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2011 Rockies Player Review: Carlos Gonzalez

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Carlos Gonzalez's promising season was derailed by a recurring right wrist injury.
Carlos Gonzalez's promising season was derailed by a recurring right wrist injury.

2010 was a phenomenal year for Carlos Gonzalez, a true breakout season. He led the league in batting average (.336), hits (197), and total bases (351) while putting up 6.5 fWAR. On defense, he prowled the outfield with speed and grace, firing his laser of a left arm if baserunners were foolish. Gonzalez finished 3rd in NL MVP voting and won both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. Whenever you needed it most, CarGo had your tacos right here.

During the off-season, Gonzalez signed a 7 year, $80 million extension to keep himself in Denver through much of his prime, leading Rockies fans to imagine a multi-championship team lead by its 3 O's. In other words, expectations for 2011 for CarGo were pretty astronomical. It's safe to say that Carlos Gonzalez's 2011 didn't live up to those expectations -- but to be honest, very few players on the Rockies did, and CarGo would have come close if he weren't injured during the season's second half.

Fellow young star Troy Tulowitzki was supposed to be the slow starter, but it was CarGo who struggled early on, hitting just .228/.277/.304 in the season's first month. As the weather improved, Gonzalez found his groove -- eventually finishing the first half with a line of .292/.359/.491. After April, Gonzalez didn't have another subpar month at the plate, but unfortunately he didn't come to the plate nearly enough in the second half.

Gonzalez injured his right wrist while running into a wall trying to make a catch in July, then aggravated the injury multiple times over the next couple of months. His all-out style is one of the things that fans love about him, but it's largely what kept him off the field for 37 games in 2011.

On a rate basis, CarGo's final 2011 numbers (.295/.363/.526, 26 HR, 92 RBI, 20 SB) are pretty impressive, especially when you consider that he played most of the second half with a hurt wrist, only reaching 542 PAs on the year. If he were healthy, replicating his 2010 stats could have been a plausible scenario. Despite his sterling rep as an outfielder (he sure passes my eye test), neither Baseball-Reference nor Fangraphs rated Gonzalez's defense as a positive, so it was definitely interesting to see that he was worth 4.1 fWAR but only 2.6 rWAR.

Rating: B+

Gonzalez, even in an injury-plagued season, was a well above average middle of the order threat for the Rockies who played good defense (suck it, computers!). He wasn't an elite player, which is why the A eludes him, but it was still a pretty darn good "down" year.

2012: I fully expect CarGo to be an absolute beast in 2012 (30-30, GG, SS, his first All-Star appearance), but I will stop short of guaranteeing it (you're welcome). After all, Gonzalez does play with reckless abandon -- and being in the wrong place at the wrong time could derail great promise.