Expectations shouldn’t have been high for Marwin Gonzalez, and they weren’t. He was signed to a one-year deal by Brian Cashman to serve as a utility player for the Yankees, and that’s what he was. He was far from good, but he filled the role.
2022 Statistics: 85 games, 207 plate appearances, .185/.255/.321, 65 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR
2023 Contract Status: Free Agent
The 33-year-old was nothing for the Yankees to brag about in the lineup. As expected, he usually hit toward the bottom of the order and played six different positions throughout the 2022 major league season. He appeared in 16 games at shortstop, the most out of any position, with left field and first base coming in second and third, respectively. That at least showcases the versatility Gonzalez still brings even late in his career.
The performance wasn’t much to brag about for Gonzalez through the first month or two. However, in June, he played in 12 games, saw 43 plate appearances, and hit .317, which was his best month of the season. It was also the first of two months where he would hit precisely three home runs. In both June and September/October, Gonzalez went deep three times, while he didn’t go deep once in any other month.
The veteran played in more games over the first half of the season, slashing .234/.301/.378 with a wRC+ of 95, which despite being slightly below average, is better than most fans expected. If he could have kept that up, he would have ended up turning in a pretty strong season for a backup/ However, his second half was entirely abysmal. Gonzalez slashed .110/.185/.233, resulting in a horrid 19 wRC+, which really tanked his overall numbers.
The biggest positive of Gonzalez’s season was his defense. Despite moving around and playing a lot of positions in the field, there wasn’t one where his outs above average (OAA) per Baseball Savant was below average. His best fielding came at third base and right field, where he registered a +3 in that statistic. If anything, manager Aaron Boone could trust him to fill in well on the defensive side of the game, even if the offense was lackluster or, in the case of the second half, missing entirely.
Probably the biggest shock of the season that everyone has engrained into the Yankees fan part of their brains is when he was given a shot on the American League Division Series roster against the Cleveland Guardians and then given another shot against his former team—the Houston Astros—in the American League Championship Series.
Against Cleveland, Gonzalez took one at-bat that ended in a strikeout. He didn’t step up to the plate against the future World Series Champions. The Yankees thought it would be a good idea to have him on the bench in case the worst-case scenario happened and one of Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge, or whoever got injured. But considering the omission of Oswald Peraza from the Division Series lineup, there were many questions from the Yankees faithful regarding the decision-making of those in the organization.
When Gonzalez was called upon, he did what he needed to do, at least on defense. In the field, fans could trust him to make the right play most of the time. At the plate, he was not great, and the second half was one that no one wants to remember. He was a forgettable player throughout the season unless he was hitting bombs, which didn’t happen often. He was given a ‘D’ grade for a reason.