Ten days ago, Vladimir Guerrero gave in to the inevitable. Nearly two years after he played his final game, he announced his retirement.
Guerrero was with the Orioles for the 2011 season. He was their designated hitter and did nothing else. Guerrero couldn’t play the field for their games at National League parks.
His inflexibility caused manager Buck Showalter to avoid using a fulltime designated hitter, hoping he could rotate players there.
His last game was the thrilling win over the Red Sox in the last game of the season. By then, it was a foregone conclusion he wouldn’t be back.
Andy MacPhail signed him to a cut-rate contract just before spring training, saying there wasn’t such a thing as a bad one-year deal.
Guerrero hit decently, .290, but never walked. He had just 17. His homers (13) and RBIs (63) were far below his prime. Late in his time with the Orioles, Guerrero, who refused to publicly speak English, he set the record for most career hits by a Dominican-born player.
He finished with 2,590 hits, had an excellent .318 career batting average with 449 home runs. Guerrero had eight seasons with 30 or more home runs, 10 years with 100 or more RBIs. At one time, he could run, stealing 77 bases in 2001-02 and had a fine arm.
Guerrero played his prime years with Montreal and Anaheim, and by the time he got to Baltimore, he was playing on fumes.
His statistics compare favorably with some Hall of Famers: Jim Rice, Duke Snider, Willie Stargell and Billy Williams.
Guerrero may not be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but he’ll get some support.