Vladimir Guerrero, or “Big Daddy Vladdy” as he was affectionatly know in Anaheim throughout his amazing six year tenure as an Angel. Before his time with the Angels, Guerrero was already an explosive force in baseball with the Montreal Expos. Now in his second year round of Hall of Fame voting Vladdy sees himself on the verge of immortaliztion in Cooperstown. Will 2018 be the year he puts his final stamp on the MLB historybooks?
Former LA Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero is, in himself, a history lesson. A one of a kind player who was the ultimate throwback to baseball temperament of days past, playing the game with a loud, ferocious pride. His bat a simple extension of the power he carried not only to the plate, but throughout his everyday life. In his career, Guerrero was a star for the Montreal Expos, a team now existent only within the archives of baseball history, and the Los Angeles of Anaheim.
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Vladimir Guerrero captured the love of not only two cities, but an entire nation.
It wasn’t all work for the young Vladimir. Growing up with a large family that also included Major League infielder Wilton Guerrero, Vladimir would often take to the streets for a game of stickball. In stickball the ball isn’t thrown to the hitter, but rolled to him; thus became the development of the famous saying “from his noes to his toes”.
Imagine that, the baseball in his DNA sparking into life while swinging at the first ball rolled towards him. Imagine the young Vladimir Guerrero pounding that ball into the atmosphere as his friends stood silent, jaws agape, marveling at the moonshot off the bat of their friend Vladimir.
No one in baseball has a strike-zone like Vladimir Guerrero; not in his rookie year of 1996 or today in 2017. Eventually this childhood pastime of Guerrero would develop into the legendary plate-coverage that birthed the famous phrase “a strike zone from his nose to his toes”.
It doesn’t come as a surprise to see how the young Vladimir Guerrero grew into a future Hall of Fame contender with such strong parallels between his success and upbringing, but it’s a wonder all the same.
In that rookie season Vladimir finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting with his .302/.350/.483 slash line and 11 HR’s in 90 games played; a promising entry into the MLB. In ’98 he exploded into stardom, hitting .324 with a SLG% that bordered on 600 (.589). Vladimir hit for 38 HR and 109 RBIs, and sneakily pulled together 7 triples (the 2nd highest total of his career).
Every year was a lot of the same for Vladimir, and that was as great for baseball as anything could be. From 1999 to 2003, Vladimir hit well over .300; his highest being .345 in 2000 and lowest at .307 in 2001. By 2002 he was such a feared hitter that opposing pitchers intentionally walked him 32 times. For 4 seasons straight, with the Expos, Vladimir was intentionally walked over 20 times.
After his 2003 season Vladimir was a free agent signed with the Angels for 5 years, a place where he could finally reach milestones he was only on the brink of achieving with the Expos. In his first season with the Angels, in 2004, Vladimir Guerrero finally surpassed all others in the AL for MVP with 39 HR’s, 206 hits, and 129 RBI’s. Not only did he find personal achievement, but milestones for his team as the Angels went on to claim the AL West.
Vladimir claimed 4 straight All-Stars Silver Sluggers, and MVP top 10 finishes from 2004 to 2007. A very storied career for a very storied baseball player.
Now, in his second year of HoF voting it seems as if Vladimir is almost a lock for Cooperstown. In his first year Vladimir collected 71% of the vote required to enter Cooperstown. The minimum vote required is 75%, and given his high debut and the fact that every year the HoF voters become more favorable towards repeat ballots it seems all but certain Vladimir will enter the gloried ranks of the MLB Hall of Fame.
The only question that remains is; Will he be in as an Angel or an Expo?