Think back four years in Astros history. The team was coming off of the first of three consecutive 100-loss seasons. Jeff Luhnow was in his inaugural season as the GM, and was preparing to draft first overall. Anyone looking at the roster could tell that the rebuild was in full swing. It was a hodgepodge of Quad-A players, former highly drafted prospects looking for another shot, a few guys that looked like they had some promise, and Carlos Lee. Out of that motley crew only four players from 2012 remain on the roster in 2016. One of those still around is Marwin Gonzalez.
Marwin was drafted in the Rule 5 draft by the Red Sox and immediately traded to the Astros before the 2012 season. In his first two years with the club he provided infield depth for the big league team, and also spent some time in the minors. In 2014 he handled a larger role for the team. Not only did he play in 56 full games, he played all over the field. He had games at every infield position and both corner outfield spots. He also provided some value with his bat, posting a .327 OBP and a wRC+ of 107.
With an early injury to Jed Lowrie in 2015, Marwin went from a good bench/role player to everyday starter. As first baseman Chris Carter struggled in the middle of the season he also got some starts at that position, or at third base when Luis Valbuena would play first. He set career highs in games (120), batting average (.279), and OPS (.759). One of the biggest surprises from him in 2015 was the power. He doubled his highest previous output by hitting 12 homers, and added 18 doubles for a .442 slugging percentage. He did all of this while providing positive defensive numbers over five different positions.
Marwin will be a big part of the Astros plans this season. For a team that aspires to go far in the postseason, a player with his skills is a must. An above-average bat that can play multiple spots on the field is more than a luxury.
A.J. Hinch and his staff will find a way to get playing time for Marwin. He is a switch hitter, and has shown a good ability to hit left-handed pitching. That makes him a good bat to have on the bench in the late innings. Aside from that he will get plenty of starts providing days off for the rest of the infield. And if a player should happen to make a trip to the DL (which always seems to happen) he will be more than able to fill-in during that time. I don't see Marwin posting numbers higher than 2015, but there is no reason he couldn't equal them. And who knows, he may have more surprises in store.