Happy Birthday: Vladimir Guerrero
Sunday is Vladimir Guerrero's 39th birthday. Let us wish him a happy one while paying homage to his multiple baseball skills (with video!).
One of the more talented all-around players of the most recent past generation was Vladimir Guerrero. Sunday marks his 39th birthday, so let's celebrate his career with a quick homage to his excellent multi-tool arsenal of talent.
There was, of course, the rocket for an arm. Witness:
As far as the hit tool, Guerrero ended up batting .318 in his career, topping .300 13 of 15 seasons (excluding his 27 at-bat September in 1996). The two times he didn't top .300? He hit .295 and .290, respectively. He also never struck out more than 95 times in a season. After 1998 -- the first time he played more than 90 games -- he never struck out more than 88 times and only topped 75 twice.
Additionally, Guerrero was perhaps the best bad ball hitter we've in recent memory. He was so good -- and such a free swinger -- that of his 737 career walks, 250 were intentional. The only players in MLB history with more intentional walks were Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols and Willie McCovey.
How about the wheels? He had them before knee problems zapped 'em. He stole 37 bases in 2001 and 40 in 2002. He ended his career with 181 steals, which is pretty solid for a middle-of-the-order hitter who lost his speed in his early 30s.
And there is, finally, the power. Guerrero had immense power with that wild swing. Here's his first career homer, just for fun:
Also, the above clip provides comic relief at the expense of the color commentator. Though prospects weren't nearly as hot a topic back then as they are today, Guerrero was widely considered one of baseball's top five prospects at the time. So if Mike Matheny uses Oscar Taveras to pinch hit this September against Craig Kimbrel, will we hear a broadcaster claim he's waving the white flag? It's a great bet the answer is no.
Anyway, Vlad the Impaler would end up with 449 career homers along with 1,496 RBI and 477 doubles. His career .553 slugging percentage is 25th on the all-time list.
We'll save the Hall of Fame debates for the proper time (he's a yes for me, by the way) and instead just wish him a Happy 39th Birthday.
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