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Rockies great Carlos González’s improbable encore

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Rockies fans got a second chance to say goodbye in 2018

You’re reading the 2018 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the season had by every player to play for the Rockies in 2018. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the least amount of rWAR and end up with the player with the most.

★ ★ ★

No. 18, Carlos González (0.4 rWAR)

This was last season’s headline for Carlos González’s Ranking the Rockies profile, courtesy of Connor Farrell: An imperfect swan song for Rockies all-timer Carlos González. It was all too fitting because nobody, likely not even the Rockies, expected him back. If 2017 felt like an imperfect swan song, 2018 was an improbable encore. Not only did CarGo return to the Rockies, but he even put together a pretty decent season.

For much of the season though, it was way better than “pretty decent.” From Opening Day until August 28, CarGo hit .294/.348/.495 — a huge improvement from the 2017 .262/.339/.423 slash line that led to “why does it have to end like this?” thinking.

If only it would have stayed that way. González ended the season mired in a miserable slump. After August 28 through game 163, CarGo hit .190/.235/.329. That essentially erased his bounce back season. He ended the 2018 campaign with a .276/.329/.467 batting line. His on-base ability was worse in 2018 than in 2017, but his slugging increased on account of four more extra base hits in 30 fewer plate appearances.

Ultimately, if this is the swan song for CarGo and the Rockies, and my guess is that this will finally be it, it’s no less imperfect than if 2017 was his final year with the team. It might even be more disappointing because he was vintage CarGo for much of the 2018 season.

Here’s another thing Connor wrote in last year’s postseason profile of González: “He will not be remembered for this season, but he will be remembered.” The same applies here. If in five years we remember CarGo’s September 2018 slump, it will be in the context of the Rockies’ overall offensive troubles that showed up in force in the postseason. More than that though, we’ll remember the swing and the smile, and we’ll remember Nolan Arenado bear hugging CarGo upon his return to the team in March, hoping hopelessly that he’ll never play anywhere else other than in Colorado.