Adrian Gonzalez Will Maintain Consistency, Lead Baseball in RBIs Rest of Season, According to Projections

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Adrian Gonzalez Will Maintain Consistency, Lead Baseball in RBIs Rest of Season, According to Projections By the end of every September, baseball fans usually can look at the players who had the hottest streaks and the coldest slumps during the course of the season and channel former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green:

"They are who we thought they were."

A nice .280-.300 hitter like Andre Ethier can mount a 30-game hitting streak and bat around .390 for about a month, but after 162 games, he'll typically turn back into that nice .280-.300 hitter we knew before. The great Albert Pujols can get off to a rough start by his standards, and then we look up one autumn day and he's got almost 40 home runs.

This doesn't always happen within one season. Sometimes one of the best players in the game, like Matt Kemp, will scuffle through an entire 162 games before returning to form the next season as if nothing bad happened. (This is likely the reason the Red Sox aren't panicking over Carl Crawford's inconsistency this year.)

Then there are players for whom none of this is a concern. Nobody has been exactly "who we thought they were" this season like Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Padres fans warned us we'd get spoiled by his consistency, and we have; he's been so good, a 1-for-15 stretch after the All-Star break caused momentary concern despite Gonzalez's average never falling below .337.

More good news is on the way. The ZiPS projection, which has provided eerily accurate in-season projections of how the remainder of the last couple of seasons would play out, predicts Gonzalez will drive in more runs than any player in the American League the rest of the way and will be among the major league leaders in many offensive categories between now and Sept. 28.

Gonzalez will post 35 RBIs to bring his season total to a majors-leading 127, according to the projections by Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory. Only the Phillies' Ryan Howard is projected to plate as many baserunners the rest of the way.

See for yourself how ZiPS works by clicking here.

In addition to his run production, Gonzalez will bat .326 in the final two months of the season, according to ZiPS, blowing away second-place Joe Mauer's .308 mark through the end of 2011. He won't touch Jose Bautista's home run total or slugging average, but he'll come within 10 points, at .562 to Bautista's .571, as the regular season winds down.

Take a look at that list again. What sets Gonzalez apart from almost every other name on the list is that he's not a player destined to regress, like Bautista, or a superstar bound to surge, like Pujols. Gonzalez has been steadily in step with his projection throughout the year; if anything, he's consistently been ahead of schedule in every category but homers.

Gonzalez is the kind of player baseball nerds like Szymborski (and myself) love because what he gives you in reality tends to line up with what you expect on paper. Non-nerds like such players, too, since they don't have to endure long stretches of their best player swinging underwater.

Here's another projection that's not available with ZiPS: Red Sox fans will continue to like what they'll see from Gonzalez the rest of 2011.

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