Today marks the last day that the Twins get to beat up on the Baltimore Orioles. Right now, the team is riding high with the top OPS and slugging percentage in MLB. On the position player side, there has been only one disappointment and that is the subject of this thread--Marwin Gonzalez.
Let's face it, Gonzalez has been poor at the plate. He's hitting .164 and his OPS (.488) is lower than the team's slugging percentage.Talk in the game threads on this site is to trade him, release him, bat him ninth or bench him. I don't see any statistic (advanced or otherwise) that suggests that Marwin has been particularly unlucky. Yet Gonzalez has been a regular with almost 80 plate appearances in the first 24 games.
I liked the signing when the Twins acquired Marwin and I still do. I think that Baldelli is correct in going with him as the principal third baseman and I think his offensive performance will improve. Gonzalez started slowly last year and ended up with a 102 OPS+ for the season. It is early yet, there are 138 games yet to be played. If Marwin were to go 5-5 today with a double and a homer (for instance), his numbers would look OK, that is the way the early season works. Other veteran players have had lousy starts and came back to have good seasons. As a switch-hitter, Gonzalez offers some balance to the lineup and with everyone else raking, the team can afford to be patient.
On the other hand, we're not talking about Trout or Altuve here. Gonzalez is a good player with a lifetime OPS+ of 101, enhanced by a career year two years ago. His biggest asset has been his versatility, with the ability to be plugged in almost anywhere and hit and field competently. I don't think the leash should be too long and the Twins do have a third baseman working back from injury right now.
Baseball Reference (and my eyes) say that Gonzalez has been good at third base so far this year. When Sano returns, he can be freed to be the guy who starts almost any place and is a solid veteran and a threat at the plate. It can't hurt to have quality depth in a long season and I think Marwin Gonzalez will provide that depth and versatility for the Twins has he did for the Astros.