Juan González (baseball)

Juan González (baseball)

Infobox MLB player

width = 150px
name=Juan González
team=St. Louis Cardinals
position=Right fielder
birthdate=birth date and age|1969|10|20
city-state|Arecibo|Puerto Rico
debutdate=September 1
debutteam=Texas Rangers
stat1label=Batting average
stat2label=Home runs
stat3label=Runs batted in
*Texas Rangers (by|1989-by|1999)
*Detroit Tigers (by|2000)
*Cleveland Indians (by|2001)
*Texas Rangers (by|2002-by|2003)
*Kansas City Royals (by|2004)
*Cleveland Indians (by|2005)

Juan Alberto González Vázquez (born October 20, 1969 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico), nicknamed "Juan Gone" or "Igor" is a professional baseball right fielder. González bats and throws right-handed. He was one of the premier run producers during the 1990s, averaging 117 runs batted in per season between 1991 and 1999. He is currently on the Temporarily Inactive List with the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Personal life

González has been married four times. He was married to Puerto Rican volleyball player Elaine López, sister of fellow major leaguer Javy López, during the early 1990s. This marriage broke down when a local newspaper released a cover photo of singer Olga Tañón kissing González during a concert in San Juan. A scandal followed, with González divorcing Elaine López and marrying Tañón, who said she had no idea González was married to Lopez when she kissed him. González and Tañon had a daughter together, Gabriela González Tañón, in 1998. González and Tañon divorced less than two years later. His daughter later became one of only fifty people in the world (and the first Puerto Rican) ever to have been diagnosed with Sebastian syndrome, a mild blood clotting disorder.

González has a friendship with George W. Bush which began when González debuted with the Texas Rangers who at the time were owned by Bush. [cite book| title='Amistad más allá del béisbol'| author=Omar Marrero| publisher=El Nuevo Dia| location=Puerto Rico| language=Spanish| quote=La amistad de Bush con González y Rodríguez Mayoral se remonta a finales de la década de 1980 cuando Bush era uno de los dueños de los Rangers de Texas, equipo en el que debutó y se hizo estrella el jugador boricua.| date=2007-12-05] Igor stated that "a friendship that goes beyond baseball was created between them" and during his time in office Bush invited González to the White House twice.cite book| title='Amistad más allá del béisbol'| author=Omar Marrero| publisher=El Nuevo Dia| location=Puerto Rico| language=Spanish| quote=La reunión a puertas cerradas entre Bush, González y el historiador Luis Rodríguez Mayoral, se extendió durante unos 35 minutos por invitación del presidente. “Fue una experiencia que muy pocos pueden tener. La amistad que hemos creado va más allá del béisbol”, manifestó González a The Associated Press, en una entrevista telefónica desde Washington, Distrito de Columbia. “Hablamos mucho de béisbol, de mi futuro en las Grandes Ligas y de Puerto Rico”, reveló el pelotero.|date=2007-12-05] The first of reunions took place on April 16, 2001 and the second on December 3, 2007; in this reunion he was accompanied by historian Luis Rodriguez Mayoral. [cite book| title='Amistad más allá del béisbol'| author=Omar Marrero| publisher=El Nuevo Dia| location=Puerto Rico| language=Spanish| quote=De acuerdo con Rodríguez Mayoral, es la segunda vez que él y González se reúnen con Bush en la Casa Blanca. La primera ocasión, recordó, fue el día 16 de abril del 2001.|date=2007-12-05] The meeting extended to thirty-five minutes and González noted that the group discussed about his future in the Major Leagues and other baseball related topics as well as taking time to become familiar with the events that had happened throughout their respective careers. During this visit to Washington D.C. Gonzalez was also involved in a meeting with Rudy Giuliani and a visit to Walter Reed Military Hospital in order to visit Puerto Rican soldiers that were injured in the Iraq War. [cite book| title='Amistad más allá del béisbol'| author=Omar Marrero| publisher=El Nuevo Dia| location=Puerto Rico| language=Spanish| quote=El itinerario del toletero puertorriqueño en la capital estadounidense incluye una reunión el martes con el precandidato republicano a la presidencia, Rudolph Giuliani, y una visita el jueves al hospital militar Walter Reed, donde compartirá con soldados puertorriqueños que han sido heridos en combate.|date=2007-12-05]


González was signed by the Texas Rangers as an amateur free agent in Puerto Rico on May 30, 1986, at the age of 16 (after signing Sammy Sosa and before signing Iván Rodríguez two years later). He earned the nickname "Igor" due to his strength and his liking of a character of Puerto Rican comedian Sunshine Logroño.

