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Vladimir Guerrero

Vladimir Guerrero

Position(s):
CF, OF, RF, DH, LF
Nicknames:
Vlad the Impaler
Born:
February 9, 1975
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 3"
Weight:
235 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-19-1996 with MON
Allstar Selections:
1999 SS, 2000 SS, 2002 SS, 2004 MVP, 2004 SS, 2005 SS, 2006 SS, 2007 SS, 2010 SS

Vladimir Alvino Guerrero (born February 9, 1975, in Don Gregorio, Nizao, Dominican Republic) is a Major League Baseball right fielder and designated hitter with the Baltimore Orioles.

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.

A nine-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 on August 14, 2009, when Guerrero hit a pitch which bounced in front of home plate.

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 Gary SouthShore RailCats.

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, he 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 was not until March 2009 that he revealed to Major League Baseball that he was born February 9, 1975.

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. His September callup was unproductive, although he hit his first major league home run.
MLB career
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.

He 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. 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. 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).

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.

Los Angeles Angels

Guerrero was a free agent for the first time after the 2003 season, and he signed a five year, $70 million deal with the Los Angeles 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. He currently lives in Anaheim Hills, California.

2004 MVP season

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), 13 outfield assists (T1st in AL), 366 total bases (tied club record and led AL), and a season ending batting average of .337 (3rd in AL). Second player in club history with .300/30/100 numbers. Among AL leaders, he finished in the top 10 of 20 major offensive categories, which led to Guerrero being voted the Gene Autry Trophy (Team MVP) by his teammates.Making his fifth MLB All-Star game appearance in July, he Led AL outfielders with 3,024,870 votes and was the first Angel outfielder to be a starter since Reggie Jackson in 1984.

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 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 second Angel to win the AL MVP in franchise history. He finished with 354 points, 100 more than second place finisher Gary Sheffield.

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. He would also have a grand slam in game 3.

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

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 (153 m) 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.

2009 season

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.

On August 10, Guerrero hit his 400th career home run off Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Russ Springer. 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 fourth player (Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, Fred McGriff) 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).

He set 15 team records – 10 career, 5 single season – during his tenure with the Angels.

Texas Rangers
Guerrero in 2010 spring training.

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

He broke up a no-hitter by Shawn Marcum in the seventh inning of the Opening Day game against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 5, 2010. On May 6, 2010 Guerrero hit two home runs versus the Kansas City Royals to secure a 13–12 win. On May 13, 2010 Guerrero's walk off line drive to left field won the final game of a three game series against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the twelfth. On May 25, 2010 he hit two more home runs to secure another win over the Kansas City Royals.

Guerrero wound up appearing in 152 games in the regular season for a Texas Rangers club that wound up winning its division and ultimately, the first pennant in Rangers' history. He also earned his ninth invitation to the All-Star Game. On October 22, 2010, Guerrero drove in 3 runs during game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, capturing the first American League pennant for Texas Rangers. The Rangers would go on to lose the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in five games. On November 3 the Rangers declined to pick up Guerrero's 2011 option making him a free agent.

Baltimore Orioles

On February 4, 2011, Guerrero agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles pending a physical. The deal was formally announced on February 18.

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 was 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.

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. 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," "The Voodoo King," "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." On one occasion in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, Guerrero hit a pitch that bounced in the dirt before home plate. Even more unusual, his bat struck the ground as well before hitting the ball.
[edit] Vladimir and the Dominican Republic

He was named to the Dominican Republic's roster for the 2006 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 concrete-block factory, a propane distributorship, a supermarket, a livestock and vegetable farm, and a women's clothing store.

Awards and honors

    American League Most Valuable Player (2004)
    Edgar Martínez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award (2010)
    9x MLB All-Star (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010)
    8x Silver Slugger Award winner (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010)
    2x Montreal Expos Minor League Player of the Year (1995, 1996)
    4x Montreal Expos Player of the Year (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001)
    4x Los Angeles Angels Player of the Year (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007)
    2x Baseball America First-Team Major League All-Star OF (2000, 2004)
    3x Baseball America Second-Team Major League All-Star OF (1998, 1999, 2005)
    South Atlantic League All-Star OF (1995)
    Eastern League MVP (1996)
    AA 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 (1996)

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)




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