Monday, March 10, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #116 JUAN GONZALEZ


HAD A KNACK FOR DRIVING IN RUNS.



ANOTHER GREAT '90s PLAYER SUSPECTED OF PED USE.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • If you made a list of the best hitters of the 1990s, Juan Gonzalez would be near the top. If you made a similar list of the best hitters most likely to have used PEDs in the '90s, he'd be near the top of that list, too. Unfortunately during that decade, the two lists go hand in hand. Gonzalez, named by #99 Jose Canseco in his tell-all book as a user, was a run-producing stud during his 17-year career. He averaged 107 RBI and 34 homers in the '90s and won two AL MVPs with the Rangers.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • On July 5, 1998, Gonzalez drove in four runs against the Mariners, including two homers off  #154 Randy Johnson, in the final game before the All-Star break. That gave him 101 RBI, the first player since Hank Greenberg in '35 to reach the century mark at the break. Some Greenberg trivia: He wasn't selected for the AL All-Star squad despite 103 RBI.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Gonzalez ended with 157 RBI in '98, hitting 45 homers, 50 doubles with a .318/.366/.630 slash line and earning his second MVP.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Grew up in Puerto Rico and played with #30 Bernie Williams in youth leagues and against future teammate #47 Ivan Rodriguez.
  2. The Rangers had Gonzalez and #79 Sammy Sosa as top prospects in the mid-'80s and promoted them at the same time in '89 but elected to keep Gonzalez and trade Sosa. 
  3. Gonzalez had his breakout season in '91, hitting 27 homers and driving in 102 runs.
  4. The Rangers were beaten in four games by the Yankees in the AL Division Series in '96, but it wasn't Gonzalez's fault. He slammed five homers and drove in nine, slugging 1.375 with 22 total bases and a .526 on-base percentage.
  5. Canseco wrote that he injected Gonzalez with steroid cocktails when the two were teammates from '92-'94. Gonzalez, who denied he used PEDs, also was named in the Mitchell Report. 


THE SIGNS ARE THERE THAT GONZO WAS DIRTY.

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