When people talk about the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros, they key in on the popular names. The youthful exuberance of José Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. The veteran acquisitions that put them over the top: Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltrán, Brian McCann, and Justin Verlander.
But many overlook the contributions of one man who made their championship run possible. A dynamic, “super-utility” player who’s comfortable playing any position and hitting anywhere in the lineup. A player who’s been with the team since 2012 — Marwin González.
Signed by the Cubs as an international free agent at the age of 16, Marwin González was known for his versatility. Acquired by the Astros in 2011, he was nothing but a run-of-the-mill, part-time utility player. He could fill any role the manager needed him to play, but people didn’t expected much from his bat.
That is, until 2017. Last season, González made several adjustments, implementing a more patient approach, lowering his hands, and closing off his stance. These minor tweaks made a world of difference for him, leading to a career year in every category.
The newly refined Marwin González posted a .303 average with a .377 on-base percentage. He boosted his slugging percentage to .530, over 100 points higher than the previous season. Along the way, he mashed 34 doubles and 23 homers, driving in 90 runs and scoring 67.
All the while, he made starts at shortstop, first base, second base, third base, and left field. González was unfazed, transitioning seamlessly from position to position, wherever he was needed. And the Astros leaned on him throughout the entire season.
When Carlos Correa missed a month and a half with a torn ligament in his thumb, the team relied on González to fill in at shortstop. And, when he wasn’t plugging holes for injured players, he was constantly shifting around the diamond.
What González was able to do was borderline ridiculous. Take a look at one instance, a 7-game span in May. On Monday, May 22nd, he started in left field, then moved to first base late in the game.
Then, in the next consecutive games he started at shortstop for two games, then first base, left field, third base, and then back to first base on Monday the 29th.
If you’ve ever played baseball, you know the importance of consistency and routine. When you get out of your routine, things start to get out of whack. This is what makes Marwin González such an incredible player.
Can you imagine getting to the field every day, not knowing what position you’re playing? Or even what glove you’ll be using? He has to keep 3 or 4 different gloves in his locker, at least. And, through that time, maintaining a .300 batting average with power? Unbelievable.
Marwin González is an overlooked star in today’s game. Hopefully this season he will get the recognition and appreciation that he deserves.