Monday, November 9, 2015

Exit Music (For A Player): Marwin Gonzalez

Hey, the wounds are still fresh, so it seems like a fine time to do some evaluating. This is the Exit Music (For A Player) series. Check out other Exit Music (For A Player) posts here

Acquired: Selected by the Boston Red Sox from the Cubs in the 2011 Rule 5 draft, immediately traded to Houston for Marco Duarte.

Age: 26. He will be 27 in March 2016.

Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible, won't be a free agent until 2019.

Career: 

Marwin started off his professional career by signing as an amateur free agent with the Cubs before the 2006 season started, and had middling success in the minors. He played in 42 games in 2006 (.629 OPS between the DSL and Arizona League), 17 games in 2007, 98 games in 2008. It wasn't until 2009 that Marwin made it to High-A, where he hit .241/.287/.309. He did play 86 games for Double-A Tennessee, posting a .625 OPS. In 2011, Marwin started out at Double-A again, this time hitting .301/.259/.421 in his Age 22 season, almost 2.5 years younger than his competition. In 60 games at Triple-A Iowa, he hit .274/.326/.376. His versatility and age kept him on the field. Marwin played both middle infield spots and some 3B, as well.

On the last day of the 2011 Winter Meetings the Red Sox selected Marwin in the Rule 5 Draft and immediately traded him to the Astros for Marco Duarte. As a result, Marwin made the Opening Day roster in 2012. And so on a 100-loss team, Marwin hit .234/.280/.327. His -0.4 fWAR was better than Chris Snyder (-0.5), Jordan Schafer (-0.7), and team-worst J.D. Martinez who clocked a -1.0. Still, good enough, right? He played 47 games at Short, 14 at Third, and six at Second.

2013 opened with the Astros in the American League. Times were good that first game when the Astros won and times were not so good that second game when Yu Darvish had a perfect game going with two outs in the 9th and Marwin stepped in. He laced a single up the middle and the Rangers tears were salty and plentiful. That was a high point of Marwin's 2013 season - other than the back-to-back games he hit a homer in Seattle a few days later. He finished the season hitting .221/.252/.319. His -0.4 fWAR was 2nd-worst on a 111-loss team, better than J.D. Martinez's -1.2 fWAR. But, Team Control!

2014 was something of a breakout year, as far as breakout years for Rule 5 picks who immediately get traded go. In a career-high 103 games, Marwin hit a career-high six homers, a career-high 23 RBI, on a career high 79 hits and a career-high 15 doubles. He hit .277/.327/.400 and, with a 0.8 fWAR he brought himself back to a respectable career 0.0 fWAR. Perfectly replacement-level at league minimum!

2015:

Marwin started off the 2015 season slow. On June 13 his season bottomed out as he went 0x4, hitting .212/.224/.326. Over the next 79 games (234 Plate Appearances), however, Marwin was Feared. He hit .321/.371/.514 with 10 homers, 44K:14BB. It was on a .367 BABIP, but whatever. I know how we all feel about batting average, but this is the 12th-highest batting average in all of baseball for the same time period. Marwin had fewer plate appearances than anybody else on the list, but Marwin had a role, and he played it very, very well. His 1.5 fWAR was 6th on the team, his 108 wRC+ was 5th on the team.

The most bizarre thing I can find about Marwin is his homers. It isn't that he doesn't hit that many, but that he only hits one type of home run. Marwin has hit 24 career home runs. He has hit 12 homers at Minute Maid, and 12 on the road. He has hit homers off of 24 different pitchers. He has never hit more than one home run in a game. And he has hit 24 solo home runs. He has never hit a home run with a man on base. In 468 career plate appearances with runners on base, he is hitting .236/.281/.290 with 21 extra-base hits. When it's just him and the pitcher (618 career plate appearances) and he doesn't have to worry about whatever Astro is in 90-foot increments in front of him, he's hitting .273/.312/.447 with 59 extra-base hits. It's bizarre and I don't know how to explain it.

Challengers:

Marwin will be a 27-year old utility player who has improved in every season in which he has played in the Majors. He's arbitration-eligible for the first time this season and won't be a free agent until 2019. I don't see any of the premier minor-leaguers coming up to take his spot as Super Utility man in 2016, especially with Marwin projected (by MLBTR) to make $1.9m in his first year of arbitration. Now it could be that the Astros take advantage of team control, good recent results, and trade him, but I'm okay with Marwin having a spot on the team.

Franchise Marks:

*1st on the team in breaking up Yu Darvish perfect games.
*Possibly the most-hated Astro for Rangers fans.

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