2-Time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez Has Had a Big Impact in Puerto Rico
Juan Gonzalez was one of the top outfielders in the MLB during his career. He spent 16 years in the league and played for four different teams.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, Gonzalez was one hitter that pitchers did not want to pitch to. Looking at his numbers, there’s no question on why he was regarded as one of the best hitters in the league.
A look at Juan Gonzalez career
Gonzalez is a Puerto Rico native, and he started playing baseball at a young age. Growing up in Puerto Rico, he was teammates with former baseball star Bernie Williams. In 1986 the Texas Rangers signed Gonzalez as an amateur free agent at the age of 16. Gonzalez made his debut in the majors in 1989 at the age of 19. He played in 24 games and finished with a batting average of .150.
Gonzalez had to adjust to the MLB during the 1992 season, and he made some major improvements. That season he established himself as a hitter and had a .260 batting average with 43 home runs, which led the American League. He won a Silver Slugger award at the end of the season. The success continued for Gonzalez throughout his career.
During the 1993 season, Gonzalez led the American League in home runs for the second straight season with 46. He was named to his first all-star team that season as well and won another Silver Slugger award. Gonzalez was on the right track, and his game was improving each season.
Juan Gonzalez playing at a high-level
Gonzalez had one of his best seasons in 1996. He hit .314, which was a career-high for him at the time, and he hit 47 home runs with 144 RBIs. His performance during the season led him to win the American League MVP award. Two seasons later, he won his second American League MVP award in 1998. That season he led the American League in doubles (50) and RBIs (157).
Gonzalez had a successful career playing for the Rangers. He spent his first 11 seasons playing in Texas and was a fan favorite. After the 1999 season, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers and spent one year in Detroit, and then, he signed with the Cleveland Indians after. Gonzalez had success in Cleveland being named to his third all-star team and won his sixth Silver Slugger award. He had a second stint with the Rangers toward the end of his career. He spent the 2002 and 2003 seasons with the Rangers and finished playing with the Kansas City Royals and the Indians.
Serving as manager of the Puerto Rico national team
Gonzalez finished his career with a .295 batting average hitting 434 home runs and 1,404 RBIs. He was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame after his career was done. In 2018, he was named the manager and head coach of the Puerto Rico national baseball team.
Gonzalez had success being in that role. He led his team to gold medals in 2018 and 2019. In 2018 the team won gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games, and in 2019 they won gold at the Pan American Games. Gonzalez had success as a player and continues to have success as a manager and head coach.