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Vlad left Hall-worthy mark in 1 year with Texas

Guerrero helped Rangers reach their first World Series in 2010
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Former manager Ron Washington went right to the point in explaining what Vladimir Guerrero meant to the Rangers in 2010.

"He gave us an opportunity to experience the World Series and understand what that is," Washington said. "We already had players, but we needed a guy like Vladimir Guerrero who could make a difference. That's why he is going into the Hall of Fame, because he was a difference-maker."

ARLINGTON -- Former manager Ron Washington went right to the point in explaining what Vladimir Guerrero meant to the Rangers in 2010.

"He gave us an opportunity to experience the World Series and understand what that is," Washington said. "We already had players, but we needed a guy like Vladimir Guerrero who could make a difference. That's why he is going into the Hall of Fame, because he was a difference-maker."

Guerrero will find out on Wednesday if he has been elected to the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility. Live coverage of the 2018 Hall of Fame announcement begins at 2 p.m. CT on MLB Network, simulcast live on MLB.com, with the electees named at 5.

All signs point to that being the case, as Guerrero has received more than 90 percent of the votes publicly revealed and tracked by Ryan Thibodaux.

A candidate needs to be on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast. Guerrero received 71.7 percent in his first year of eligibility in 2017.

"To me, he is a Hall of Famer," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "I am a little sad he hasn't made it already. ... I believe he'll make it this year."

Guerrero would be the seventh Hall of Famer to have played for the Rangers, along with catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was inducted last year, and pitchers Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven, Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry and Rich Gossage.

Guerrero played only one season for the Rangers, but it was a special one for a team that went to the World Series for the first time. He was signed to a one-year contract to be their designated hitter and finished hitting .300 with 29 home runs, 115 RBIs and a .496 slugging percentage.

"Vladdy was one of the best of our generation," former teammate Michael Young said. "He absolutely torched us when he was in Anaheim. I still believe that he set the World Series wheels in motion in 2010. That legitimized us. A Hall of Fame player from a division rival chose us. We loved him. You hear 'great player, better person' all the time. But it was absolutely the case with Vladdy."

Video: Vlad's 2010 helped put Rangers back in postseason

The Rangers went into the season knowing they were close. They had finished 87-75 in 2009 for just their second winning season in nine years.

Their strength was a talented young lineup that included Young, Andrus, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis and David Murphy. But Washington and the Rangers wanted a veteran presence in the middle of the order, somebody who could get big hits and relax everybody else.

Guerrero was a free agent and was coming off a disappointing year with the Angels. He was on the disabled list twice and his 15 home runs and 50 RBIs were career lows for a full season.

But Washington -- a good judge of talent and character -- saw Guerrero as the perfect addition. The Rangers signed him on Jan. 9.

"If you look at where we had been in 2008 and 2009, the caliber of player he was, with all that playoff experience with the Angels and being an MVP, one of the pieces we needed to get to the World Series," Murphy said. "He was the perfect example and the perfect model of the way the game should be played."

The Rangers played him in right field on occasion, mainly in Interleague Play on the road. The rest of the time was spent at designated hitter and in the cleanup spot.

"Tremendous run producer," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who was the Rangers' hitting coach that year. "Smart at the plate. Knew how to hunt pitches and set pitchers up. His baseball IQ was extremely high. His hitter's IQ was off the charts. He was a professional."

Guerrero was also a quiet leader with a commanding presence. On the road, young players would gather in his hotel room and talk baseball. If there were issues in the dugout during the game, Guerrero would give a player "the stare" and order was quickly restored.

"Everybody respected him and what he brought, so they followed his lead," Washington said.

Guerrero started the season going 2-for-3 on Opening Day and had nine hits in his first 15 at-bats. He never really slowed, and the Rangers advanced to the World Series before losing to the Giants.

Guerrero went on to spend 2011 with the Orioles and then retire with Hall of Fame credentials. That should be confirmed later this week. His short but pronounced legacy with the Rangers has already been confirmed.

"Vladdy was awesome," pitcher Colby Lewis said. "He was an exceptional teammate and a great leader on the team. Huge asset and pickup that year. He made our clubhouse."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

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