In the Puerto Rico youth league, Gonzalez batted cleanup behind future Yankee center fielder Bernie Williams, where both competed against Gonzalez' future teammate Iván Rodríguez. cite web |url=http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Juan_Gonzalez_1969|title=The Ballplayers - Juan Gonzalez |accessdate=2008-09-17 |work=BaseballLibrary.com|publisher= |date= ]

Career in the Major Leagues

1986-1990: Minor leagues

González debuted with the 1986 GCL Rangers and finished with .240 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, and a .266 slugging percentage in 60 games. He only had five extra-base hits (none of them home runs) in 233 AB and struck out 57 times. He tied Harvey Pulliam by grounding into a Gulf Coast League-leading 9 double plays.

In by|1987, González showed some improvement with the Gastonia Rangers, though Mark Whiten and Junior Felix were deemed better outfield prospects in the South Atlantic League. In ratings by Baseball America, Gonzalez tied Ryan Bowen for 10th place on the prospect listing. He finished with .265 AVG, .306 OBP, and .401 slugging percentage with 14 home runs and 74 RBI.

Gonzalez spent by|1988 with the Charlotte Rangers and batted .256/~.327/.415 with 8 home runs in 277 AB. One of his outfield teammates that year was Sammy Sosa. The next year, he showed more improvement with the Tulsa Drillers hitting .293/~.322/.506 with 21 home runs and led the Texas League with 254 total bases. He outhomered Sosa by 14 and was third in the League in home runs, behind teammate Dean Palmer (25) and Chris Cron (22). Gonzalez was rated the league's #4 prospect by Baseball America, behind Ray Lankford, Andy Benes and Jose Offerman. Lankford and Warren Newson joined him in the TL All-Star outfield. He was called up by the Texas Rangers on September of that year, but only hit .150/.227/.250.

In by|1990, González - playing with the Oklahoma City 89ers - led the American Association in home runs (29), RBI (101) and total bases (252). He made the AA All-Star outfield alongside Lankford and Bernard Gilkey and was named the league MVP. Baseball America named him the top prospect in the league in a poll of managers. He finished with .258/~.343/.508 for the 89ers. In the AAA All-Star Game, González hit 4th for the AL prospects and played as a designated hitter. He went 2 for 5 with a double, one of the game's two homers, two runs and two RBI in the AL's 8-5 loss. González was again called up by the Rangers and did far better this time, batting .289/.316/.522.

1991-1999: Glory days in Texas

In by|1991, González became a regular starter for the Rangers at age 21, hitting .264 with 27 HR and 102 RBI, almost duplicating his prior year in Oklahoma City. González came up as a center fielder, as did teammate Sammy Sosa; but the Rangers opted to keep González and trade Sosa. Gonzalez eventually settled into right field, where he had a decent arm and adequate speed, but never looked entirely comfortableww fielding fly balls and extra-base hits.

In by|1992, he was the American League home-run champion with 43, one more than Mark McGwire. He also finished with a .260 batting average and a .529 slugging percentage winning the first of six Silver Slugger awards. The next year, he finished first again in home runs with 46, edging Ken Griffey, Jr. by one. He also improved his batting average and slugging percentage to .310 and .632 respectively.

That year, he was selected for the first time to the All-Star team. During the 1993 All-Star Weekend, he won the Home Run Derby preceding the All-Star Game with 7. He also finished fourth in voting for the 1993 AL MVP. He led the 1993 AL in slugging percentage winning his second Silver Slugger award.

In by|1994, the Rangers moved from Arlington Stadium to The Ballpark at Arlington. González batted only 19 and 27 home runs in 1994 and 1995, mostly playing at designated hitter due to a variety of injuries.

