Carlos González just looked like he didn't have it anymore. His 2017 season was a disaster, and we were running out of reasons to hope. With each day that the Rockies started him it looked more foolish than the last. It seemed there was only nostalgia, loyalty, or some combination of the two left to explain how the team could possibly think CarGo had one of his patented hot streaks left in him.
Pitchers fearlessly attacked González with fastballs in the zone. The hits seemed to only be soft flares and lucky groundballs. The mini hitting streaks felt hollow because he still didn't look like CarGo. During the low moments of the season with an offense that has often held this team back, those sad CarGo at-bats were especially uncomfortable to watch. It was perfectly reasonable to think that the Rockies should bench or maybe even part ways with their longest-tenured player.
Then it happened. Or—it is happening. It’s genuinely shocking, but it looks like CarGo is turning it on the way he did in his prime, reminding us what we meant all these years when we talked about him being able to carry a team when he’s dialed in at the plate.
We are less than a month from the end of another long, grueling season, and González looks poised to add a surprising and wonderful chapter to the Rockies' 2017 story. He is on a real hot streak, and he's doing it in the most important games of the season as the team clings to a playoff spot.
There have been hard hit balls, there have been opposite field line drives, and in a 4-2 win Tuesday night, there were two authoritative home runs as González drove in all four of the team’s runs.
We know baseball can be cruel, and any 0-5 night this month could be the start of another CarGo cold streak. That would make this temporary resurgence a cruel tease. I know that might happen, but I'm choosing to ignore the possibility for now, because if the Rockies make the playoffs and they do so with a hot CarGo in the lineup, I can hardly think of something I would enjoy more as a fan.
This weekend the Rockies will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Rocktober, stirring up the echoes of the greatest stretch in team history and the franchise's only series wins in the playoffs. It's easy to dream on the symmetry and hope that the 2017 Rockies can go on their own run 10 years later. But in the meantime, CarGo is stirring up some different echoes: those of the team’s run to the playoffs in 2009.
González tore the league up in August of that year to the tune of a ridiculous .371/.472/.714 slash line. He followed that with a .275/.342/.520 line in September, and he hit 11 home runs over those final two months as the Rockies earned a playoff berth.
This year, August finally saw González clawing his way up to respectable production and out of the "worst player in the league" conversation with a .279/.333/.419 line. Over the last 28 days, he is slashing .323/.444/.600. Just for laughs, we can also note that his current slash line through nine games in September is .429/.568/.893. All told, CarGo is giving us legitimate reason to dream on another patented hot streak in the final months for a playoff team.
We know what a CarGo hot streak meant to that team in August and September of 2009. Back then, it was fun because "Little Pony" was only just getting started. His bright future was still ahead of him. Eight years later, it seems clear that the career arrow for González is pointing down and these might be his last days on the Rockies.
The joy of a CarGo hot streak would now come in equal parts because it would feel poetic and also because it just felt so darn unlikely. If it ends up that he tore things up over the last two months, we won't care a lick what he did before August of 2017. The cold truth of context neutral measures like WAR and wRC+ will tell us he had a terrible season. We won't care. We'll just love how much fun it was to watch CarGo be CarGo again during a march towards a new Rocktober.