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Vladimir Guerrero

Vladimir Guerrero playing RF for the Los Angeles Angels in 2007
Texas Rangers — No. 27
Designated Hitter/Right Fielder
Born: February 9, 1975 (1975-02-09) (age 35)
Nizao, Dominican Republic
Bats: Right Throws: Right 
MLB debut
September 19, 1996 for the Montreal Expos
Career statistics
(through September 23, 2009)
Batting average     .322
Hits     2242
Home runs     407
Runs batted in     1315
On-base plus slugging     .956
Stolen bases     175
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Vladimir Guerrero (born February 9, 1975, in Don Gregorio, Nizao, Dominican Republic) (known in his native Dominican Republic as Miquéas, Spanish for Micah) is a Major League Baseball right fielder for the Texas Rangers. In 2004, he was voted the American League MVP. He helped lead the Angels to five American League West championships (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009), and was voted as one of the most feared hitters in baseball in a 2008 poll of all 30 major league managers.[2]

An eight-time All Star, he is widely recognized as one of the best all-around players in the game because of his impressive offensive production (regularly hitting for power and average), and stellar defense (which is highlighted by one of the strongest throwing arms in baseball). He is also regarded as the game's premier "bad ball hitter," for his ability to consistently hit balls thrown well outside of his strike zone, a skill made evident in a game a number of years ago when Guerrero hit a pitch which bounced in front of home plate.

Contents

Early years and family

One of nine children, Guerrero is the younger brother of ex-major leaguer Wilton Guerrero, who also played with the Montreal Expos. He is also the cousin of current minor leaguer Cristian Guerrero of the Harrisburg Senators.

His 6'3" frame, strong arm, and unusual ability to hit balls out of the strike zone drew attention at a Dodgers training camp. After injuring his hamstring running out a double, Vladimir allegedly hit a home run in his next at-bat to avoid having to run the bases. Due to his leg condition, Guerrero only received a 30-day contract. But he grew frustrated with the structure of the Dodgers camp, and left. In March 1993, Guerrero signed with the Montreal Expos. During the process he lied about his age, claiming to be born February 9, 1976. It wasn't until March 2009 that he revealed to Major League Baseball that he was born February 9, 1975.[3]

In 1994, Guerrero hit .314 in 37 games with the Expos' Rookie League team. The next year he hit .333 with the Albany Polecats. In 1996, while advancing from Single-A to Double-A, Guerrero batted .360 with 24 home runs and 96 RBI.[4] His September callup was unproductive, although he hit his first major league home run.

MLB career

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Montreal Expos

Guerrero was signed by the Montreal Expos as an amateur free agent from the Harrisburg Senators in 1993 and eventually made his major league debut on September 19, 1996.

Vladimir was criticized during his first season in 1997 (he'd played 9 games in 1996) for being too aggressive at the plate. Nonetheless, he put up solid numbers for a rookie, batting .302 with 11 HRs and 40 RBI in just 325 at-bats.

Scorn for Guerrero's free-swinging ways changed into admiration in 1998. While he continued to swing at pitches that were clearly balls, he also continued to hit them with authority. In one instance, Guerrero got a base hit off a pitch that bounced before arriving at home plate. Guerrero's superior hand-eye coordination and prodigious strength allowed him to be unusually aggressive at the plate, but still put up high batting averages year after year. Despite his freeswinging style, Guerrero has never struck out 100 times in any season.

Guerrero batted .324 with 38 HRs and 109 RBI in 1998. Before the end of the 1998 season, Guerrero agreed to a $28 million deal.[5] Guerrero represented the Expos at the 1999 All-Star Game. During the 1999 season,Guerrero maintained a 31 game hitting streak‚ the longest in the majors in 12 years.[6] He finished 1999 with 131 RBI, and in 2000, he hit 44 home runs; both figures remain career highs.

He posted similar or slightly improved numbers through the 2002 season. He also developed a running game, stealing 37 bases in 2001. In 2002, he stole a career-high 40 bases, and fell one home run short of becoming the fourth member of the "40-40 Club." However, he hit 30+ home runs and stole 30+ bases in both 2001 and 2002 (see 30-30 club).

Vlad at bat vs. the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, August 28, 2005.

