Gonzalez, who batted .221 in 72 games in 2013, was replaced by Villar halfway through the year and served mainly as a bench player for the remainder of the season. Villar dazzled with his speed and exciting style of play and has been considered a lock to start at shortstop for the Astros in 2014.
However, Gonzalez is not going down without a fight. This spring, he has been impressive at the plate – leading the team in hits with 13. Not only is he hitting, he is putting balls in the gap. Gonzalez has a team-high six doubles, three more than any other Astros hitter.
Sample size is obviously an issue here, with just 28 at-bats to judge Gonzalez on, but his performance is certainly not going unnoticed by the front office.
Villar is not a lock at short, despite what some fans seem to think. In 2013, he batted just 23 points higher than Gonzalez (.243) and was worth a lower WAR (0.0) than Gonzalez (0.5) according to Baseball-Reference.
Whether or not Gonzalez is starting for Houston on Opening Day remains to be seen, but his spring performance will give him a better opportunity to get regular playing time for the Astros in the 2014 season.