Washington Nationals Legacy: Is Vladimir Guerrero A First Ballot HOF?
By Ricky Keeler
In our latest Washington Nationals legacy piece, we examine whether former Montreal Expos outfielder Vladimir Guerrero should be a first ballot Hall Of Famer?
A couple of days ago, our first Washington Nationals legacy piece took a look at Tim Raines and how the former Montreal Expos outfielder should get in the Hall Of Fame with this being his final year on the ballot. Today, we take a look at another former Montreal Expo who is on the ballot for the first time, Vladimir Guerrero.
At 6:00 p.m ET on MLB Network, it will be announced who will be voted into the Hall Of Fame by the BBWAA. A player needs at least 75% of the vote to be inducted into Cooperstown. If you go by the votes that have been made public, Guerrero is at 71.5% right now (according to Ryan Thibodaux).
Guerrero signed with the Montreal Expos back in 1993. From 1996-2003, he was excellent for the Expos. The right-handed hitting right fielder hit 234 home runs, drove in 702 runs, and had a batting average of .323.
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Since the Washington Nationals and Montreal Expos share records, Guerrero is technically the franchise leader in batting average, home runs, and slugging percentage (.588). Plus, he is third in triples (34) and third in on-base percentage (.390). That .390 OBP is one point behind Raines for second place.
From 1998-2002, Guerrero played in at least 150 games every single season. During that time frame, he had over 30 home runs and drove in 100+ runs in each of those five seasons. He won the Silver Sluuger award in three of those seasons (1999-2000 and 2002).
If you want to look for Guerrero’s best season in a Expo uniform, look no further than 2002. In his second to last season in Montreal, he led the National League in hits (206), had a .336 batting average, a .417 on-base percentage, hit 39 home runs, and drove in 111 runs.
While Montreal finished with a over .500 record that season (83-79), Guerrero finished fourth in the MVP voting behind Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols, and Barry Bonds (also on the ballot). During his career in Montreal, the Expos only had three season in which they had a record over .500 and they never made the postseason.
To me, what stood out about Guerrero in his career was his strong arm out in right field. Teams were always afraid to run on him and if they did, he made them pay. He finished in the top four in assists in the NL or AL ten times and led in that category three times (according to Baseball Reference).
After the 2003 season, Guerrero played eight more seasons (six with the Angels and one with the Rangers and Orioles). In his first season with the Angels, Guerrero won the AL MVP by having 124 runs, hitting 39 home runs with 126 RBI’s, had a .337 average, and a .391 on-base percentage.
Now, Guerrero never got to the postseason with the Expos. But, when he got a chance to play on the big stage, he delivered. In 44 postseason games, he hit .263 with 20 RBI’s. His two-run single in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS helped the Angels sweep the Boston Red Sox.
On my IBWAA Hall Of Fame Ballot, I voted for Guerrero and I believe he is a first ballot Hall of Famer. He was one of the better power hitters of his time, had a strong arm in the outfield, and he was a hitters pitchers hated facing because he would swing at anything.
My favorite Guerrero stat has to be the intentional walks. While Bonds gets all the attention for all the times managers chose to intentionally walk him, Guerrero is right up there. With Montreal, he was intentionally walked 130 times (franchise record). In addition, he is fifth all-time in that category (250), trailing Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Pujols, and Bonds.
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With so many ballots not yet revealed, it’s tough to tell whether Guerrero will be inducted in his first year on the ballot. Even if the writers decide not to vote for Guerrero this year, he should be a Hall Of Famer at some point.