Vladimir Guerrero was on the Los Angeles Angels last year at this time. The Texas Rangers were 75-58, respectively. They trailed the Angels by 3.5 games and were still in the playoff hunt. Guerrero was one of the stars of the team that the Rangers were trailing.
This year, the Rangers have that star. Vlad is one of the main contributors to the Rangers high-powered offense, and the standings are completely different.
The Rangers took a chance by signing him in the offseason because his power numbers were down—15 homers, 16 doubles, and 50 RBI in 100 Games.
His contract was up, and the Angels figured he could only go downhill from that point. He hadn't played a whole season due to nagging injuries. The Angels figured he was getting old, and they would be just as good without him.
Well, they figured wrong.
Vladimir signed with the Rangers and is now the regular DH. He has a slash line of .295/.341/.493 with 25 home runs and 99 runs batted in.
Maybe his success is due to a burning passion deep inside of him that has made him want to show Angels fans and general management that he's still the real deal—regardless of his age.
Yea, yea I know what you Angels fans are going to say. He's hitting in the ballpark where he has had the most statistical success in his whole career.
Well, the point is the Angels basically dropped him because he was getting old, and they didn't think he could stay healthy and put up the numbers he had been putting up for almost 14 full seasons.
Now, because of injuries and not enough offense to support a mediocre pitching staff, besides Jered Weaver, the Angels find themselves in a black hole that will be impossible to get out of.
They are a whopping 10.5 gamed behind the Rangers, and even the A's are in front of them.
Vlad was a perfect match for the Rangers. He has incredible numbers at their home ballpark, and he made an already above-average team a division-winning team.
Along with the MVP-type year that Josh Hamilton is putting up, Guerrero has helped drive in the batters in front of him. The Rangers now have one of the best middle of the orders in all of baseball.
The race in the AL West would probably be a lot closer if the Angels had kept Vlad, because not only would they have retained his production, but they also would have kept him from the Rangers.
In my opinion, the Rangers would still be in first place, but it is interesting to think where this division would be if the Rangers hadn't picked up Guerrero.
The Rangers have a chance to go far in the postseason, if Cliff Lee can regain his form, and Tommy Hunter stays sharp. If the Rangers' pitching staff can keep potent offenses like the Yankees or Rays in check, they have a chance to go far.
Vladimir Guerrero just needs to keep raking and show those Angels fans just what they are missing.