Guerrero's 2003 season was shortened due to a back injury. In 394 at-bats, he hit .330 with 25 HRs and 79 RBIs. Because of the injury, some in the media thought signing him would be a risk. While he was playing injured, though, he still managed to hit for the cycle on September 14, 2003.

Anaheim Angels/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Guerrero was a free agent for the first time after the 2003 season, and he signed a five year, $70 million deal with the then-Anaheim Angels after being courted by several teams. The owner of the Angels, Arte Moreno, is the first Latino controlling owner of a Major League ballclub, and Guerrero has cited Moreno's Latin heritage as a motivating factor for choosing the Angels over other teams.[7] He currently lives in Anaheim Hills, California.

During his first season with Angels, Guerrero led his club, and in some cases the American League (AL), in several offensive categories, including 124 runs (set new club record and led the AL), 366 total bases (tied club record and led AL), and a season ending batting average of .337 (set a new club record), which led to Guerrero being voted the Gene Autry Trophy (Team MVP) by his teammates. After making his fifth MLB All-Star game appearance in July, Guerrero continued his offensive dominance in September, earning American League Player of the Month after batting .371 with 24 runs scored, six doubles, a triple, 10 home runs and 23 RBI. Guerrero was clutch down the stretch. Over the final seven games of the season, his 10 runs, six home runs and 11 RBI helped the Angels overcome a 3-game deficit, which ultimately led to an American League West Division Crown.

Down the stretch of the 2004 MLB season, Guerrero was impressive. Mike Scioscia, the Angels manager, said that Guerrero "really carried us on his back" in the last month of the season, as the Angels overtook first place from the faltering Oakland Athletics who finished the season one game behind in the standings. Guerrero hit six home runs in his last six games of the 2004 regular season, leading the Angels to their first Western Division title since 1986 (The Angels won the 2002 World Series as the American League Wild Card). These late-season heroics led to Guerrero being chosen as the 2004 AL MVP. In the opening best-of-5 round of the playoffs, the Angels were swept by the Boston Red Sox, and Guerrero had an odd batting line: just a .167 average, but six RBIs in three games.The Angels won the Western Division again in 2005, with Guerrero batting .317 with 32 home runs and 108 RBIs in 520 at bats. Late in the season, Guerrero became the 12th player to hit his 300th home run before the age of 30 (along with Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Harmon Killebrew, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Juan González, and Andruw Jones, who achieved the mark about the same time as Guerrero).

Guerrero had an up-and-down 2005 postseason, batting .389 in ALDS victory over the New York Yankees, but just .050 in the ALCS against the eventual world champion Chicago White Sox. He fared better in a national TV ad for Pepsi with the Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez; the two engaged in a personal home run competition that ended up with the moon being broken. Guerrero also appeared at Game Four of the 2005 World Series, where he was introduced as a member of Major League Baseball's Latino Legends Team.

Guerrero recorded his 1000th career RBI on July 15, 2006 at home against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Making his 8th Major League Baseball All-Star game appearance, Guerrero subsequently won his first career Home Run Derby in the 2007 season, highlighted by a 503-foot home run. He is the third Angel to win the Derby (after Wally Joyner in 1986, and Garret Anderson in 2003). Guerrero was chosen for the All-Star Game in each of his first four seasons with the Angels (2004–2007). Guerrero's stellar fielding talent dwindled in the later 2000s due to age and injuries, prompting the long-time outfielder to be reassigned as a designated hitter at the start of the 2009 season.[8]

It has been suggested that Guerrero's signing with the Angels has helped lengthen his career, as many of his early career injuries were attributable to playing on the hard artificial surface at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The Angels exercised the option year on Guerrero's contract for 2009; he earned $15 million that year.

In 2009, Guerrero was named # 37 on the Sporting News' list of the 50 greatest current players in baseball. A panel of 100 baseball people, many of them members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and winners of major baseball awards, was polled to arrive at the list.[1]

On August 10, Guerrero hit his 400th career home run off Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Russ Springer.[9] On August 26, he recorded his 1,000th career hit as an Angel, a single off Detroit Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson. This hit made Guerrero only the second player (Dave Winfield being the first) to record 1,000 hits as a National League player and as an American league player.

