Note: This page discusses major league outfielder Jose Guillen. For minor leaguers of the same name, click here.
Jose Manuel Guillen
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.
- Debut April 1, 1997
- Final Game October 3, 2010
- Born May 17, 1976 in San Cristobal, San Cristobal, D.R.
Jose Guillen was a talented outfielder whose career was marred by shuffling between the minors and majors (even after proving that he could hit major league pitching), bouncing from team to team, steroid-related suspensions, and repeated problems with management and other authorities.
A right fielder with a great arm and better-than-average power, Jose Guillen made his debut on Opening Day of 1997 as the starting right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was 21 at the time and was making the jump straight from Class A Lynchburg, where he had hit .322 with 30 doubles and 21 home runs in 136 games and was the Carolina League Player of the Year in 1996. In spite of the huge jump, Guillen held his own with Pittsburgh, batting .267/.300/.412 in 143 games, with 20 doubles, 14 homers and 70 RBI. He was named on the 1997 Topps All-Star Rookie Team in recognition of his solid season. Back in the starting line-up in 1998, he played in 153 games with a an almost identical batting line (.267/.298/.414). With the added playing time, he jumped from 20 to 38 doubles, and to 84 RBI, but his OBP remained well below average and even fell slightly. He experienced some difficulties at the plate in 1999, however, after missing a month of spring training because of visa problems. His batting average fell to .253 and he hit only 3 homers in 40 games for the Pirates. He was then sent down to Nashville of the Pacific Coast League, where he hit .333 in 35 games, showing good power, but the Pirates unexpectedly gave up on him at that point. On July 23rd, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with P Jeff Sparks for two catchers, Humberto Cota and Joe Oliver. The Pirates needed help behind the plate following a season-ending injury to starting catcher Jason Kendall, but it was still puzzling to trade a player who had established himself as a major leaguer at such a young age for so little return.
After crushing the ball at a .382/.476/.676 pace in 9 games for the Durham Bulls, Jose Guillen was back in the majors for the remainder of the 1999 season, but hit only .244 in 47 games for the Devil Rays, with little power. He would be sent down to Durham again in 2000 and 2001 as his development stalled in Tampa Bay. However, it may have been more a question of the D-Rays' well-documented lack of patience at the time than real failings on Guillen's part: in 2000, he hit 31 extra-base hits in 316 at-bats to move his slugging average back to a respectable .430, then in 2001, he improved his batting average to .274, the highest in his career to date, but only played 41 games in the majors. He became a free agent after the season, and, considered a bust and in little demand, he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks where he hit only .229 in 41 games in early 2002. He was released on July 22nd, was picked up by the Colorado Rockies, hit .412 in 5 games for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and was released again, this time landing with the Cincinnati Reds after playing briefly with the Louisville Bats. In Cincinnati, he hit .248 in 31 games to finish the season.
Guillen finally showed his talent in 2003 after playing a handful of games at Louisville to begin the season. He was installed as the Reds' regular right fielder and hit .337/.385/.629 in 91 games over the first four months of the year. Not convinced he was that good, the Reds sent him to the Oakland Athletics at the trading deadline in return for P Aaron Harang and two others. He continued hitting with Oakland, and finished the season with a combined line of .311/.359/.569 in 136 games, with 28 doubles, 31 homers and 86 RBI. He got to play in the postseason for the first time and went 5 for 11 with a double and 3 walks as the A's lost the ALDS to the Boston Red Sox.
Guillen was now ready to turn his performance into a decent salary, but the Athletics were not willing to commit a large amount of cash for a player with a spotty track record. He thus ended up signing as a free agent with the Anaheim Angels for 2004. He fell back somewhat from his lofty heights of the previous season, but was still an excellent hitter for the Angels, going .294/.352/.497 in 148 games and topping 100 RBI for the only time in his career. However, amidst rumors of difficulties getting along with teammates and management - rumors that had dogged him since Pittsburgh - he was on the move again after the season. In this case, the triggering incident took place in September, when he threw a tantrum after being removed from a game for a pinch runner, earning a suspension. On November 19th, he was traded to the Montreal Expos - who by that time knew that they were moving to Washington, DC in short order - in return for Maicer Izturis and Juan Rivera.
With the Washington Nationals, Guillen was expected to be one of the team's stars. He filled the bill in 2005, the team's inaugural season in the nation's capital, by playing 148 games again, with a line of .283/.338/.479. He hit 32 doubles and 24 homers, but only drove in 76 runs while scoring 81. In 2006, he was hit by injuries and was limited to 69 games, in which he hit a poor .216. A free agent once again, he signed with the Seattle Mariners, where he was a productive player at the bat in 2007. That year, he hit .290 with 28 doubles, 23 homers and 99 RBI, production in line with previous seasons in which he had been healthy and played full time. He was looking for a long-term contract, however, and found a surprise suitor in the Kansas City Royals, who were under pressure from the Commissioner's office to spend some of their cash obtained through revenue sharing on marquee players.
However, after signing as a free agent with the Royals in the off-season, Jose Guillen was handed a suspension for the first week of the 2008 season due to steroid usage. Guillen's suspension was later canceled as part of a new steroid policy in April of 2008 giving amnesty to past offenders named in the Mitchell Report. That year, he hit .264/.300/.438 for the Royals, with a career-high 42 doubles and 20 home runs, while driving in 97 runs. Spending a lot of money on Guillen may not have been a great move in terms of player development for the Royals, but at least he was a productive hitter in the middle of a weak line-up.
In 2009, Guillen went 1 for 12 with a run for the Dominican Republic in their disappointing 1-2 performance in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The Dominican right fielder, his lone hit came off Leon Boyd. He scored the first run in the lone Dominican win, reaching on an error by Panama's Rubén Tejada and scoring on an error by Javier Castillo. Back with the Royals, he then suffered a freakish injury on July 24, 2009, when he tore a ligament in his right knee while tying on a shin guard during the game. The injury cost him 10 weeks of action. He ended the year playing in 81 games, with a batting line of .242/.314/.367. Suddenly, his long-term contract looked a lot less wise.
On June 26, 2010, Guillen became only the 7th player in Royals franchise history to have a 20+ game hitting streak. However, he then clashed with team management concerning his playing time, and on August 13th was dealt to the San Francisco Giants for a minor leaguer. After having hit .255 in 106 games for Kansas City, he hit .266 in 42 games as the Giants' starting right fielder over the season's last weeks, as the Giants overcame the San Diego Padres to win the NL West title. He was then surprisingly left off the postseason roster as the Giants went on to capture their first World Series title. A possible explanation surfaced a few weeks later, when a report in the New York Daily News alleged that in September the Drug Enforcement Administration had intercepted a shipment of some 50 needles containing human growth hormone that he had arranged to receive from a supplier the agency was monitoring. That marked the end of his career in organized baseball.
- 1996 MVP Carolina League Lynchburg Hillcats
- 1997 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2003-2005, 2007 & 2008)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2003)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (2004)
- Won a World Series with the San Francisco Giants in 2010 (he did not play in the World Series)