Nov 14, 2011, 6:40 PM EDT
Incredibly enough, he’s not even a Scott Boras client.
In today’s mail, I received a 12-page full-color campaign brochure for Juan “Igor” Gonzalez’s Hall of Fame candidacy.
12 pages trumpeting Juan Gonzalez. Someone had a lot of time on their hands.
Gonzalez, of course, was a two-time MVP thanks to some very impressive RBI numbers (144 in 1996, 157 in 1998). He also led the AL in homers twice. He doesn’t have much else for black ink, though. He led the AL in slugging once in 1993. He never led the league in OPS. In fact, his highest finish there was fourth.
Gonzalez obviously comes up well short of Hall of Fame qualifications as is, though he’d rate as a very divisive candidate had he been able to stay healthy after age 31 and finished with 500-550 homers and 1,700 or so RBI. After that age-31 season with Cleveland, he had 277, 327, 127 and one at-bats the next four years, leaving him with 434 homers and 1,404 RBI.
Those totals rank 40th and 70th all-time, respectively. And those are the strong points of his case. His raw OPS of .904 ranks 61st all-time for players with 3,000 plate appearances, but that’s partly a product of his era and the ballparks he played in. Switching over to OPS+ drops him all of the way to 138th all-time.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being the 138th greatest hitter of all-time. Gonzalez was never a bad hitter at any point in his career. Even in his one off year in his prime, he hit .275/.330/.472. During those final four seasons with his body betraying him at every opportunity, he hit .286/.327/.503.
Gonzalez also hit .290/.333/.742 with eight homers in 15 postseason games (his teams lost all four of those series anyway).
Still, Gonzalez is no Hall of Famer, and it’s doubtful he’ll survive on the ballot another year after barely eclipsing the five-percent cutoff in his 2011 debut (he finished at 5.2 percent). A 12-page pamphlet isn’t going to change that.
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