So reader Dave responded to my post yesterday by agreeing with my conclusion as far as the starting rotation. He also stated that it seems that Texas no longer has an impact bat like they did with Juan Gonzalez in the 1990's.
Dave's comment made me wonder if he was right, is there a Juan Gonzalez type bat on the 2010 team? Dave mentioned that he remembered Gonzo just destroying Yankee pitching during a post-season appearance. A quick check revealed that Juan's best post-season was 1996. Thus the reason for Juan's appearance on this shiny 1996 Topps Wrecking Crew card, number WC8.
I decided to compare Gonzalez's 1996 numbers with a few of the big boppers on this 2010 team. Of course Josh Hamilton was at the top of the list. However, Dave had qualified his comment with Josh Hamilton's health being a concern. A healthy Hamilton is obviously a wrecking crew just as much as Gonzalez was. Hamilton out, I decided to narrow the comparison to Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz. It helps to remember in this comparison that Gonzalez and Guerrero's numbers are the result of a full season of play while Cruz missed a substantial part of the season. Nellie had 198 fewer plate appearances than Guerrero and 147 fewer than Gonzalez.
In 1996 Juan Gonzalez hammered 47 home runs. Guerrero launched 29 this year and Cruz 22. Gonzalez also knocked in 144 RBI. Guerrero posted 115 and Cruz 78. Gonzo's slugging percentage was .643 as compared to .496 for Guerrero and .576 for Cruz. Clearly advantage to Gonzalez in these areas. It begins to look like Dave might have a point but there are a few other numbers to consider.
Gonzalez hit 33 doubles in 1996. This year Guerrero hit 27 and Cruz 31 (don't forget the plate appearances difference). Gonzalez hit just two triples. Guerrero only got one this year but Cruz managed three. Juan's batting average in 1996 was .314. Vlad posted a .300 mark this year and Cruz came in at .318. Gonzalez's on base percentage was .368 while Guerrero came in at .345 and Cruz at .374. Gonzalez stole just two bases. Guerrero stole four but was caught five times and so negated his numbers. Cruz on the other hand swiped 17 while being snagged just four times. In these sets of numbers the picture begins to change a little. I had expected Guerrero to perhaps equal Gonzalez but Cruz came on surprisingly strong and equals or excels Juan in these areas.
In conclusion I think that Dave is probably right. If Josh Hamilton doesn't get back to normal the Rangers don't have an impact bat like they did in the 1996 playoffs. That doesn't mean they don't have one though. Vlad Guerrero is still dangerous and Nelson Cruz can certainly impact a game. Not in the same ways as Gonzalez did but perhaps just as much.