Thursday, February 23, 2006

February 23rd, 1983

Edgar Gonzalez Born

This is inspired, in part, by a recent news story. Tony Womack claimed that, among other things, the Yankees "held [him] back" and the only thing about 2005 is that it "makes [him] mad, because "it messes up [his] baseball card." Now there's plenty of snide remarks that can be made there--2005 messes up Tony's card but 2003 didn't?-- but it raised a point I've always found remarkable about professional athletes. To wit, they have a level of self-delusion about their talent that is almost amazing. Womack, for example, claims that "people say I don't have a good on-base percentage. But when I get on, a lot of things happen. There's no stat for that." Tony is right about his on-base percentage--it's awful--and virtually every stat would tell you he has been a bad-to-awful ballplayer for years and years. 2004, Womack's career year, saw him post an OPS+ of just 93, and a career average of 73. Baseball Prospectus' equivalent average (a stat that takes a player's overall offense value and converts it onto the batting average scale so .300 is good, .400 is exceptional and so on) put Womack's 2004 at .264 and his career mark is just .243. And yet I have little doubt that Womack truly believes in his heart of hearts that he a valuable of a Major League team.

So what does any of this have to do with Edgar Gonzalez? Gonzalez is only slightly older than me, about a year, and his Major League career to this point has been nothing short of a disaster. Over the course of three years, Gonzalez has a record of 2-10 with an appalling 8.58 ERA, an ERA+ of 53. In 2004, when Gonzalez was twenty-one, the same "age-year" that I'm just now wrapping up, he went 1-9 with a 9.32 ERA. Gonzalez surrendered at least two runs in every appearance he made that year, including a nightmare start in
San Francisco when he gave up ten runs, eight hits, two walks and two homers in just one inning.

And here's the thing. If you were to corner Gonzalez this Spring Training, he would tell you he had some bad luck in 2004, or he wasn't quite ready but he's sure he'll be able to contribute to the D-Backs this year. And that's amazing. I'm21, and I get discouraged when the Job Fair at my college doesn't have positions I think are right for me, and yet Edgar Gonzalez was an absolute disaster at the highest level of his profession but he is probably still of full confidence. Earlier I call that self-delusion, and it may be, but there's something to be said for having that kind of confidence in oneself.

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