LOS ANGELES -- Lost in the Clayton Kershaw euphoria and in the rare bounty of run support was a milestone achieved by Adrian Gonzalez on Friday night. Gonzalez crushed a home run to right field in the third inning to give him 100 RBI for a fourth consecutive season.
Gonzalez has 100 or more runs batted in six times in the last seven seasons, and in the only season during that span that he didn't reach 100 (2009), he drove in 99 runs. Miguel Cabrera (10 straight seasons) and Prince Fielder are the only other hitters in baseball with at least six years of 100 RBI in the last seven seasons.
I know what you are thinking. What year is this, 1986? Why am I stuck on team-dependent counting stats?
I can't help it. I grew up knowing triple crown stats. I still enjoy them. Simply mentioning RBI shouldn't be the subject of scorn, especially when there is no value judgment attached.
But there is value in what Gonzalez has accomplished, especially with Gonzalez hitting .323/.374/.532 with runners in scoring position this season. He has always hit well with runners in scoring position, .328/.430/.556 in his career, and has talked numerous times about changing his approach in those situations.
The point is that Gonzalez has had a solid season. He is hitting .296/.344/.466, good enough for a 127 OPS+ in a run-scoring environment closely resembling 1992. He has 22 home runs and 32 doubles, but more importantly he has been the rock for the Dodgers in an injury-plagued year for the team.
The Dodgers have never in their franchise history had one player get 100 RBI with nobody else driving in 60 runs. Second on the team to Gonzalez in RBI this season is Hanley Ramirez, who has driven in 57 in 85 games.
Perhaps the most impressive number for Gonzalez is his 155 games played. For Gonzalez this is ordinary, even restful, as he will finish with his fewest games played in a season since 2006. He has averaged 159 games a season for eight years.
In 2013, he is the only Dodger with more than 142 games played.
Since the 162-game schedule began in the National League in 1962, this is the eighth season the Dodgers have had just one player reach 150 games. The have had five more seasons with no players with 150 games played, including 2012 but not including the strike-shortened seasons of 1972, 1981, 1994 or 1995.
The average record of those previous 12 teams is 80-82, with only the 1985 and 2006 teams making the playoffs.
And now 2013, too. Thanks to a large contribution from the steady Gonzalez.