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Juan Rivera has been tearing it up in June.

Here’s his line this month versus the first two months of the season:

June: 15R 8 HR 24 RBI .615 SLG
April/May: 16R 5 HR 19 RBI .451 SLG

What has been the difference? Health. As Mike Scioscia correctly put it “The only time we saw him play everyday was in 2006.” Indeed after breaking his leg, Rivera was written off in most fantasy circles and if he was a point of discussion it was only in AL-Only or really really deep leagues. That has changed with his recent hot streak and strong bill of health in 2009.

For those people in leagues where Rivera is still available you have to take a serious look at him. He is hitting a home run once every 19 at-bats this season and proved that wasn’t a fluke when he hit a home run once every 19 at bats in the second half of last year. Even the one year that Scioscia claims we got to see him everyday, Rivera only recorded 124 games and 448 at bats. He turned that into 23 home runs or (you guessed it!) one home run every 19 at bats.

So while the June hot streak can’t be expected to continue, as long as Rivera is healthy he’s worth owning. He has played in 66 out of a possible 74 games this season and unlike seasons past where players like Garrett Anderson, Darin Erstad, Reggie Willits, or Gary Matthews Jr. would steal some starts from him it’s clear that Rivera’s bat in the lineup gives the Angels the best chance to win. If he takes 6 games off the rest of the season and keeps his current pace Rivera would finish with 30 home runs.

Given that he was only recently moved to the middle of the lineup and that Vladimir Guerrero has been confused with David Eckstein so far this season, Rivera might see improvement in his run scoring and RBI production too. Sometimes former Yankees feel older than they really are, but this guy is still in the prime of his career at age 31. Instead of trying to ask why he’s been so good, perhaps the question you should ask is why not?

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2 Responses to The New Juan Gone

  1. Dave says:

    Juan Gonzalez was my brother's favorite player growing up, except for maybe George Brett. I remember when Juan Gone cried after getting his 100th and 101st RBI before the All-Star break sometime in the late 90's. The guy was a beast.

  2. Schruender says:

    And all this time I thought there was no crying in baseball…

    I remember watching that game it was the game of the week on ESPN I believe.

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