By the next year, González ended up averaging more than one RBI per game for a three-year span (1996-98). He won two MVP awards in this stretch (1996 and 1998). The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract listed him as the player who had the highest ratio of slugging percentage to on-base percentage in baseball history at that time, ahead of Dave Kingman and Tony Armas and 4th in RBI per game by an outfielder (behind Sam Thompson, Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth). James also ranked González as the 52nd-best right fielder in baseball history as of mid-2000.

In by|1996, González had one of his best seasons hitting .314 with a .643 slugging percentage. He edged Alex Rodríguez by one first-place vote (11-10) and 3 award points (290-287) in a very close vote to win the American League MVP. [cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1996.shtml#ALmvp|title=Baseball Awards Voting for 1996|accessdate=2008-09-17 |work=Baseball-Reference|publisher= |date= ] He won his third Silver Slugger as an outfielder and was second in the AL in slugging (87 points behind McGwire). That year, the Texas Rangers made the playoffs, and in the 1996 American League Division Series, González homered five times in four games and batted .438/.526/1.375 with 9 RBI. Texas ended up losing in four games to the New York Yankees. González tied Jeffrey Leonard's 1987 NLCS record by homering in four straight post-season games and joined Reggie Jackson and Ken Griffey, Jr. as the only players to hit five home runs in a single post-season series.

In by|1997, González batted .296/.335/.589 as a DH-RF for the Rangers, winning his fourth Silver Slugger. In 133 games he was 4th in slugging, 6th in total bases (314), third in homers (42) and RBI (131), 10th in extra-base hits (69) and tied for 6th with 10 sacrifice flies.

In by|1998, he reached the 100 RBI mark before the All-Star break (101), being the first player (and still most recent) to do so since Hank Greenberg 63 years earlier. He hit cleanup for the AL in the 1998 All-Star Game and decisively won the AL MVP award. González was 10th in the 1998 AL in batting average, second in slugging, fourth in OPS, 6th in hits (193), 4th in total bases (382), first in doubles (50), tied for fourth in home runs (45), first in RBI (157) in 154 games, tied for 8th in OPS+ (149), second in extra-base hits (97), tied for third in sac flies (11), tied for sixth in intentional walks (9) and tied for third in double plays ground into (20). In April, he drove in 35 runs, a major league record for the month that still stands today. He also won his fifth Silver Slugger. The Rangers reached the playoffs, only to be swept by the Yankees. González batted only 1 for 12 in the Division Series.

In by|1999, he was 9th in the AL in average, 4th in slugging, 6th in OPS, 10th in runs (114), 6th in total bases (338), 6th in home runs (39), 5th in RBI (128), 7th in extra-base hits (76) and 2nd in sacrifice flies (12). However, he ended up struggling again in the Division Series, hitting only .182/.250/.455 with one homer as Texas was swept by New York for the second straight season. The only run the Rangers scored in the series was the homer by González.

González's four-year peak aligned with the first (and to date, only) three post-season appearances in the Rangers' history.


2004 to present: Comeback attempts

On January 6, by|2004, González was signed by the Kansas City Royals. However, his back worsened during in the middle of May and his season came to an end. He ended up hitting .276/.326/.441 in 33 games. His $4.5 million deal was one of the largest on the club so in October 28 of the same year, they let him go.

He was signed later again by the Cleveland Indians. González suffered a major injury to his hamstring and was out for the rest of the season after just one at-bat in May.

González signed on with the independent Atlantic League in 2006, playing for the Long Island Ducks. He hit .323/.377/.515 in 36 games, with 6 HR and 23 RBI. His time was again limited by injuries.

The St. Louis Cardinals invited Gonzalez to spring training prior to the 2008 season. [cite web| url=http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Baseball/MLB/2008/02/04/4826130-ap.html| title=Juan Not Gone: Former star Juan Gonzalez to attempt comeback with Cardinals | author=The Associated Press| publisher=Slam! Sports| date=2008-02-04| accessdate=2008-02-04] He was one of 26 non-roster invites, participating in full roster workouts that began on February 19, 2008. [ cite web| url=http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb/02/04/juangone.comeback.ap/index.html| title=Gonzalez attempting comeback: Former AL MVP invited to Cardiansl camp | author=The Associated Press| publisher=Sports Illustrated date=2008-02-04| accessdate=2008-02-05] He hit .308 with a .462 SLG% in spring training with 1 HR, 1 2B and 5 RBI in 9 games. He is currently on the Cardinals' temporarily inactive list.

