Who Are These Guys? Cristian Guzman

The next in a series of profiles of your new Washington Nationals. Today, shortstop Cristian (no "h" in the first name) Guzman.

Cristian Guzman's Vitals

27 year old shortstop, 6-0, 195, switch hitter, throws right. Career BA .266, OBP .303, SLG .382, 39 HR, 289 RBI in six seasons.

Quick Take

A slap-hitting shortstop who is solid defensively but needs to show more patience at the plate to be effective offensively.

Guzman Rundown

At the All-Star break in 2001, Cristian Guzman was one of the game's rising stars at the age of 23. He was an excellent-fielding short stop who had the speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples as well as some occasional home run pop in his bat. A shoulder injury later in that season derailed Guzman's rise to a spot among the game's elite and now he's very close to being in the "good-field, no-hit" category of shortstops.

To quote the Baseball Prospectus on him, "You typically don't see this kind of career stagnations without invoking the name of Steven Segal."

Guzman's downfall at the plate is his utter lack of patience. Even during his All-Star season, he struck out nearly four times as often as he walked (78 K's, 21 BB's). Last year, the ratio "improved" to about two strikeouts for every walk (64-30), still a terrible performance for a batter without much power (8 HR last year).

As one would expect with the low walk totals, his on base percentage is dismal; it was just .309 last year. He doesn't bring anything in terms of stolen bases potential either with just 10 steals in 15 attempts in 2004. Given all of this, it's somewhat surprising that he's penciled in to hit second in the order.

Unless he can learn how to work the count he'll have to earn his four-year, $16.8 million contract in the field. Although he's not one of the more spectacular fielders you'll see during the season, he has good range, he doesn't bobble many balls when he gets to them and he has a strong arm.

It would be a big plus if Guzman could develop the ability to take a few more pitches, but there aren't very many cases of a batter dramatically improving his OBP at the age of 27 and seven seasons into his big-league career. Still, if he can just either get to first a little more often or gain some power he'll be a very valuable player because of his defense.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: .255 BA, .290 OBP, 5 HR
Upside: ..280 BA, .315 OBP, 12 HR

To find Cristian Guzman's career stats on Baseball-Reference.com, go to http://baseball-reference.com/g/guzmacr01.shtml

To find previous player profiles in the "Who Are These Guys?" series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at CapitolDugout.com and search for "Nationals".


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