Pedro Guerrero (baseball)

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Pedro Guerrero
First baseman / Outfielder / Third baseman
Born: (1956-06-29) June 29, 1956 (age 58)
San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 22, 1978 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
October 4, 1992 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Batting average .300
Home runs 215
Runs batted in 898
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Pedro Guerrero (born June 29, 1956) is a Dominican former professional baseball player. He played all or part of fifteen seasons in Major League Baseball from 1978 to 1992 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals.

Career[edit]

Writer Bill James called Guerrero "the best hitter God has made in a long time."[1] In the minors, he made all-star teams at both first base and third base.

Los Angeles Dodgers[edit]

Pedro Guerrero was born June 29, 1956, in San Pedro de Macoris on the east coast of the Dominican Republic. Guerrero was barely a teenager when he left school to help support his family cutting cane for the island's rum industry. His earnings were less than $3 US a week for the heavy field labor. The young teenager provided for his divorced mother and siblings by day, but enjoyed playing the drums during the evening and participating in organized baseball on weekends. By age 16, the hard-hitting Guerrero stood out amongst his peers in a local youth league, primarily at third base.

Latin scouting pioneer Reggie Otero, representing Cleveland's major league franchise, traveled to San Pedro to scout Guerrero. Otero described his first impression of the Dominican prodigy: "He was five-feet-11, 157 pounds. I looked at the width of his shoulders, back and front, and knew that he would get heavier and stronger. He had lived off of rice and beans." [2]

In late 1972, Otero offered Guerrero a pro contract, which included a $2,500 bonus to be paid out on New Year's Day of 1973.

At age 17, Guerrero began his career with a season of rookie ball in the remote Gulf Coast League. In April 1974, the Indians, seeking pitching help, traded Guerrero to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor leaguer left-handed pitcher Bruce Ellingsen. Dodger personnel director Al Campanis had recently hired Reggie Otero, who recommended the acquisition of Guerrero.

Ellingsen pitched only 16 major league games. Contrasted with the heights of Guerrero's career, the trade ranks as one of the most lop-sided straight-up swaps in baseball history.[3]

Guerrero would wait several years before breaking in with the parent club and becoming a full-time big league player. Los Angeles won three pennants between 1974 and 1978, receiving a steady supply of pitching talent from Triple-A Albuquerque and gaining even more assets through trades and the free agent. Meanwhile, Guerrero shined in the minors. He hit .300 or better in six seasons and being named to minor league All-Star teams at both first and third base. In 1977, he was leading the Pacific Coast League at AAA Albuquerque with a .403 batting average, when he fractured his left ankle in the field. The injury cost him a call-up to the majors.

Guerrero finally broke into the big leagues in late 1978. His first major league at-bat came in the fifth inning of a September blowout loss against Randy Jones and the San Diego Padres. Pedro pinch-hit for former minor league roommate and future nemesis Rick Sutcliffe, and promptly singled for the first of the 1,618 hits he would garner in his big league career. Exactly a year later he hit his first major league home run off Padres pitcher Bob Owchinko, appearing in 25 games total in 1979.

Pedro made significant contributions to the parent club in 1980. He filled valuable a utility role over two stretches during the season, spelling an ailing Davey Lopes at second and a slumping Rudy Law in center. Overall, Guerrero played six different positions in 1980 and batted an impressive .322 with 7 homers and 31 RBI in 183 at-bats.

During this time, Pedro met his lifelong love, Denise. The couple would soon marry and move into a condominium in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles.

1981 started fortuitously for the deserving Dodger. Incumbent right fielder Reggie Smith was rehabilitating from an arm injury, opening a spot in right field for Guerrero at the start of the season. Pedro made the most of the opportunity. His early numbers in 1981 were All-Star caliber. The Dodgers were atop their division and Guerrero's average well above .300 when a players' strike halted the season full stop in early June.

The season resumed in August, and the All-Star game played in Cleveland on August 9. Guerrero's .325 first half batting average won him a spot on the NL roster, his first of five All-Star nods. Guerrero batted only .269 in the latter half of the split campaign as the Dodgers posted a mediocre 27-26 record the rest of the way.

The 1981 strike caused a restructuring of that season's playoff format. Pennant races were replaced by a system pairing "first half" winners against "second half" winners in each division, and include a pair of wild card teams. The Dodgers were guaranteed a playoff spot for their first-half lead.

Guerrero's slump continued into the postseason. The Dodgers were pushed to the brink in two consecutive playoff rounds against Houston and Montreal, but managed to overcome deficits in each series. In the final game of the National League Championship Series against the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles' Rick Monday hit a miraculous ninth inning home run in Montreal's Olympic Stadium to give the pennant to the Dodgers.

The Dodgers again faced the New York Yankees in the 1981 World Series, their third Fall Classic matchup in five years.

The Yankees gained the early advantage while the Dodgers were disoriented at the plate, dropping the first two games. In the third game, played at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles squandered a three-run lead gained by Ron Cey's first-inning homer when the Yankees scored four runs against rookie Fernando Valenzuela. Yankees reliever George Frazier settled in nicely after entering in the third in relief of starter Dave Righetti and snuffing a two-on, no-outs Dodger threat.

Guerrero came to bat in the fifth, facing Frazier, with Garvey and Cey on base with no outs. In the third inning, Pedro had fouled off two bunt attempts before striking out swinging on five pitches, and the Dodgers had failed to score in the inning. Facing the same situation, the logical decision was to move the runners over once again. Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda's instinct told him otherwise.

