This Is Not The Same Guerrero
Now that Vlad Guerrero has come back to not only make the Angels feel foolish, but to rub their noses in it, this is the ideal time to make one fact perfectly clear.
This is not the same guy we watched last year.
This is a new, healthier, slimmed down, re-energized version of Vlad. Maybe it’s because he suffered through so many injuries and the worst season of his career in 2009. Maybe it’s because the Angels wouldn’t give him a multi-year contract even though he’d been the American League MVP and their best player for most of his time in the organization. Or maybe it’s just that he realized his future as a bigtime player suddenly was in serious jeopardy.
Whatever it was, Guerrero obviously did something about it in the offseason. His body looks completely different. Even Torii Hunter and some of his former teammates were noticing how much trimmer he looked. And as for running, it’s eerie how different he looks. A year ago, you wanted to grimace just watching him try to get around the bases looking like an old, decrepit man. Now he’s sprinting around like a young colt again.
The most amazing part of all, though, is his bat speed. It had decreased dramatically a year ago when he couldn’t consistently get around on fastballs in the mid-90s. Now, for whatever reason, he’s getting around on everything, including a 97 mph heater from Kevin Jepsen that he deposited over the center field fence Tueday night.
In two games so far in this series in Anaheim, Vlad has crushed three home runs and driven in eight. He doesn’t even look like his old menacing self. He looks better.
OK, so given all that, tell me how the Angels were supposed to know this could happen. The answer is they couldn’t.
None of us could. I’ve already written in an earlier blog that I don’t remember being more wrong about anybody. After watching Vlad strike out wildly and hit into more rally-ending double plays than I could count last year, I thought management did the right thing in letting him walk and signing Hideki Matsui to take his place at DH.
Ask me if I thought there was any chance Vlad, at 34 or whatever his real age is, could put up MVP-like numbers again, and I would have laughed in your face. Guys like that don’t get younger, they get older, right? When the bat speed goes, it doesn’t come back. Or didn’t you bother to watch Ken Griffey Jr. earlier this season?
Well, so much for those theories, huh?.
I don’t know what Guerrero actually did in the offseason, but whatever it was, he should bottle it and sell it to aging power hitters everywhere. Seriously, this is one of the more amazing turnarounds in recent baseball memory.
Don’t get me wrong here. This is not meant to take anything away from what he is doing with the Rangers. His numbers so far are indisputable. The show he put on Wednesday night (4-for-4, two home runs and 5 RBIs) ranks right there with the finest of his Hall of Fame career.
But let the record show that whatever this is, it is not the Vladimir Guerrero we watched last year.
No how, no way. Trust me, this is not even close.
— Steve Bisheff