Gonzalez has taken a complete nosedive when it comes to hitting at Coors, but it's still significant enough to raise a few eyebrows.

Looking at a few advanced stats, however, shows that some things haven't changed, such as power.

Split BB% K% ISO wRC+ wOBA
2013 Home 11.5% 27.0% .303 124 .393
2013 Away 7.1% 27.1% .270 174 .424
2012 Home 10.3% 18.0% .241 153 .442
2012 Away 9.0% 21.9% .171 85 .299

Without a doubt, Gonzalez will always have the power numbers at Coors. In fact, the numbers show that he can possibly hit for more power. But then you have his Away ISO, which has jumped up by almost 100 points. According to ParkFactors.com, three NL West parks -- Petco Park, Dodger Stadium, and AT&T Park -- are in the bottom half of hitter-friendly parks, meaning they are more pitcher-friendly. FanGraphs also lists those same three parks as three of the most pitcher-friendly parks in 2013. If a good chunk of away games are played against the NL West, then Gonzalez would normally be at a disadvantage because of the Coors factor. But his 2013 splits show just the opposite, which cannot necessarily be explained by the data that's available.

What does this mean for the 2014 Rockies?

If the trend of being a superior hitter away as opposed to at home continues, then the Rockies should find a way to utilize this fact in the lineup and bat him differently in the order. This wouldn't solve all of the Rockies' woes, but it could create a few more wins for them.

Because it's only been one season of a Freaky Friday home/away split, it's not certain that this trend will continue throughout the 2014 season. Gonzalez is signed through 2017, but should the opposite-of-expectations splits continue, it could increase his trade value in the future because it shows other teams that he can hit away from Coors. That's if they ever get to the point where they need to move Gonzalez.

. . .

All statistics and information courtesy of FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Park Factors.com, and Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Jen Mac Ramos is a contributor for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow her on twitter at @_jenmac.

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