Carlos Gonzalez Makes Me Go Soft

No one was higher on Carlos Gonzalez going into last year than me. Why? Because I owned him in our 20 team keeper league. He was coming off a 26 homer, 20 steal season. And because those stats came in just 127 games, it was pretty much on pace with his MVP-caliber 2010 season.

After a blistering May pushed CarGo into the top 5 rated players, I flipped him straight up for Joey Votto and, like I usually do with players I don't own in fantasy, completely forgot about him.

So what happened to Mr. Gonzalez the rest of the way? He finished 2012 with 89 runs, 22 homers, 85 RBI, 20 steals and a .303/.371/.510 triple slash line. While not necessarily a bad season overall, it probably didn't satisfy the owners who picked him at the end of the first round in last season's drafts.

With Carlos again going pretty high in early mock drafts (we'll get more into that later), I decided to take a closer look. Prepare yourself, because some of Gonzalez's splits are terrifying.
"Road trip? Ahhhh...shit."
We all know about the "Coors Effect" and how a lot of Rockies players have much better home splits than road splits. Guys like Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki are the kind of Rockies that you want on your team: they destroy the ball at home, and still put up respectable numbers on the road.

Helton (Career Home): .350/.447/.613
Helton (Career Away): .289/.389/.475

Tulowitzki (Career Home): .309/.380/.541
Tulowitzki (Career Away): .275/.347/.467

Sure, there's a drop between the home and away stats, but the away stats are pretty damn solid too. In other words, there's no need for you to platoon them with another player and bench them on the road. And surely, you wouldn't platoon the great Carlos Gonzalez, would you? Even on the road? Sounds like lunacy...but I used to do it. Unlike Helton and Tulo, who can hold their own away from Denver, Carlos Gonzalez turns into a big puddle of suck. Let's do a blind test:

Player A: .258/.313/.422
Player B: .259/.316/.423

Player A is Carlos Gonzalez's career away splits. Player B is 2012 Kyle Seager, who went undrafted last year and is going around pick 230 this season in early mocks. I'm not saying that Kyle Seager has no value. I'm just saying that taking someone in the very early part of the draft that hits like him half the time probably isn't the guy you want to count on to be a big part of your team.

And yeah, I get that a huge part of CarGo's value comes from the games he plays at home, and THAT is why you draft him. But we've already made a pretty good case for sitting him when he's away from Coors. Do you really want to spend an early draft pick on someone that you're only going to get maximum value out of half the time? Is the home version of Gonzalez THAT good?

No. Well yes...but no.

Yes, Carlos Gonzalez's home splits are off the charts good. But you don't need to waste an early draft pick to reap the benefits of that kind of home batting line. Let's take a look at another blind test:

Player A: .368/.437/.609, 58 runs, 13 homers, 58 RBI
Player B: .332/.431/.553, 51 runs, 10 homers, 39 RBI

Player A is Carlos Gonzalez at home last season. Player B was...Dexter Fowler at Coors in 2012. Dexter Fowler is going somewhere around the 13th round. See? That Coors value can be had WAY later in the draft if you're going the route of benching CarGo on the road.

Another red flag that I noticed when looking at his splits has to do with his home runs by month. 22 is a pretty respectable homer total for the year, but look when those homers were hit:

April: 4
May: 10
June: 3
July: 3
August: 1
September: 1

Which of those months is not like the other?

I don't really know what to make of this. Looking back at the rest of his career, CarGo doesn't have a history of falling off as terribly as he did in August and September, but it's still a little concerning that a guy, even playing half his games in an offensive paradise, only went deep 5 times in the second half, and only ONCE EACH in the last 2 months of the season. It could be just a fluke. Then again, if he didn't hit that insane power hot streak in May, things would have been real ugly last year.

Again, I'm not saying he sucks. I would take Carlos Gonzalez on my team any year if he fell to me in the right spot of the draft. According to Mock Draft Central, CarGo is going somewhere in the late first, early second round, which I completely disagree with. I wouldn't even think about touching him while guys like Josh Hamilton, Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton are still on the board. Just typing those names out gets the blood flowing in the nether regions. And getting CarGo in the 4th or 5th round would do the same.

But having to draft him where he's probably going to go? That makes me go completely soft.

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