Career in Puerto Rico

In the 1989-1990 Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League, González hit .269/~.345/.500 for the Criollos de Caguas and hit 9 home runs, one less than former league leader Greg Vaughn.

During the 1992-1993 season, he batted .333 for the Santurce Crabbers and won the league MVP award despite not playing until after the All-Star break. He hit 7 home runs and led the league despite playing in only 66 games. González did not accompany Santurce to the 1993 Caribbean Series. The next season, he ended up hitting .268 with 7 homers, 3 behind Phil Hiatt.

In 1995, González joined the San Juan Senators for the 1995 Caribbean Series and hit .375 with 6 RBI as the Puerto Rican "Dream Team" won the title. González hit 5th, between Carlos Delgado and Rubén Sierra on a team that also boasted Roberto Alomar, Bernie Williams, Carlos Baerga and Edgar Martínez. San Juan outscored their opponents 49-15.

During the 2006-2007 Puerto Rican League, in 33 games playing for the champion Carolina Giants, González hit .281 with 18 RBIs and 4 homers. In 12 playoff games, he batted .369 with 3 home runs and 5 RBIs. González claims he is healthy and no longer feels pain in his legs. He was 10 for 26 (.385) in the 2007 Caribbean Series and made the All-Star team at DH.


* 3-time All-Star (1993, 1998, 2001)
* American League MVP (1996, 1998)
* 3-time Top 10 MVP (9th, 1997; 4th, 1993; 5th, 2001)
* His 434 career home runs ranks 31st on the all-time list
* 6 Silver Slugger awards (1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001)
* 2-time American League Home Run Champion (1992, 1993)
* 5 40+ HR Seasons (1992, 43; 1993, 46; 1996, 47; 1997, 42; 1998, 45)
* Finished Top 5 in RBI 5 times. (1993, 4th, 118; 1996, 2nd, 144; 1997, 3rd, 131; 1998, 1st, 157; 1999, 5th, 128; 2001, 2nd, 140)
* Finished Top 5 in slugging percentage 5 times. (1992, 5th, .561%; 1993, 1st, .632%; 1996, 2nd, .643%; 1997, 4th, .589%; 1998, 2nd, .630%; 1999, 4th, .601%; 2001, 5th, .590)
* Became just the 2nd player in major league history to have at least 100 RBI before the All-Star Break. (101 in 1998, second to Hank Greenberg who had 103)
* Ranks 5th for all-time HR/plate appearance with 16.49
* Ranks 7th for all-time RBI/game with .831.
* Ranks 15th for all-time AB per HR with 15.1 AB/HR.
* Ranks 21st for all-time slugging percentage with .561%
* Tied for 1st in postseason history in home runs in a single Division Series with Ken Griffey, Jr. (Gonzalez - 5 HR in 4 games 1996, Griffey - 5 HR in 5 games in 1995)
* Ranks 2nd in postseason history in slugging percentage in a single Division Series (1.375% in 1996)
* Ranks 2nd in postseason history in OPS in a single Division Series (1.901 in 1996)
* Tied for 2nd with 10 other players in extra base hits in a single Division Series (5 in 1996 & 2001)
* Ranks 3rd in postseason history in total bases in a single Division Series (22 in 1996)
* Ranks 7th in postseason history in RBI in a single Division Series (9 in 1996)
* Tied for 2nd in postseason history in career HR in the Division Series (8 HR)
* Ranks 4th in postseason history in career slugging percentage in the Division Series (.742)
* Ranks 7th in postseason history in career extra base hits in Division Series (12)
* Ranks 8th in postseason history in career OPS in the Division Series (1.075)

ee also

* Top 500 home run hitters of all time
* Players from Puerto Rico in professional baseball
* List of famous Puerto Ricans
* List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
* List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
* List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
* List of Major League Baseball home run champions
* Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game


External links

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