Another first year candidate on the ballot this year is Juan Gonzalez. Gonzalez is probably widely remembered for his unwillingness to sign an 8 year, $140 million extension with the Tigers due to how the newly constructed Comerica Park played for power hitters in its inaugural season.
1996 and 1998 American League MVP
6 Silver Slugger Awards
3 All Star Appearances
434 Career Home Runs
5 40+ Home Runs Seasons
8 100+ RBI seasons
4 130+ RBI seasons
9 seasons of OPS+ of 130 or Greater
5 seasons with .310 batting average or higher
The Case for Gonzalez
Gonzalez was one of the top power hitters during a major portion in his career. He won 2 MVP awards, had 40+ homers 5 times, and was one of the elite run producers during his career.
The Case Against Gonzalez
Gonzalez tailed off pretty precipitously after his single season in Detroit, only having one good season (2001 in Cleveland), and ended his career rather quietly in his last 4 seasons. He provided mostly offense in an era widely known for offense and had steroid accusations about him on occasion as well. He appeared to be a bit of a primadonna, being extremely unhappy with how Comerica Park was constructed (wall distances mostly). For as gaudy as his career numbers ended up, his career WAR was only 33.5, with only 2 seasons of 5 or higher.
Gonzalez really sticks out to me as one of those “tweener” candidates. He clearly had some elite seasons, winning two MVP awards, and clubbing homers all over the place in 1992-1993 and 1996-1999. He was an elite run producer during these years as well, and ended up with some solid career numbers. The things that I think keep me from picking him as a Hall of Famer are two fold. One, while his offensive numbers definitely look huge in the scheme of history, they don’t seem to compare well with regard to WAR. He only posted 2 seasons of 5 or higher WAR, and only 4 seasons with a WAR of even 3 or higher. This leads me to reflect that his offense was good,but not necessarily exorbitantly better than his counterparts. Two, his career trailed off so quickly after leaving Cleveland. He was essentially done as a Major League regular by the age of 31, just 13 seasons into his career. I think that he is another candidate who had a very good career, but that we will always wonder what might have been had he stayed healthy and played through that contract (had he signed it).
MY VOTE: NO