Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Cesar Izturis, 2009 Upper Deck #991
Gonzalez at least has enough pop in his bat to keep him hovering around a league-average OPS+ in his best years. He's peaked at 23 home runs twice, most recently in 2010. But he doesn't hit for a high average (.247 career), and doesn't walk enough to bridge the gap. His on-base percentage has not cleared .300 since 2007, and is down to .291 for his career. At age 35, it's not likely to improve.
But Cesar's so-called offensive numbers make Gonzalez look like Honus Wagner. The 5'9" Venezuelan has a career OPS+ of 64, and his high-water mark was 88...in 2004. With a career average of .255 and OBP of .295, he's actually slightly ahead of Alex. But a complete lack of power is his ultimate undoing. In 1,185 games spanning 11 seasons, he's hit a total of 15 home runs. That would match the total that Gonzalez hit in 149 games for the Braves last season. Izturis, too, is no spring chicken, as he'll turn 32 before Opening Day. He's also something of a health risk, having missed 48 games in 2009 and well over 100 last year with injuries.
Of course, Cesar did bring some value to the O's in his two-plus seasons with the team. His glove skills at shortstop were a breath of fresh air following the range-challenged tenure of Miguel Tejada and the bumblings of Miggi's various would-be replacements in 2008. And I'll always remember witnessing his wall-scraping two-run homer that put the exclamation point on a 10-5 Opening Day win over the Yankees. It was an improbable way for Izzy to debut in Baltimore, especially considering that he would hit only 2 more home runs in 281 subsequent games with the O's. Speaking of which, the last of those longballs came against Cliff Lee in July 2010! As a popular blog often says, you can't predict baseball.