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Vladimir Guerrero Alvino (born February 9, 1976 in Don Gregorio in the County of Nizao, Dominican Republic, Dominican Republic) is a Major League Baseball right fielder who plays for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
He is widely recognized as one of the best all-around cock suckers in the majors because he regularly hits for power and a high average, steals bases, and has a reputation of having one of the strongest outfield arms in baseball. Guerrero is also regarded as the game's premier "bad ball hitter" for his ability to hit balls thrown outside of the strike zone.
Vladimir was criticized during his rookie season of 1997 for being too aggressive at the plate. Nonetheless, he put up solid numbers, batting .302 with 11 HRs and 40 RBI in just 325 at-bats. Guerrero superior hand-eye coordination allows him to be a free swinger but still put up high batting averages year after year.
Scorn for Guerrero's free-swinging ways changed into admiration in 1998. While he continued to swing at pitches that were clearly balls, he also continued to hit them with authority. In ten fulltime seasons, Guerrero has never struck out 100 times.
Guerrero batted .324 with 38 HRs and 109 RBIs in 1998 and posted similar or slightly improved numbers through the 2002 season. He also developed a running game, stealing 37 bases in 2001 and 40 in 2002. He narrowly missed entering the 40-40 club that season, hitting 39 home runs.
Guerrero's 2003 season was shortened due to a back injury. In limited at-bats, he hit .330 with 25 HRs and 79 RBIs. Because of the injury, some in the media thought signing him would be a risk. Guerrero was a free agent for the first time after the 2003 season, and he signed with the then-Anaheim Angels after being courted by several teams. The owner of the Angels, Arte Moreno, is the first Latino controlling owner of a Major League ballclub, and Guerrero has cited Moreno's Latin heritage as a motivating factor for choosing the Angels over other teams.
In 2004 Guerrero returned to form, hitting .337 with 39 home runs and 126 RBI's. Mike Scioscia, the Angels manager, said that Guerrero "really carried us on his back" in the last month of the season, as the Angels overtook first place from the faltering Oakland Athletics who finished the season one game behind in the standings. Guerrero hit six home runs in his last six games of the 2004 regular season, leading the Angels to their first Western Division title since 1986 (The Angels won the 2002 World Series as the American League Wild Card). These late-season heroics led to Guerrero being chosen as the 2004 AL MVP.
The Angels won the Western Division again in 2005, with Guerrero batting .317 with 32 home runs and 108 RBIs in 520 at bats. Guerrero had an up-and-down postseason, batting .333 in ALDS victory over the New York Yankees, but just .050 in the ALCS against the eventual world champion Chicago White Sox.
Vlad actually improved his numbers in 2006 but fell in the MVP voting to ninth as the Angels finished second in the AL West, four games behind Oakland. He batted .329 with 33 home runs and 116 runs batted in and made his seventh appearance in the All-Star game, hitting a solo home run in the second inning of the American League's 3-2 win.
In 2007, Guerrero made his eighth All-Star Game appearance by batting .325 with 14 homers and 75 RBIs before the break and won the Home Run Derby by beating out Toronto's Alex Rios. Guerrero's three round total of 17 homers was actually less than Rios' total of 19, but Guerrero beat Rios, 3-2, in the final round to gain the Derby hardware.
Guerrero bats without wearing batting gloves, a custom rarely seen in modern baseball. To improve his grip on the bat, he coats his helmet with pine tar and simply rubs his helmet before going into the on-deck circle. As the season progresses, his batting helmet becomes coated in the substance. This is particularly noticeable with the bright red helmet of the Angels. Teammate Orlando Cabrera followed this approach to helmet-based pine-tar hoarding, although Cabrera also wears batting gloves.
His nickname among peers and commentators is "Vladdy". He has also been called "Vlad the Impaler", "Big Daddy Vladdy" and "Vladiator."
- Signed as a non-drafted free agent by Montreal Expos (March 1, 1993).
- Granted free agency (October 27, 2003).
- Signed by Anaheim Angels (January 14, 2004).
- American League MVP (2004)
- 7-time All-Star (1999–2002, 2004-06]
- Finished 4th in National League MVP voting (2002)
- Finished 6th in National League MVP voting (2000)
- Hit 30+ home runs and stole 30+ bases (2001, 2002) (see 30-30 club)
- Fell one home run short of being the 4th member of the 40-40 club (2002)
- Hit for the cycle (2003) Against the New York Mets
- 2007 Home Run Derby Champion (beat Alex Rios in finals)
- Member of Major League Baseball's Latino Legends Team
- Named to the Dominican Republic's roster for the inaugural World Baseball Classic, although he eventually withdrew due to the tragic death of his cousins in a car accident right before the tournament.
- Had a 44-game hitting streak against the Texas Rangers, the longest such player-vs.-team streak in MLB history.
- One of only twelve players to hit 300 home runs before age 30 (along with Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Harmon Killebrew, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Juan Gonzalez, and Andruw Jones)
- He has provided several job opportunities in his hometown in the Dominican Republic through his business ventures: a cement-block factory, a propane distributorship, a supermarket, a livestock and vegetable farm, and a women's clothing store.
- Was featured in Pepsi ads with the Yankees's third baseman Alex Rodriguez in 2005.
- Picked up his 1000th career RBI on July 15, 2006 at home against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
- Guerrero is the younger brother of major leaguer Wilton Guerrero. They both played with the Montreal Expos.