On October 11, 2009, Guerrero hit a two-run RBI single to score Bobby Abreu and Chone Figgins off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth-inning. The single gave the Angels a 7-6 lead and eventually the win to finally advance to the ALCS and beat the Boston Red Sox for the first time ever in postseason history. It was called "the biggest hit in Vlad's career."

2009 was the first time that Guerrero had a batting average below .300 (.295), an OPS below .800 (.794), or a doubles total less than 20 (16).

Free Agency

After the 2009 season Guerrero filed for free agency for the first time since 2003.[10]. It was uncertain with whom Guerrero would sign because of his age, recent injuries and declining performance. Baseball Prospectus wrote about the risks involved in signing Guerrero: "He's lost what little patience he developed over the years, and has become more hacktastic with time's passing. Guerrero had a pretty amazing 10-year run, but if you're looking for any of that when you go to sign him this winter, then you're going to get what you deserve. He's good. He still has his uses—healthy and as a full-time DH, many AL clubs could use his services—but banking on that at this stage may be foolhardy."[11]

Texas Rangers

On January 11, 2010, Guerrero signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal with incentives and a 2011 option with the Texas Rangers.[12]

Batting style

Guerrero bats without wearing batting gloves, a custom rarely seen in modern baseball. In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, he attributed this to helping his grandfather pull cows home barehanded as a young boy in the Dominican Republic. To improve his grip on the bat, he coats his helmet with pine tar and simply rubs his helmet before going into the on-deck circle. As the season progresses, his batting helmet becomes covered in the substance. This is particularly noticeable with the bright red helmet of the Angels.

Guerrero batted over .300 from 1997-2008. He has driven in over 100 runs in every season but 2003 and 2008. Along with his 2004 MVP season, he has finished 6th (2000), 4th (2002), 3rd (2005), 9th (2006), and 3rd (2007) in MVP voting.

In 2008, Guerrero tied Lou Gehrig's mark for most consecutive seasons with at least 25 home runs and a batting average of .300 or better with 11. He also swung at a higher percentage of pitches outside the strike zone, 45.5%, than any other hitter in major league baseball.[2]

He had a 44-game hitting streak exclusively against the Texas Rangers from 2004–06, the longest such player-vs.-team streak in MLB history since 1969.[6] The streak occurred over his first 44 appearances against the Rangers. Guerrero has decimated Ranger pitching over his career, putting up a career batting line of .395/.466/.681 with 22 HR, 29 Doubles and 63 RBI in 87 games.

His nickname among peers and commentators is "Vladdy." He has also been called "Vlad the Impaler," "Big Daddy Vladdy," "Bad Vlad," "Super Vlad,", and "Vladiator"

Former Angels broadcaster Rex Hudler, commenting on Guerrero's personal strike zone, often says "From his nose to his toes, that's how Vladdy goes."

During the 2009 post-season, Cal Ripken Jr. commented during a TBS post-game report that Guerrero was "the best bad-ball hitter he's ever seen."

Vladimir and the Dominican Republic

He was named to the Dominican Republic's roster for the inaugural World Baseball Classic, although he eventually withdrew due to the death of three cousins in a car accident immediately before the tournament. He has provided several job opportunities in his hometown in the Dominican Republic through his business ventures: a cement-block factory, a propane distributorship, a supermarket, a livestock and vegetable farm, and a women's clothing store.

