Vladimir GuerreroVladimir Guerrero
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2018
Primary team: LA/California Angels
Primary position: Right Fielder
He was a throwback to a different era, when batting gloves were shunned and pine tar was a badge of honor.
Vladimir Guerrero wasn’t about style points. What he left behind in substance, however, was a legacy of power and production.
Born Feb. 9, 1975 in Nizao, Dominican Republic, Guerrero played baseball barefoot as a youth, using a stick for a bat and lemons wrapped in rags for balls. He was signed by the Expos at age 18, and quickly established himself as one of baseball’s top prospects.
After hitting .360 en route to the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player Award in Double-A Harrisburg in 1996, Guerrero was rated the game’s No. 2 prospect by Baseball America heading into 1997 and drew comparisons to Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente by veteran major leaguers.
Guerrero hit .302 with 11 homers and 40 RBI in 90 games in 1997 with Montreal, he emerged onto the national scene in 1998 with a .324 average, 38 home runs and 109 RBI as the Expos starting right fielder.
“I couldn’t blow (a fastball) by him, so I’d use my curve and my changeup,” said future Hall of Famer (and Guerrero’s teammate in Montreal) Pedro Martinez after facing Guerrero as a youngster in the Dominican League. “I tried (the fastball) a couple times, but he was right on it.”
In his seven full seasons with the Expos, Guerrero averaged 33 home runs, 100 RBI and 173 hits, coming within one home run in 2002 of reaching the 40/40 mark in home runs and stolen bases. He signed with the Angels as a free agent following the 2003 season, and in 2004 won the American League Most Valuable Player Award after hitting 39 home runs, driving in 126 runs and leading the AL in runs scored (124) and total bases (366).
A notorious bad-ball hitter and free swinger, Guerrero nonetheless never struck out more than 95 times in any season. Without the use of batting gloves and with pine tar covering his bat and helmet, Guerrero seemed able to hit virtually any pitch with authority.
Of all the players in baseball history with at least 449 career home runs, only Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Mel Ott struck out less frequently that Guerrero.
“He’s just one of those special hitters,” said Hall of Famer Bobby Cox when he was managing the Braves. “I don’t know that anything ever worked with him.”
Guerrero played six seasons with the Angels before finishing his career with stints in Texas and Baltimore. He retired following the 2011 season with a .318 career batting average, 449 home runs, 1,496 RBI and 2,590 hits. He was named to nine All-Star Games, won eight Silver Slugger Awards and led his league in assists twice as an outfielder. His 31-game hitting streak in 1999 remains tied for 25th on the all-time list.
Year Inducted: 2018
Primary Team: LA/California Angels
Position Played: Right Fielder
Birth place: Nizao. Dominican Republic
Birth year: 1975
Montreal Expos (1996-2003)
LA/California Angels (2005-2009)
Texas Rangers (2010)
Baltimore Orioles AL (2011)
|CAREER AT A GLANCE|
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