Yankees expected the bunt, and Yankee third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez bit hard when Guerrero squared his stance. Unexpectedly, Guerrero withdrew from the bunt stance and hacked a ground ball past the outstretched glove of the drawn-in Rodriguez. The hard grounder allowed Garvey to score and Cey to advance to third. Guerrero hustled to reach second base, and Cey scored the go-ahead run on a subsequent double play. The pair of decisive runs was enough as Valenzuela held on to secure the 5-4 comeback complete-game win.

The Dodgers won a back-and-forth 8-7 battle to even the Series in Game Four, but were on the ropes again at home in Game Five. Ron Guidry baffled the Dodgers, entering the seventh inning with a two-hit shutout and nine strikeouts. After dispatching Dusty Baker on three pitches, Pedro Guerrero smashed a home run to deep left field. Guerrero commented on his solo shot after the game: "I hit a slider…as soon as I hit it I knew it was gone." Steve Yeager followed with another homer, and the back-to-back round-trippers were enough for a 2-1 win, Los Angeles' third in a row.

Guerrero had factored into three straight World Series wins, but his crowning performance in Game Six sealed the series for the Dodgers. In that final game, Pedro totaled five RBIs and eight total bases amassed on a triple, homer, and bases loaded single. The one-man show capped a 9-2 victory and gave the Dodgers' their first World Series title in 16 years. Guerrero was named co-MVP of the Series along with teammates Ron Cey and Steve Yeager.[3]

In somewhat of a symbol of the insufficient attention he received during his impressive career, he was the only one of the three not to be interviewed during the nationally televised post-game celebration. SOURCE?

In 1982, he became the first Dodger to hit 30 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season, and he did it again the following year.

In 1985, Guerrero tied a major league record with 15 home runs in June, and also tied the Los Angeles season record of 33. He reached base 14 consecutive times that year, two short of the record set by Ted Williams, and led the league in slugging, on-base and home run percentage.

Guerrero was an aggressive baserunner but a poor slider. He ruptured a tendon sliding in spring training and missed most of the 1986 season, after which he ran less frequently. But in 1987 he batted .338 and won the UPI's Comeback Player of the Year award. His batting average that year was the highest by any Dodger since the .346 recorded by Tommy Davis in 1962.

The Dodgers shifted him from the outfield to a starter at third base as a replacement for the departing Ron Cey. He also played sporadically at first base as the need arose. Although he gained a reputation for being shaky at third,[1] he was statistically as good as anyone in the league at getting to the ball.

St. Louis Cardinals[edit]

During Los Angeles' 1988 championship season, he was traded to the Cardinals for pitcher John Tudor.

In 1989, Guerrero earned serious MVP consideration, batting .311 with 17 home runs, a career-high 117 RBIs and a league-high 42 doubles. His production fell off sharply afterwards. In 1992 a shoulder injury limited him to 43 games, and he finished his major league career batting just .219 with one home run.

Independent leagues and Mexico[edit]

In 1993, after becoming a free agent and not finding a new major league team, Guerrero signed with the independent Sioux Falls Canaries of the Northern League. He split the season between the Canaries and the Charros de Jalisco of the Mexican League. He returned to the Canaries in 1994, then made one more attempt at a comeback in 1995 with the Midland Angels, the Double-A farm team of the California Angels before retiring.

Post-baseball[edit]

In September 1999, Guerrero was arrested for trying to buy 33 pounds of cocaine from an undercover agent. In June 2002, he was acquitted of drug conspiracy charges after his attorney argued his low IQ of 70 prevented him from understanding that he had agreed to a drug deal and that he was borderline retarded. His attorney further argued that Guerrero could not complete basic tasks such as writing a check, making his bed, or buying insurance and that his wife had to place him on a daily monetary allowance.[4] [1]

Guerrero was out of baseball until the winter of 2011 when his former teammate Mike Marshall, then Commissioner of the Arizona Winter League, hired him as a hitting instructor.In 2011. That break led to managing positions in the Mexican minor leagues, an independent minor league in California, and instructional league hitting coach and managing positions in Arizona and Texas.[5]

For 2012, Guerrero was named the manager of the Tijuana Truenos in the top Mexican minor league.[6]

For 2013, Guerrero was named the manager of the Vallejo Admirals in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs.[7] Guerrero was relieved of his manager duties in July when a new ownership group took over the team.

For 2014, Guerrero was named manager of the Rieleros de Frontera in the Liga Del Norte in the city of Monclova in the Mexican minor leagues.[8] Guerrero led the Rieleros to the Liga Del Norte Championship where they defeated the Palau Tuzos 4 games to 2 to win the league title.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Player Profiles: Pedro Guerrero". BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  2. ^ Kaplan, Jim. "A Bolt Out Of The Dodger Blue." Sports Illustrated. August 5, 1985
  3. ^ a b http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/7e530bab
  4. ^ Four-time All-Star Guerrero acquitted of drug charges, June 7, 2000, Associated Press via CNNSI.com
  5. ^ Arizona Winter League Signs Pedro Guerrero to Coaching Position, January 12, 2011 Our Sports Central
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ Pedro Guerrero introduced as manager of Vallejo Admirals
  8. ^ [3]

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Dave Parker
Mark Grace
National League Player of the Month
June 1985
August 1989
Succeeded by
Keith Hernandez
Will Clark