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Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez is always there if you Need Him

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Jul 8, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Marwin Gonzalez (9) throws his bat after striking out against the Oakland Athletics with men in scoring position to end the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 8, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Marwin Gonzalez (9) throws his bat after striking out against the Oakland Athletics with men in scoring position to end the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Astros Utility Guy is Marwin Gonzalez who is Very Valuable to Winning!

The word utility indicates someone or something is intended to be utilized.

The grind of the major league baseball season is the most grueling of all the major sports, simply from the fact that they play so many more games. It’s very rare for even one player to play every single game of a major league baseball season. While every sport has it’s role players, baseball has them out of necessity more than the other major sports.

Marwin Gonzalez is the next, and perhaps the best, in a line of great utility players in the history of the Houston Astros. Gonzalez has followed very well in the footsteps of players like Denny Walling, Jose Vizcaino, Geoff Blum, and Bill Spiers, who were all significant players on playoff teams while playing in multiple roles.

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After signing with the Chicago Cubs organization as a free agent in 2005, at the age of 16, Gonzalez joined the Astros as a Rule 5 acquisition before the 2012 season. As a Rule 5 acquisition, he had to stay with the major league club the entire season. Even in that 2012 season, Gonzalez played a key role defensively and getting a spot start here and there. While nowhere near the player he is now, Gonzalez has seldom looked over-matched at the plate or flustered in the field.

There is no doubt Gonzalez had his sights on joining a rebuilding team with the idea that he would be “the man” at shortstop at some point. While he has had extended stretches where he has played shortstop regularly, as he began to be asked to fill in at second, then third, then first, then the outfield, one thing is clear . . . Marwin Gonzalez is simply a professional baseball player.

What do I mean by “professional baseball player”? By that, I mean that wherever you put him, he adds value to your team. Shortstop? Sure, he can pick it there at an above average level, making all the routine plays and can be flashy at times. Third base? Oh yeah, no problem. Second base? Sure, just put me on the other side of the bag and I can do that. First base? Ok, that one was new, but it’s just another corner with more stretching right? Left field? What?

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Oh, by the way, you may have discovered I have a pretty good arm that works in both the infield and the outfield. Perhaps the biggest surprise has seen Gonzalez get outfield assists while playing the left field wall as good as anyone, which has caused me to shout, “Marwin Gonzalez, is there anything you can’t do?”

At the plate, Marwin provides a great balance for this offense, which can be feast or famine. Marwin is a good bat-handler, and always gives you a good, professional at-bat. He seems to thrive in the clutch, with several gap doubles or clutch home runs to his credit.

The other aspect of “professional baseball player” is this . . . Marwin’s baseball IQ is outstanding. He never seems to make a mental mistake. He always throws to the right base, always takes the right chance on the base path.

While Marwin will never be a cover boy on a national magazine, a good team has to have someone like him to be successful. With him, you can give Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Luis Valbuena or Colby Rasmus a day off and not see a significant degree of a dropoff in the field. After never playing first base, he has become the best defensive first baseman on the club.

In my view, Gonzalez is an essential part of this team if they are going to be a championship contender, and I hope he’s here for a long time. Who does Marwin remind you of? Who are some other utility men who have been crucial to their team’s success?

***Stats by Baseball-Reference***

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