Vladimir Guerrero’s approach to the plate was simple: See the ball, hit the ball. The nine-time All-Star for the Expos, Angels, and Rangers (he also played for the Orioles) rarely saw a pitch that he didn’t like. With an aim toward mashing the ball every time he stepped to the plate, Guerrero swung freely and from the heels. The Dominican native used his powerful 6’-3”, 235-pound frame to produce a .553 career slugging percentage, which ranks 21st all-time and now ranks 14th among Hall of Famers between recently elected Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr.
After falling just short of election last year, Guerrero was rightfully elected for enshrinement in January. His career numbers place him in obvious HOF company. Guerrero’s 449 home runs place him 23rd among HOFers between Carl Yastrzemski and Andre Dawson. His 2,590 hits rank 60th, just ahead of Reggie Jackson, and his 1,496 RBI place him 39th, behind Mickey Mantle.
Despite his indiscriminate strike zone, Guerrero’s amazing hand-eye coordination translated to a .318 lifetime batting average. In the modern baseball era, there are only 18 players with as many plate appearances as Guerrero (9,059) to retire with a higher batting average — all 18 are HOFers. He batted .324 or higher seven times with a high of .345 (in the year 2000 with the Expos). He was also adept at sending runners home, reaching the 100-RBI total 10 times.
Guerrero was also one of the most feared hitters of his time, as pitchers often refused to pitch to him in key situations. He led the league in intentional walks five times and drew 250 automatic base on balls, ranking fifth on the all time list.
He took American League MVP honors in 2004 (his first season with the Angels), batting .337 with 39 home runs and 126 RBI while slugging at a .598 clip. Guerrero also led the league in runs, hits, and total bases at one time or another, while claiming for straight Silver Slugger awards and top 10 MVP finishes from 2004-2007. He also displayed a cannon of an arm as a right fielder known for keeping runners at bay. Although sometimes erratic on the base paths, Guerrero stole 181 bases during his career, including a high of 40 in 2002.
Rather than joining Dawson, Gary Carter, and Tim Raines enshrined as Montreal Expos, Guerrero becomes the first to enter Cooperstown with an Angels cap.