Let's start with the surface negative: Carlos Gonzalez struck out. A lot. With a 2013 K% of 27.1, it marks the highest strikeout rate in a single season since Miguel Olivo's 2010, as well as the third overall in Rockies history among players with comparable plate appearances. To put this in perspective, Gonzalez struck out three more times in 2013 than he did in 2012, with almost 120 fewer plate appearances.
The good news, though, is that he was swinging at baseballs, and a lot of good things happened when he did. Despite the lack of playing time in the final quarter of the season, Gonzalez put him easily his best season since he led the National League in hits in 2010. His slugging percentage, on base percentage and WRC+ were all comparable to his best campaign, with his improved walk rate bolstering the OBP to balance out the thirty point lower batting average, marking the only major difference.
When compared to 2012, Gonzalez' power returned to career norms after having evaporated in the second half of the previous season. He also put up one of his best years in base-stealing, nabbing 21 bags while being caught just three times. According to the often mystifying defensive metrics, Gonzalez rebounded nicely after a pretty poor showing last year, putting up solid numbers for a Rockies/Coors outfielder, and this year his Gold Glove award inspired a lot less controversy.
Clocking in at 4.9 bWAR and fWAR, his value was as high as it has been since his contract extension. From the WPA perspective, Gonzalez was the least productive of the big four offensive contributors (Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki all eclipsing him in the win probability contributions).
It's amusing that I can easily write 1000 words about Logan Kensing and struggle to top 500 for a significantly more important player, but the fact is that we know what we have in this one: CarGo remains the cornerstone of the Rockies' outfield, and barring trade, should continue to be so for at least the next four seasons.
2013 Grade: A
The only significant downside to Gonzalez' season was his inability to stay healthy. Gonzalez had lingering leg problems from the season's outset that frequently led to lightended playing time early on, and eventually fell victim to one of those obnoxious finger injuries that always seem to cause so much more trouble than they should. After spending half of August on the disabled list, he was activated in September, but with the Rockies out of contention, he was forced into a defensive replacement role in order to prevent more finger distress with the bat.
Gonzalez projects to be our left fielder once again, but if the Rockies end up trading Dexter Fowler, he could be considered for a move back to center. As has been said so many times about so many players these past three years, let us just hope that good health remains and we see him batting in that third lineup spot a lot more often than we did in 2013.