Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #11 Alex Gonzalez

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We’re down to 11 days before Opening Day at Miller Park on April 1st. There are just a Marcus-Hanel-sized handful of profiles remaining in this year’s “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” countdown series.

Today’s profile has a short back story on a personal level which you might not care about, but since you’re already here I’m going to share it.

I make a list at the beginning of the series to keep track of which profiles I’ve already done along with having the spreadsheet calculate the days for me so I know I’m not miscounting along the way. Well, when I was putting 2013’s list together I started by copying last year’s list, changed Opening Day, and then deleted players who were no longer on the team. Kameron Loe, Francisco Rodriguez, Manny Parra, Shaun Marcum, Cesar Izturis, Zack Greinke, Nyjer Morgan, George Kottaras, and more…they all fell to the delete key. The thing was, I never did delete the name next to #11 on the list.

That of course would be today’s profile subject…

Alex Gonzalez.


What a difference a year — more or less — makes.

With 11 days to go before Opening Day in 2012, I was touting the defensive mastery of the Milwaukee Brewers’ new starting shortstop. I was trumpeting not only the departure of Yuniesky Betancourt, but more so that a superior player was coming to the team in his place. A player touted by veteran broadcaster Jim Powell as the best defensive shortstop he’d ever seen play on a daily basis.

It was truly a great day to focus on a good acquisition.

Then May 5th happened. Alex Gonzalez slid late into second base and his knee buckled under the pressure of the impact. Torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and his season was over. He rehabbed following surgery and even sat in the dugout for a few games in September late last year, but never played again for the Brewers before his contract expired. He wanted a starting shortstop job but couldn’t find one so he eventually agreed to come back to the Brewers to presumably back up Jean Segura at shortstop.

That wouldn’t be nearly enough change. No, instead Gonzalez is not only the primary backup at short, but will also be expected to play second base and third base at times throughout the year. Furthermore, Gonzalez could very well be the primary starter at an infield position, but instead of shortstop, we’re now talking about first base.

First base, a position which isn’t quite as easy as many casual observers would have you believe, and a position which Alex Gonzalez has never played in his entire, long MLB career.

To watch Gonzalez defensively though, that same casual observer would be hard-pressed to identify flaws in Gonzalez’ game at his new primary, if short-term, position. He has been stretching well on throws, picking up the footwork far more quickly than Mat Gamel did over there, and has been demonstrating an understanding of the nuance of the position like where to be on cutoff throws and the like.

Last year, Gonzalez came to camp with a defensive reputation and offensive question marks. “Could he hit enough?” “Would he hit better than his career averages because of Miller Park?” The sample size was too small to know for sure, but the amount of pop in his bat surprised many fans. Yeah, he’ll strike out a lot and not walk much, but his role at the plate over the next few weeks will be that of run producer, not table setter. I think he’ll be just fine.

And the Brewers could use a little bit of “just fine” instead of more injuries.


Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:


  1. Pingback: Daybreak Doppler: And That’s Why It’s Madness |
  2. Ogie

    Brewers are in for a 90 loss season. Pitching will likely be brutally bad. They will be competing with the Cubs for the basement in the NL Central. Damn you Attanasio.

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