Vladimir Guerrero wouldn't be denied for a second time after falling just short of Hall of Fame induction in his first year on the ballot.Guerrero, one of the most electrifying and unconventional hitters of his generation, was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday after appearing on
Vladimir Guerrero wouldn't be denied for a second time after falling just short of Hall of Fame induction in his first year on the ballot.
Guerrero, one of the most electrifying and unconventional hitters of his generation, was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday after appearing on 92.9 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America electorate, clearing the 75-percent threshold required for election. He debuted on the ballot with 71.1 percent last year.
• Complete Hall of Fame election results
"I feel very happy, thanks to God," Guerrero said in Spanish during a conference call. "I want to thank everyone who voted for me. Last year I was happy when I came close, and this year I feel even happier for making it into the Hall of Fame."
Guerrero will join Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris in the Class of 2018, which will be formally inducted on July 29 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Guerrero, 42, is the third player from the Dominican Republic to enter the Hall of Fame -- the first position player -- joining countrymen Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez.
"I'm so proud to have influenced his life and also his career in baseball," Martinez, Guerrero's former Expos teammate, said on MLB Network. "I'm just like an older brother that feels really proud to have given a younger brother some advice, and the advice pretty much paid off big time. I'm extremely proud. I'm celebrating over here. The entire country is celebrating."
Guerrero played most of his 16 Major League seasons as a right fielder for the Expos and the Angels, though he also had stints with the Rangers and Orioles at the end of his career. Guerrero, who spent eight seasons in Montreal and six in Anaheim, said he will wait until Thursday to reveal which team he will represent in the Hall of Fame.
"It's hard, because I enjoyed all four teams that I played for," Guerrero said. "I think sometimes it's hard to pick a cap. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
The Expos have three players -- Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines -- who are enshrined in the Hall of Fame with their cap. The Angels have none.
A five-tool talent, Guerrero finished his career with a .318/.379/.553 slash line, 449 home runs, 1,496 RBIs, 2,590 hits and 1,328 runs scored. He had a cannon for an arm and was a significant basestealing threat early in his career, swiping 181 bags -- 40 in 2002 and 37 in '01. Guerrero's resume includes nine All-Star selections and eight Silver Slugger Awards.
After leaving Montreal to sign a free-agent deal with the Angels, Guerrero captured the 2004 American League Most Valuable Player Award, batting .337/.391/.598 with 39 homers, 126 RBIs, 39 doubles and 15 stolen bases. Over the final month of that season, Guerrero hit .363/.424/.726 with 11 homers and 25 RBIs, propelling the Halos past the A's in the race for the AL West title.
"We are so excited for Vladdy and his family with today's announcement," Angels owner Arte Moreno said in a statement. "I think that sentiment is not only from our organization, but is shared with his many teammates through the years, and perhaps more importantly, his countrymen in the Dominican Republic. His six years with the Angels was arguably the most impressive stretch of team success in club history. Vlad's contributions to that performance will forever make him one of the more popular men to ever wear an Angels uniform."
Gifted with elite hand-eye coordination and the temerity to swing at any pitch, Guerrero forged a reputation as the best bad-ball hitter in the game, even collecting hits on balls that had bounced in the dirt.
Mike Scioscia, who managed Guerrero during his tenure in Anaheim, described the Dominican slugger's strike zone as extending from his "nose to his toes, literally."
"I've never been around a player that took his 'A' swing so often and swung the bat so hard, but yet squared the ball up so consistently more than Vlad," Scioscia said Tuesday in an interview with MLB Network Radio. "This guy was a machine at home plate."
Born in Nizao, a town about 45 minutes outside of Santo Domingo, Guerrero grew up in extreme poverty, drinking from puddles as a child while living in a shack that lacked electricity and running water. He stopped going to school after the fifth grade and instead harvested vegetables in the fields. In his spare time, Guerrero played baseball.
In 1991, his older brother, Wilton, was signed by the Dodgers. Vladimir Guerrero also got a look at the Dodgers' academy, though the club ultimately passed. Still, his break came two years later, when he caught the eye of Expos scout Fred Ferreira, who decided to sign the 18-year-old for $2,000.
"I'm happy that they were the team that signed me out of the Dominican," Guerrero said of the Expos. "They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues."
Despite his free-swinging tendencies, Guerrero rose quickly through the Expos' farm system and reached the Majors in September 1996. He was joined in Montreal by his mother, Altagracia Alvino, who lived with Guerrero at each of his Major League stops and prepared home-cooked Dominican meals for her son and scores of other ballplayers.
After finishing sixth on the 1997 National League Rookie of the Year Award ballot, Guerrero broke out the following season, batting .324/.371/.589 with 38 home runs, 109 RBIs and 37 doubles for the 97-loss Expos. He was rewarded with a five-year, $28 million extension and continued to deliver for Montreal, batting a combined .326/.400/.602 and averaging 37 homers and 22 steals from 1999-2003.
Still, the Expos never made the playoffs in any of Guerrero's eight seasons in Montreal, and when the slugger hit free agency, he decided to sign a five-year, $70 million contract with the Angels. Guerrero's arrival helped spark a memorable run of success for the Halos, who reached the postseason in five of his six years in Anaheim. Over that stretch, Guerrero hit .319/.381/.546 with 173 homers. He remains the franchise's leader in batting average and ranks second in slugging percentage and sixth in home runs. Last summer, the Angels inducted Guerrero into their team's Hall of Fame.
"Vladdy was the most talented and exciting player of his generation. He was a fantastic teammate and a joy to play alongside," former Angels outfielder Tim Salmon said.
In 2010, Guerrero signed a one-year deal with the Rangers and became the club's designated hitter. He went on to hit .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs, helping to spur Texas to its first World Series appearance.
"We didn't win the championship, but I was very happy with the year that I had there," Guerrero said. "In that moment, I was so happy that I threw a party in my hometown."
Guerrero capped his career with a final season in Baltimore, where he batted .290 with 13 home runs in 2011 before announcing his retirement from baseball.
While Guerrero will make history as the first Dominican hitter to enter the Hall of Fame, he doesn't expect to be the last.
"You always think that someone is going to enter before you, but I'm happy that I'm the third [Dominican] and the first position player," Guerrero said. "There have been so many Dominicans who have played in the big leagues, so I hope the number keeps growing soon with David Ortiz, [Adrian] Beltre and [Albert] Pujols. I'm happy that we can keep making our country proud."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.