11/09/07 4:00 PM ET
Vlad collects another Silver Slugger
Guerrero wins award for fourth straight year, seventh overall
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
An eight-time All-Star and 2004 AL MVP, Guerrero made the National League's Silver Slugger honor roll in 1999, 2000 and 2002 with the Montreal Expos before joining the Angels in 2004 as a free agent.Louisville Slugger's Silver Slugger Award winners were determined by a vote of Major League Baseball coaches and managers who vote for the players they felt were the best offensive producers at each position in both the American and National Leagues in 2007. Selections are based on a combination of offensive statistics including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, as well as the coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value. Managers and coaches were not allowed to vote for players on their own team.
The specially designed Silver Slugger Award will be presented to each player by a representative of the Hillerich & Bradsby Co., makers of Louisville Slugger, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball, in a ceremony early in the 2008 season. The trophy is three feet tall and bears the engraved name of the winner and his Silver Slugger teammates in his respective league.
The Silver Slugger Award was instituted by H&B in 1980 as a natural extension of the Silver Bat Award which is, as its name indicates, a silver-plated bat presented by Louisville Slugger to the batting champions in the AL and NL. This year's Silver Bat Award winners are Colorado's Matt Holliday and Detroit's Magglio Ordonez. Holliday hit .340 to win the NL batting title. Ordonez led the Major Leagues in batting with a .363 average and claimed the AL honor. Both will receive their Silver Bat Awards in on-field presentations early in the 2008 season.
Old-school to the bone, Guerrero doesn't believe in ornaments. He never wears batting gloves, and when he won the 2007 State Farm Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game festivities in San Francisco, he did so without a batting helmet.
Everything about him represents independence and strength. The blue "Superman" shirt he wears beneath his Angels game jersey fits Guerrero to a T. He might not be faster than a speeding bullet, and it's doubtful he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, but he could be more powerful than a locomotive.The Angels' sunshine Superman, one of five finalists for the 2007 Hank Aaron Award in the American League that went to the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, is admired by teammates and universally respected by opponents. Guerrero batted .324 with 27 homers and 125 RBIs as the driving force behind an Angels offense that finished fourth in the American League in runs scored. Leading the league with 28 intentional walks, Guerrero had a .547 slugging percentage and .403 on-base percentage while playing in 150 games. Guerrero reached the 25-homer barrier for the 10th consecutive season, and he is one of four players in the past 50 years -- joining Rod Carew, Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn -- to hit .300 for 10 consecutive seasons. Battling through hand, elbow and shoulder injuries that robbed him of power at times, he remained a steady, clutch force in the Angels' run to their third AL West title in four seasons. A 96-mph fastball from Boston's Josh Beckett off his right hand in April cost Guerrero only two games, and when he sustained an inflamed right triceps in late August, he missed four games, returning as DH to smack a pair of homers. Guerrero showed mastery of all aspects of hitting, going the other way against shifts to drive in runs with grounders through the right side when that's what the game situation demanded. "He's one of the elite hitters in the game, just an amazing hitter," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "When he's locked in, Vlad's capable of doing things not many players can do." Selected to the AL starting lineup for the All-Star Game for the fourth consecutive year, finishing behind only A-Rod and Derek Jeter in the fans' balloting, Guerrero was joined in San Francisco by teammates John Lackey and Francisco Rodriguez.
"I couldn't imagine a better teammate than Vlad," Lackey said. "He's an authentic superstar who doesn't act it. He's just having a good time. He'd be at home in the Dominican [Republic] playing on the streets if he wasn't here -- and he'd be having just as much fun.
"It would be hard for me to imagine anyone who has a bigger impact on his team than Vlad does. If we were to lose him for any extended period of time, it wouldn't be good for us."
Dodgers All-Star pitcher Brad Penny claimed that Guerrero, when he was playing for Montreal, once lifted a pitch out of the dirt and over the wall in Florida.
"Truth," Guerrero said, grinning. "I was young then. Strong."
Guerrero demonstrated his stunning power when he caught fire and claimed the Home Run Derby title. He launched the longest shot of the night, a 503-foot blast just beneath the giant mitt in left field, averaging 434.5 feet with his 17 homers.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.