My brothers favourite player growing up was always Vladimir Guerrero. That was our thing, I always cheered for the Blue Jays, and my brothers team was the Expos.
There were two skills more than anything about Guerrero’s game that really made him stand out amongst his peers. The first was obviously how great a hitter he was with his amazing combination of hitting for both contact and power.
Plenty of players come around who hit for AVG but have little power. And vice versa, there have been many a power hitter (especially in today’s homer happy game) who can’t hit worth beans when it comes to AVG. Guerrero’s lifetime .318 AVG ranks 55th all-time. And of the 54 players on that list ahead of him, only five (Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Stan Musial) have more home runs.
The second thing about his game that separated Guerrero from the rest of the pack was how strong his arm was in right field. As fans, we enjoy watching big league players because of their super-human talents that allow them to do things we could only ever dream of doing. To watch Guerrero throw a baseball from right field was one of those rare sights. I mean, how many big league outfielders can launch a ball from the warning track to home plate on one hop to nail the runner?
Guerrero is also the last great Expo in a long line of exceptional players who played in Montreal. After so many of Montreal’s best players from the 90’s had moved on to other teams, whether it be Larry Walker, John Wetteland, Moises Alou, or Pedro Martinez (just to name a few), Expos fans needed something special to cheer for. That special someone was Guerrero, who from 1996 to 2003 almost single-handedly kept the Expos relevant.
We all know what kind of player Guerrero was, but if you’re wondering what kind of person he is, let me finish up with this story. My brother (Matthew) was lucky enough to be at the MLB All-Star game festivities last July in Miami. While strolling through the hotel lobby, Matt spots his baseball hero, Vladimir Guerrero. He approaches the 9-time all-star, and begins to tell him how big an Expos fan he is and that Guerrero was his favourite player ever. Matt then mentions he has his Guerrero Expos jersey upstairs, and if he could just go grab it and bring it down for Guerrero to sign, it would mean the world to him. Guerrero says “no problem”. As my brother heads up to his room to retrieve his prized Guerrero jersey (on the 22nd floor mind you), Vladdy, the gentleman that he is, waits in the lobby. Upon returning with the jersey, Guerrero kindly signs it and also takes a photo with my brother.
Vladimir Guerrero…a class act all the way, and now in the Hall of Fame where he belongs.