Signed to a one-year contract with a team option for 2011 by the Blue Jays this offseason, Alex Gonzalez did not attract much attention on the free agent market after being cut loose by the Red Sox. He netted just $2.75 million for this year and his option is worth only $2.5 million. There was good reason for that lack of fanfare. Alex Gonzalez hasn’t been a good hitter ever aside from 2007. He has survived by being a solid glove man at short stop but having turned 33, one had to wonder how much longer that would hold out.
It is too soon into the season to make any comments on Gonzalez’s fielding prowess, though the early returns look good, but he has apparently remembered that he once hit 23 home runs with the Marlins. Hitting just eight home runs all of last year over 429 trips to the plate, Gonzalez already has matched that total in just 109 plate appearances this season. His eighth home run coming off Ben Sheets yesterday, Gonzalez now boasts a .922 OPS completely supported by his .619 slugging percentage.
Gonzalez still lacks plate patience and is striking out a prodigious level which might undermine his offensive output down the line, but for now he is surviving and managing to be an asset despite a .303 on base percentage. At 1.3 WAR, Gonzalez is already nearly halfway to his previous career high.
Given his current plate discipline numbers, he seems a prime candidate to suffer through some horrendous slumps as the year progresses but with his good fielding at a premium position, Alex Gonzalez has already returned adequate value on the Toronto’s investment.
Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.