All-time great slugger Vladimir Guerrero has decided to officially retire from the game, Hector Gomez of Dominican outlet Listin Diario recently reported (Spanish-language link). "I decided to announce my retirement due to my desire to spend more time with my family," said Guerrero (in Spanish), "as well as because of the two operations that I've had on my right knee."
Though we had heard recently that Guerrero would play independent league ball with the hope of returning to the bigs at age 38 and making a run at 500 career home runs, it appears he will settle for the 449 long balls he's already bagged. On the milestone, Guerrero said: "Lamentably, I couldn't do it. That was one of my principal goals." He last appeared in the majors with the Orioles in 2011. Then 36, Guerrero hit .290/.317/.416 in 590 plate appearances for the O's in what was his worst season as a regular.
Of course, Guerrero's career is not diminished because he fell short of his home run goal. His career triple-slash line stands at a remarkable .318/.379/.553 over 9,059 plate appearances. He swatted over 25 home runs twelve times, and hit over 30 in eight seasons. And he consistently hit for average as well, posting a batting average over .300 in thirteen of his fifteen full-time campaigns. Guerrero struck fear in baserunners and third-base coaches alike, ranging right field with a powerful right arm and recording double-digit assists for eight straight years in his prime. It is easy to forget, too, that a more youthful Guerrero notched 37 and 40 stolen bases in the 2001-2002 seasons, even if he was not terribly efficient in doing so. He was voted the American League MVP in 2004 — it was probably not even his best season — and finished amongst the top five three other times.
The long-time Expo and Angel great still stands atop the Montreal/Washington franchise's career list in total home runs. He also holds that franchise's record for OPS with a seemingly insurmountable .978 mark. What is most unforgettable, of course, was Vlad's uncanny ability to hit even the worst pitches for incredible power.