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Top 10 moments of Vlad Guerrero's career

@goodforball
October 13, 2020

If a pitcher rolled a baseball toward Vladimir Guerrero as he stood in the batter’s box, he’d find a way to drive it into the gap. Guerrero established himself as one of the game’s finest bad-ball hitters ever during 16 seasons with the Expos, Angels, White Sox and Orioles. He

If a pitcher rolled a baseball toward Vladimir Guerrero as he stood in the batter’s box, he’d find a way to drive it into the gap.

Guerrero established himself as one of the game’s finest bad-ball hitters ever during 16 seasons with the Expos, Angels, White Sox and Orioles. He ranked among the top 10 in his league in batting eight times while capturing seven Silver Slugger Awards. The lithe outfielder, who also possessed a formidable throwing arm, was the third Dominican to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Fittingly, he’s the first hitter in that group, following right-handers Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez.

Hall calls growing for Latino players

Here’s a look at Guerrero’s top 10 moments and accomplishments:

1) An angel in baseball heaven
1996-2011

Guerrero performed slightly better for eight years as a member of the Expos (.323/.390/.588, 148 OPS+, 29.25 home runs per year) than he did for six years with the Angels (.319/.381/.546, 141 OPS+, 28.83 homers per year). But he opted to enter Cooperstown with the Angels logo on the cap on his bust, citing the faith that Los Angeles owner Arte Moreno displayed “when he invested in me.”

2) Like father …
2019-2020

Guerrero’s son, Vladimir Jr., broke into the Majors as a third baseman in 2019 with the Toronto Blue Jays. The younger Guerrero isn’t as destructive a hitter as his father, though he ranked among the AL’s top rookies with 15 homers, 69 RBIs and a .272/.339/.433 slash line in his first year.

3) Brief wait
2017-18

Guerrero barely missed election to the Hall of Fame in 2017, the first year he was eligible. He fell 15 votes short of the 332 needed to gain the minimum of 75 percent approval from the electorate. The next year, however, Guerrero stormed through the gates of Cooperstown, gaining 92.9 percent of the vote. He was named on 392 ballots, far exceeding the 317 necessary.

4) It was inevitable
2004

Given Guerrero’s prodigious talents, he was bound to win a Most Valuable Player Award at some juncture. That occurred in his first season with the Angels, when he batted .337 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs. Guerrero led the AL in runs (124) and total bases (366), helping him claim 21 of 28 first-place votes in the MVP balloting.

5) Finishing off Sox, sweep
Oct. 11, 2009

Guerrero recorded what might have been the biggest hit of his career in the ninth inning of Game 3 in this AL Division Series against the Red Sox. Guerrero drilled a two-run single off Boston relief ace Jonathan Papelbon to conclude a three-run ninth-inning rally that lifted the Angels to a 7-6 victory and completed a three-game series sweep.

6) A month of hits
July 27-Aug. 27, 1999

Guerrero sustained a 31-game hitting streak, the longest in the Major Leagues in 12 years. The Reds finally cooled Guerrero off by holding him hitless in two at-bats with an intentional walk. Guerrero finished that season with a personal-best 131 RBIs.

7) Distinguished dozen
Sept. 2, 2005

Facing Seattle’s Jamie Moyer, Guerrero became the 12th player to reach 300 home runs by age 30. The others at the time: Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Harmon Killebrew, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Juan González and Andruw Jones.

8) What a show-off
July 7, 2001

Guerrero demonstrated the accuracy, power and potential of his throwing arm. In the fifth inning of an Interleague game at Toronto, Blue Jays catcher Alberto Castillo attempted to score on Shannon Stewart’s base hit to deep right. Castillo apparently thought he could score easily, but Guerrero played the carom perfectly and unleashed a throw that reached Montreal catcher Michael Barrett on the fly. The ball, which traveled an estimated 300 feet, was awaiting Castillo as Barrett prepared to make the tag.

9) Barely missing exclusive club
2001-02

Guerrero reached baseball’s exclusive “30-30” club in back-to-back seasons, but that’s not the story. The compelling aspect of the story was how close he came to reaching the 40-40 plateau each year. Guerrero had 34 home runs and 37 stolen bases in 2001, then totaled 39 homers and 40 thefts in 2002. The 40-40 club consists solely of Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2002).

10) Playing hurt
Sept. 14, 2003

A back injury limited Guerrero to 112 games in 2003. Whenever he could manage to play, however, he performed up to his usual standards. On this date, he hit for the cycle in a 7-3 victory over the Mets.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.