From Mr. Seth Livingstone of USA Today:
This is pressing all my buttons at once. I am so annoyed at reading this sentence that I have to right about why.
First off, Gonzalez’s MVPs were terrible and he should have not won them if the award means “Best Player in the League” and not “Dude Who Hit Homeruns in Texas”. Check out the voting billboard on B-R: 1996, 1998. His winning two MVPs has irked me basically since it happened and is one of those things that just makes me irritation irritated.
Next let’s say Gonzalez’s peak was from 1993-1999. His line during that time was , .307/.356/.599 which is really good even if you take into account Arlington. It’s important to note that he was good.
Now let’s take a look at some people hitting in the American League at the same time as Juan Gonzalez. This is just an off the top of my head list sampling.
|Bernie Williams (94-99)||.319||.406||.524||.930|
|Rafael Palmeiro (93-99)||.297||.378||.558||.936|
|Alex Rodriguez (96-99)||.314||.371||.567||.938|
|Juan Gonzalez (93-99)
|Albert Belle (93-99)||.308||.391||.602||.993|
|Manny Ramirez (95-99)||.314||.407||.588||.995|
|Ken Griffey, JR (93-99)||.297||.388||.613||1.000|
|Edgar Martinez (93-99)||.325||.444||.559||1.003|
|Jim Thome (95-99)||.296||.430||.575||1.005|
|Frank Thomas (93-99)||.319||.438||.585||1.023|
Gonzalez winds up in the middle of the pack here, which is certainly excellent company but by any measure he’s not the best hitter of the group. “Most feared” then does not mean “best hitter” (which we already knew). In that case, what does it mean? Does it mean he was intentionally walked the most because pitchers and managers were so scared of him that they refused to throw him anything to hit? From 1993-1999 Gonzalez was intentionally walked 55 times. Edgar Martinez who missed much of 1993 and a big chunk of 1994 due to injuries was walked 56 times in the same time period.
Calling someone “most feared” really means–as far as I can tell–that you want to say someone a really good hitter, but can’t call him the best because it’s clearly not true and need to come up with some way of saying that he was really good with a bit of extra impact. That’s silly, Juan Gonzalez was an excellent hitter during his peak and doesn’t need any kind of silly mythos to emphasize that. Especially when you want me to believe that pitchers would rather face Ken Griffey or Frank Thomas rather than Gonzalez. That’s without even considering that it’s a ridiculous question to pose anyway because who would want to face any of these guys??
I’m not even going to touch “RBI machine” because it’ll cause my brain to explode.