Vladimir Guerrero – Hall Bound
Vladimir Guerrero, the best “bad ball” hitter of my generation and possibly in the history of the sport, is nearing 2,500 hits, many of which came from pitches above his head and below his feet. And, I mean that literally. During the 2009 post-season Cal Ripken Jr. commented during a TBS post-game report that Guerrero was the “best bad-ball hitter he’s ever seen,” after witnessing a base hit on a pitch that bounced in the dirt before reaching the plate.
In terms of worthiness into baseball hall of fame I will start and end the debate with the fact that there are only five players in the history of baseball that have finished with 400 home runs and a career bating average above .315; Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Stan Musial. Guerrero has already reached the 400 home run mark and has a lifetime batting average of .322.
The former MVP winner has twice been in the 30/30 club falling just one home run shy of joining the 40/40 club. In terms of being a feared hitter from opposing pitcher you need not look any further than his 247 career intentional base on balls, which puts him atop the list of active players and 4th all-time behind Bonds, Aaron and McCovey. He was just voted this past week to his 8th all-star appearance and is on pace for his 8th silver slugger award. Moreover, Guerrero has finished in the top 10 in most valuable player awards 6 times, batting average 7 times, and slugging percentage 9 times.
Vlad may not be a first ballot hall of famer but when looking at his Hall of Fame Statistics he is a virtual shoe-in in 3 of the 4 standards, the only exception being his Black Ink score, which only takes into consideration the times you have led the league in a major offensive category.
Black Ink- 6 (Avg HOFer ≈ 27)
Gray Ink- 173 (Avg HOFer ≈ 144)
Hall of Fame Monitor- 188 (Avg HOFer ≈ 100)
Hall of Fame Standards- 56 (Avg HOFer ≈ 50)
Unfortunately, Vlad played in the Steroid Era which had a negative affect on his Black Ink score finishing behind Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Sammy Sosa on multiple instances in home runs, slugging percentage and total bases. I will also add that he finished behind Todd Helton in 2000 (who hit .391 at home) and Larry Walker in 2002 (who hit .362 at home) in batting average and on-base percentage.
With that said he currently sits 14th all time in career slugging percentage and 21st all time in career on base + slugging percentage. According to the Keltner List, which is an extremely subjective guide to answering whether or not a player is good enough for the hall of fame, in the case of Vladimir Guerrero the answer is a firm yes.