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Adrian's contributions extend beyond playing field

Offensive star studies pitchers, acts as resource for Dodgers teammates

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is his own kind of leader.

For one, Gonzalez leads by example. A major factor in the Dodgers' first postseason appearance in four years, Gonzalez anchored the lineup during the regular season and led the club with 22 home runs, 100 RBIs, 171 hits, 69 runs scored and 157 games played.

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"We probably wouldn't be at this point if it wasn't for Adrian," said outfielder Carl Crawford. "He's definitely been a big part of what we do here."

Gonzalez kept the Dodgers afloat during a slew of injuries to key players early in the year, then continued his production down the stretch to help win the National League West.

It didn't take long for Gonzalez to make an impact in October, either. He helped the Dodgers split the first two games of the NL Division Series against the Braves, belting a two-run homer in a 6-1 win in Game 1.

"He's been there from start to finish," said manager Don Mattingly.

Gonzalez had a great season individually, but he also leads by being a team player.

"I'm more of a control guy that's always involved in the game," he said. "I'm playing most of the games and I give it everything I have out there and my teammates know that. I only care about winning. Those are little things that I think people always look for in people they can turn to."

Gonzalez is not outspoken in public forums, but his peers see a different side of him.

"He's vocal when he needs to be," said Crawford, a teammate of Gonzalez's for three seasons. "He leads by example, too. He's definitely a guy you can go and talk to about baseball and get a precise answer."

Gonzalez provides plenty of precise answers when it comes to hitting. Catcher A.J. Ellis said he's never seen a player study opposing pitchers as much and as well as Gonzalez does.

"Adrian is definitely an amazing resource to have," Ellis said. "He watches so much of the game. He's got a great feel for how a guy is trying to get you out."

For all the hard work Gonzalez puts in on the field -- early batting practice before games and extra fielding prep -- he works just as diligently in the video room, studying pitchers' tendencies and forging game plans. That's why his teammates come to him for additional scouting reports.

"I take time and make sure to study every pitcher," Gonzalez said. "I don't just study the starter. I study every bullpen guy, every guy I might face each and every day. I know what that pitcher is trying to do against everybody. So they come to me because they know I've already done all the homework and I can just give them a quick little rundown of what this guy is going to try to do. And nine out of 10 times that's exactly what they do."

Crawford has seen Gonzalez's approach work in both the American League and the NL, so the four-time All-Star trusts Gonzalez's opinion when it comes to opposing pitchers.

"He's probably going to be a hitting coach one day," Crawford said. "That's how valuable he is to our team."

How else is Gonzalez valuable to the Dodgers?

"He's such a pro with the way he does everything," Mattingly said. "The way he's trying to help the other guys, the way he's preparing himself, the way he would take a loss or the way he handles wins -- all of that is such a solid approach for a big league player."

But despite all the praise from his teammates and coaches, Gonzalez isn't focused on being a leader.

"I'm just focused on being myself and being here for my teammates," he said.

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for

Los Angeles Dodgers, Adrian Gonzalez