Former Expos and Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is retiring, according to a report from the Spanish site Listin Diario. Guerrero hasn't played in the majors since a stint with the Orioles in 2011. In 2012, he played 12 games in the Blue Jays minor league system.
Guerrero goes down in history as one of the greatest Expos in history. His .323 career batting average is the highest in club history, .390 OBP is fifth. and his .588 slugging percentage is 91 points higher than his nearest competitor. Guerrero is also the all-time home run leader in Expos history while also holding four of the top five single season home run totals in club history. It's a shame that his accomplishments will likely be brushed under the rug now that the Expos have moved from Montreal to Washington and become the Nationals. In 2002, Guerrero finished one home run shy of notching a 40/40 season with Montreal.
Guerrero signed with the Angels as a free agent following the 2003 season. Guerrero had six top ten MVP finishes over his career, including a trio of top three finishes with Anaheim and a fourth place nod with Montreal. He won the award at age 29 in 2004, when he hit .337/.391/.598 with 39 home runs. He only played in one World Series in his career, when he made the 2010 Fall Classic as a member of the Texas Rangers. Serving as the Rangers' primary DH that season, Guerrero hit .300/.345/.496 with 29 homers. Guerrero was a nine-time All-Star, and won eight Silver Sluggers over his career. He finished his career with 2590 hits and 449 home runs along with a .318/.379/.553 slash line in 2147 games.
Vladimir holds a special place in my heart because of his performance for the 1996 Harrisburg Senators. He had one of the greatest minor league seasons ever with the AA club as a 21-year old, hitting .360/.438/.612 with 32 doubles, eight triples, 19 homers, and 17 stolen bases in 118 games. The Senators finished 74-68 that season, winning their first of four straight Eastern League championships. I was ten at the time, and went to many games that year. My father and I knew we were watching a very special player, and to this day, we still talk about some of his exploits with the club.
Guerrero was a ridiculously fun player to watch in his prime. In the field, he could make absurd throws like this from right field.
Then at the plate, he could do stuff like hit for the cycle on pitches that he had no business even making contact with.
Thanks, Vladimir. I'm not sure if you're a Hall of Famer, but you're one of the most entertaining players I've ever seen. Seeing Guerrero hit a walk-off homer in Montreal in 2002 remains one of the most memorable moments in my life as a baseball fan.