Houston Astros: Where will Marwin Gonzalez play next season?

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Marwin Gonzalez
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Marwin Gonzalez /

The Houston Astros know how to utilize Marwin Gonzalez, one of the few true utility men in the league. He might be tied to one position next season, but it is unlikely.

The Houston Astros possess more offensive weapons than just about any team. No lineup across the league scored more runs than the club in 2017.

But even with the reigning American League MVP and a slew of talented young guns, the most unique player on the team is Marwin Gonzalez. Yet, last season may have been the first time some baseball fans even knew he existed.

Gonzalez is arguably the most versatile utility man in the game. The only positions he didn’t play last season was center field and catcher. He only had one at-bat as a right fielder, though.

The switch-hitter was last year’s Jonathan Villar for the squad, making a name for himself after posting an impressive year. Gonzalez led the Astros with 90 RBIs and sported a .907 OPS, sitting just behind Altuve and Correa in the category.

It was easily the best season of Gonzalez’s career. He improved substantially in nearly every category, except stolen bases.

Gonzalez hit a substandard .254 in 2016, launching just 13 homers and drawing 22 walks in 518 plate appearances. In comparison, he clobbered 23 bombs, 34 doubles and garnered 49 walks in 515 plate appearances. His triple-slash line improved from .254/.293/.401 to .303/.377/.530.

Manager A.J. Hinch can utilize Gonzalez in many ways, and with someone as multitalented as him, it helps with the team’s overall durability. More guys can receive rest days due to the team’s depth – Gonzalez included.

He spent a majority of his time in left field and at shortstop. Being that starting shortstop Carlos Correa faced a prolonged injury, it’s not a surprise. However, with everyone healthy in 2018, the question is where and how often the 28-year-old will play.

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Houston’s infield seems set in stone, as Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel. But if one of them gets injured, Gonzalez is the first option.

According to the current Astros roster, which includes more than 25 players, there are no backups for shortstop and second base. However, first and third have multiple bench guys.

The outfield also has several serviceable players, but the left fielders aren’t as competent as Gonzalez. Derek Fisher and Tony Kemp dominated in Triple-A but struggled during their time in the big leagues. Their combined average in 303 at-bats was a meager .215.

Thus, Gonzalez could spend most of his time as the everyday left fielder.

Hinch will likely slot the utility man in just about every position. And if he continues to hit as well as he did last season, he will get 500 to 600 plate appearances.

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But just like he’s done in the past, he won’t be tied to just one position. If any infielders get injured, he should be the go-to guy for the Houston Astros.