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Pedro Guerrero

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Pedro Guerrero

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 195 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

"The best hitter God has made in a long time." - Bill James

Baseball guru Bill James called Pedro Guerrero the best hitter of the 1980s. Pedro had it all - a high batting average (.300 lifetime), high on-base percentage, power, good stolen-base percentage, and above-average range in the outfield.

He was first signed by the Cleveland Indians and scout Reggie Otero, in 1973, out of San Pedro de Macoris. He played one season in the Gulf Coast League, then just as the 1974 season was about to start, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for major league-ready pitcher Bruce Ellingsen. It was an unusual trade for the time, but Otero had moved to the Dodgers' organization in the meantime and had nothing but glowing praise for his young protégé, prompting GM Al Campanis to ask for his services instead of a player closer to the major leagues. The Dodgers were patient with him, letting him develop in the minors before bringing him up late in the 1978 season. He played a bit more in 1979, was a utility player in 1980 Dodgers and was finally made a regular in 1981.

When the Dodgers tried to move him to third base (something they have tried to do to many outfielders in team history), his range factor at third was decent but the Dodgers apparently felt he made too many errors. Whatever the numbers say, he could never shake off a reputation as an atrocious fielder, both in the outfield and at third base, which is partly why he ended his career as a first baseman. In fact, he had played a lot of infield in the minors, including some time at second base early in his major league career, so trying him at third base was not too far-fetched.

In a classic (and probably apocryphal) tale, manager Tommy Lasorda was talking to Guerrero about how to field third base at a time when Steve Sax was having his problems at second base - and it went something like this:

"Tommy: Pedro, suppose the bases are loaded. What are you thinking about the next hitter? Pedro: I'm thinking 'Don't hit it to me'. Tommy: Come on, what else are you thinking? Pedro: I'm thinking 'Don't hit it to Saxxy either'."

He was third in the MVP voting three times - twice with the Dodgers and once with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was World Series co-MVP in 1981, when the Dodgers won the World Series. He was also a key member of the division-winning Dodger teams in 1983 and 1985, and was part of the 1988 Dodgers who went on to win the World Series until he was traded to the Cardinals (for pitcher John Tudor) in mid-season; at the time he was hitting .298 with a good on-base percentage but not much power. After the 1983 season, he was signed to a 5-year, $7 million contract, which was the largest in team history at that time.

His career, which seemed to be on a Hall of Fame track, was derailed in 1986, when he ruptured a tendon his knee on the final day of spring training, on April 3rd. The injury cost him all but a month of the season, and reduced his mobility as well. That made him a liability in the outfield, and when the Dodgers signed free agent Kirk Gibson before the 1988 season, he had to give up his spot in left field and move back to third base. As the Dodgers' biggest established star, he clashed with the brash Gibson, who was having an MVP season. The Dodgers had to choose between the two, and when an opportunity presented itself to acquire pitcher John Tudor, they sent Guerrero to St. Louis.

After all the moving around from position to position with the Dodgers, Pedro found a regular spot with the Cards, playing first base and playing every day. He had a great season in 1989, with 49 doubles, 117 RBI and a .311 batting average, but after being the National League's top team in the 1980s, the Cardinals were in a decline phase, and his bat could not reverse the trend. Age then began to get the better of him as his playing time and batting average declined each of the three following seasons. After hitting .219 in 43 games in 1992 he became a free agent, and finding no interest in his services given his declining production at age 36, he had to settle for playing in the minor leagues.

He was acquitted of drug charges in 2000.

The two most similar players through 2006, according to the similarity scores method, are Rico Carty and Ben Oglivie, although Pedro has a higher Adjusted OPS+ than either of them.

Guerrero's half-brother, Domingo Michel, was a minor league and CPBL outfielder from 1984-1999 and coached for the DSL White Sox in 2010.

Guerrero, who was born in 1956, played quite a few seasons in the minors - with a career minor league batting average of .319. He started in the minors in 1973, becoming a full-time major leaguer only in 1980, and after his major league days he played in the minors and independent ball from 1993 to 1995.

He managed the Vallejo Admirals to begin the 2013 Pacific Association season, but was replaced by Tito Fuentes, Jr. partway through the year.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 5-time NL All-Star (1981, 1983, 1985, 1987 & 1989)
  • 1981 World Series MVP
  • NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1982/OF)
  • NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1985)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1985)
  • NL OPS Leader (1985)
  • NL Doubles Leader (1989)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1982, 1983, 1985 & 1987)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1982, 1983 & 1985)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 3 (1982, 1983 & 1989)
  • Won a World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981

[edit] Further Reading

  • Pedro Guerrero (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, January 1992, pp. 43-44. [1]

[edit] Related Sites