The Los Angeles Angels have a dilemma to handle, at least that’s the opinion of some people, in my eyes, there’s a clear right answer.
The former Angel Vladimir Guerrero got elected into Cooperstown this year and shortly thereafter announced he’ll enter the Hall of Fame with an Angels cap, which isn’t shocking, but it’s a bit intriguing, as he began his career in Montreal, played more games there (1004 to 846) and overall had slightly better numbers with the Expos, but usually these things go deeper than just stats, there’s emotional attachment involved, team success, a bunch of things, and he did win his only MVP award with the Angels, but that’s not what I want to focus on.
Every team has its own philosophy when it comes to retiring numbers, some are more strict, others not so much, but for the most part, when a Hall of Fame player, spent a significant time with your team, his number is retired, and here’s where the problem lies.
Guerrero wore the number 27, you probably know that number now belongs to the greatest baseball player in the world Mike Trout, with that in mind the Angels cannot retire the number, for the following reasons.
1: I know even if they do retire the number, Trout can still wear it, and eventually have his jersey retired, which inevitably will happen, giving the Angels two retired jerseys with the same number.
That doesn’t make any sense, it becomes meaningless, it’s just not the same and for those of you comparing it to the Mariano Rivera/Jackie Robinson situation, that’s completely different, for once Jackie never played for the Yankees, the retirement happened decades after he finished his career.
Robinson’s number wasn’t retired throughout baseball because he was the GOAT, significantly better than anyone ever, it was to pay respect and homage to all the things he did that transcended the game, a small way to give back just a little of what we all owe him.
In Guerrero’s case, you don’t retire his number, because there’s an even better player in your team wearing it, the best in your franchise’s history, in Rivera’s situation, what were you going to do, not retire 42 for the Yankees, because they already had a guy wearing the number, it’s irrelevant, as the jersey retirement extended so far beyond just the game.
2, In an interview for MLB Network last week, Trout said about the subject: “I’m real superstitious” “Everybody knows that.”
This has nothing to do with superstition, it’s about him wanting and deserving the number.
Now even if he had come out and said, I really don’t care, do whatever you want, my stance would be the same, for one retiring the jersey doesn’t prohibit him of wearing it, and two, here’s a guy who has been the best in baseball, outside of one year is always surrounded by bad teams, he signed an extension to stay an Angel, never says a word, never asked for a trade, that counts for something.
He deserves the opportunity to see the number 27 retired when he finishes his career, not play it with a retired number.
Let’s not lose sight here people, Vlad Guerrero was great, but he played 6 seasons with the Angels, not exactly Derek Jeter, Trout also played about 6 seasons a little more, but he is just getting started and for the foreseeable future he is not going anywhere.
Consider this, in his whole career, Guerrero’s WAR was 54.3, Trout, right now is at 54.4. (FG WAR).
Guerrero with the Angels:
.387 wOBA 138 wRC+ 176.1 wRAA
544 Runs .226 ISO .927 OPS
.412 wOBA 169 wRC+ 318.4 wRAA
692 Runs .260 ISO .976 OPS
You can’t argue against it, and looking at it from a different angle, if you are Guerrero, you are in Cooperstown, do you really want to either have your number retired and take it away from Trout, or have it retired, only to have the number 27 forever recognized as the jersey that Trout wore, with a footnote, saying, oh Vlad Guerrero also wore that number.
This is not a huge deal, he is not being penalized, his jersey for the Angels doesn’t get retired, for a more than valid reason, it’s fine.
Having the best player your team has ever had, wearing a retired jersey for a guy whose career on your ball club isn’t quite in the same level as him, now that’s just wrong.