Awards and honors

  • 1995 - Montreal Expos Minor League Player of the Year
  • 1995 - South Atlantic League All-Star OF
  • 1996 - Eastern League MVP
  • 1996 - AA Player of the Year
  • 1996 - Montreal Expos Minor League Player of the Year
  • 1996 - Baseball America 1st team Minor League All-Star OF
  • 1996 - Double-A All-Star OF
  • 1996 - Eastern League All-Star OF
  • 1996 - Eastern League Rookie of the Year
  • 1997 - NL Rookie of the Year (Voting Rank: #6)
  • 1998 - Baseball America Second-Team Major League All-Star RF
  • 1998 - Montreal Expos Player of the Year
  • 1999 - Played in MLB All-Star Game
  • 1999 - Baseball America Second-Team Major League All-Star OF
  • 1999 - Montreal Expos Player of the Year
  • 1999 - NL Silver Slugger Award (OF)
  • 2000 - Baseball America First-Team Major League All-Star OF
  • 2000 - NL Silver Slugger Award (OF)
  • 2000 - Montreal Expos Player of the Year
  • 2000 - Played in MLB All-Star Game
  • 2001 - Montreal Expos Player of the Year
  • 2001 - Played in MLB All-Star Game
  • 2002 - Played in MLB All-Star Game
  • 2002 - NL Silver Slugger Award (OF)
  • 2002 - Won a World Series Title with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • 2004 - American League Most Valuable Player
  • 2004 - Baseball America First-Team Major League All-Star OF
  • 2004 - Anaheim Angels Player of the Year
  • 2004 - Played in MLB All-Star Game
  • 2004 - AL Silver Slugger Award (OF)
  • 2005 - Baseball America Second-Team Major League All-Star OF
  • 2005 - Los Angeles Angels Player of the Year
  • 2005 - Played in MLB All-Star Game
  • 2005 - AL Silver Slugger Award (OF)
  • 2006 - Played in MLB All-Star Game
  • 2006 - Los Angeles Angels Player of the Year
  • 2006 - AL Silver Slugger Award (OF)
  • 2007 - AL Silver Slugger Award (OF)
  • 2007 - Los Angeles Angels Player of the Year
  • 2007 - Played in MLB All-Star Game
  • 2007 - Major League 2nd All-Star (end of season) RF

Career statistical highlights

League Top-Ten

  • Top 10 in MVP (2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007)
  • Top 10 in AVG (1998, 2000, 2002–2007)
  • Top 10 in Home Runs (1998–2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007)
  • Top 10 in RBI (1999, 2000, 2002–2007)
  • Top 10 in Slugging Percentage (1998–2000, 2002–2008)
  • Top 10 in OBA (2002–2005, 2007)
  • Top 10 in OPS (1999, 2000, 2002–2008)
  • Top 10 in Hits (1998–2002, 2004, 2006)
  • Top 10 in Runs (2002, 2004)
  • Top 10 in Stolen Bases (2001, 2002)

See also

References

  1. ^ Originally the Anaheim Angels
  2. ^ Stark, Jayson (2008-04-24). "Identifying the most feared hitter in the bigs". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&page=rumblings/080424. 
  3. ^ Brown, Tim (6 Mar 2009), "Angels’ Guerrero is a year older than listed", Yahoo! Sports, http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ti-vladage030609&prov=yhoo&type=lgns 
  4. ^ "Vladimir Guerrero Statistics (Minor Leagues)". http://minors.baseball-reference.com/players.cgi?pid=5922. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  5. ^ "Vladimir Guerrero Biography". JockBio. http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/Vlad/Vlad_bio.html. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  6. ^ a b "Vladimir Guerrero from the Chronology". BaseballLibrary.com. http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Vladimir_Guerrero_1976&page=chronology. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (2004-01-14). "Slugger will receive $5M signing bonus". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1706614. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  8. ^ Baxter, Kevin (2009-04-13). "Mike Scioscia believes umpires acted unjustly". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-angels-fyi13-2009apr13,0,6505257.story. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  9. ^ http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2009/08/angels-guerrero-slams-400th-career-home-run-.html
  10. ^ http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4558550&name=arangure_jorge_jr&addata=2009_insdr_mod_mlb_xxx_xxx&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fespn%2fblog%2findex%3fentryID%3d4558550%26name%3darangure_jorge_jr%26addata%3d2009_insdr_mod_mlb_xxx_xxx
  11. ^ Normandin, Marc (November 29, 2009). ""So You Need: Power"". Baseball Prospectus. http://baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9803. 
  12. ^ Guerrero joins Rangers' lineup

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Sammy Sosa
Mark McGwire
Greg Vaughn
Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds
National League Player of the Month
July 1998
August 1999
April 2000
April 2002
August 2003
Succeeded by
Jeff Kent
Greg Vaughn
Todd Helton
Todd Helton
Jim Thome
Preceded by
Ichiro Suzuki
American League Player of the Month
September 2004
Succeeded by
Brian Roberts
Preceded by
Alex Rodriguez
American League Most Valuable Player
2004
Succeeded by
Alex Rodriguez
Preceded by
Garret Anderson
American League Silver Slugger Award
2004–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Ryan Howard
Home Run Derby Champion
2007
Succeeded by
Justin Morneau

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