Adrián González needed Sunday's break out performance in the worst way.
González went 3-for-6 with a homer and five RBIs in the Mets ' 14-2 route of the Padres. It snapped a 1-for-17 drought at the plate. In 77 plate appearances this season, he has slashed .227/.312/.394.
González must have seen his baseball life flashing before his eyes. Jay Bruce had begun to take ground balls at first base, and Mickey Callaway publicly committed to giving Bruce a start there soon. With Brandon Nimmo sporting a .313/.488/.563 slash line, Callaway needs to find a way to get Nimmo's bat in the lineup, and shifting Bruce to first and the struggling González to the bench is the most feasible way to do that.
But for a multitude of reasons, chief among them his track record and his defense, González has been given every opportunity to sink or swim. And Sunday's events may have kept his head just above water.
Yoenis Céspedes will need a few days to heal his thumb after he jammed it stealing a base in the fourth inning. That means Nimmo can play left for the Mets' three-game set against the Braves. And with the Mets set to face two righties (Wednesday and Thursda), González will likely get another series to show Sunday's performance wasn't an aberration.
In fairness to A-Gon, it may not be. González's hard-hit rate is 46.3 percent, which is on pace to be the highest mark of his career (his career high is 38.8 percent in 2014, when he hit .276 with 27 homers and drove in 83 runs for the Dodgers). This year, off that insanely high hard-hit rate, his BABIP is a just paltry .235. González deserves much better than his slash line would indicate.
That's not to say every hard hit ball will fall in for a hit, but that high of a differential shows that he's been exceedingly unlucky. There are other underlying issues -- his chase rate is 36.6 percent, his highest since 2012, and his swing-and-miss rate is 11.9 percent, higher than last year's 11 percent. He's definitely not the hitter he once was, but the question is: How much is left in the tank? And how long can the Mets let the peripherals justify his place in the lineup?
It's not an easy question to answer, but at least for three days, González's big Sunday (coupled with Yo's injury) bought him some time. Let's see what he can do with it.
Photo credits: Kyusung Gong-AP Photo
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If you're hitting the final home game on Thursday at Citi Field, swing by the Marina Lot to see some friends, maybe meet some new ones, and responsibly wash down your sorrows before heading inside.