Scarlet Fever

A teenage girl's perspective on the Red Sox and everything else.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Catalyst

Alex Gonzalez was not signed by the Boston Red Sox to be a hitter. He did not make it into the major leagues because of his raw power. He does not own a Silver Slugger. Hitting was not an expectation when the Front Office signed Gonzalez. He was signed as a defensive specialist. His glove was what caught the eye of the Red Sox orginazation. A virtual human vaccuum cleaner, Gonzalez was born with the ability to field. That was what the front office wanted. A team that could field.
Yet the impact Gonzalez has had on the Red Sox is much more than solid fielding. He is the leader of an infield that leads the major leagues in fielding percentage. Alex Rodriguez alone has more errors than the entire Red Sox infield. Gonzalez's mindboggling double plays, dazzling backhanded grabs and spectacular putouts have saved the Red Sox critical runs, and their effects on pitchers' ERA's is immesurable. Gonzalez's glove gives pitchers the confidence to pitch with all they have and not have to strike out every single batter. They know that if they can get a hitter to hit a ground ball, the hitter is almost an automatic out. Pitchers with that confidence pitch a million times better than those with a shaky infield.
And in addition, Gonzalez, the defensive specialist, has been making some noise with his bat as well. As the season began, he was slumping, with his batting average dropping as low as .197 in May. In the short time since then, his bat has caught fire, allowing his average to climb to .284, including a 12-game hit streak. This is especially impressive for a #9 hitter. Opposing pitchers will be shaken when they realize there really is no hole in this lineup, with a #9 hitter who seems to be on base all the time as of late.
Gonzalez' hitting streak occured simultaneously with a personal 57-game errorless streak, and a team 17-game errorless streak. And during this period, the Red Sox went on a 12-game winning streak, sweeping four NL teams. Therefore, it can be concluded that Gonzalez is a major catalyst for this team. Though he is quiet off the field, his defense and, recently, offense, speak for themselves. When he was hitting well and fielding perfectly, the team won. When his hitting streak ended (however briefly), and he made an error, the team lost. This alone makes it clear that Gonzalez has a major impact on the team's success, both offensively and defensively.

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