Happy birthday to former Texas Ranger outfielder Juan Gonzalez, who turns 46 today.
When I saw the line on B-R saying that Juan Gonzalez was born in 1969, I thought to myself, that must be a different Juan Gonzalez, a pitcher or something...there is no way that Juan Gonzalez is less than 15 months older than me. Juan Gone can't be only 46, given how long he's been out of the game...
But nope, its true. The thing that throws off the internal calendar with Gonzalez was that he was so young when he came up -- he was 19 when he debuted, and his first full season was at age 21 -- and then cratered in his early 30s. Gonzalez played in 140 games for Cleveland at the age of 31, in 2001, and then didn't have a season with more than 82 games the rest of his career. He had the two injury-plagues seasons in 2002-03, in his return to Texas, a disappointing 33 game campaign for Kansas City in 2004, and then, literally, one plate appearance for the Indians in 2005, where he started the year on the d.l., was activated for a game on May 31, hurt himself running out a ground ball in the top of the first, and was pulled from the game.
Juan was a remarkable offensive force, leading the majors in home runs twice, and putting up video game stats in 1998, when he had 50 doubles, 45 home runs, and 157 RBIs while slashing .318/.366/.630 and winning the MVP. Realistically, Juan probably wasn't the best candidate in either of his MVP years of 1996 and 1998, but he was an intimidating figure at the plate...sort of the Jim Rice of his generation.