In this edition of Throwback Thursday, we take a look back at a shortstop who gave everyone mixed feelings, Carlos Guillen.
In 1998, Randy Johnson had made it known that he wasn’t going to come back. Whether that was on him (it wasn’t) or on the team (it was), they were going to get rid of him at the trade deadline.
He would go to Houston and finish with a 10-1 record and a 1.28 ERA. He would then sign with Arizona, win four straight Cy Young awards, go 81-27 with a 2.48 ERA, throw 1030 innings, and strikeout 1,417 batters for a rate of 12.4 K/9. Maybe they should have paid the man?
Let’s take a look back at Carlos Guillen, and what could have been with the young Seattle Mariners shortstop.
Carlos Guillen would make his debut that September, playing during the last month of the season. It was a great debut, as he would go 13 for 42. Then in 2000, Guillen would become the starter, and hold it for the next four years with the team.
If you are like me, then you likely misremember the production we received from Guillen. He seemed like a promising talent, but never really turned into anything great, at least with the Mariners.
Check out the average numbers of his four seasons.
118 games, 106 hits, 20 doubles, seven home runs, three steals, and a line of .263/.336/.383, with an oWAR of 2.1 and a dWAR of 0.7.
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I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty pedestrian to me, if not actually below average or bad. Part of this comes from age. Remember, these were Guillen’s age 24-27 seasons. For most players, their prime season is age 27 or 28. Guillen was just getting there.
The best season of Guillen’s career up to that point was actually his last season, his age-27 season, his “prime” season. He hit .276/.359/.394, all career highs. His strikeout rate was the lowest of his career, and his walk rate was the highest.
At that point in time, you had to ask if it was an indicator that Guillen was reaching that peak, and would be playing at a new level. He had yet to make an all-star game, but it seemed right around the corner.
Unfortunately, Seattle Mariners fans would never find out, at least in Seattle. You wanna see what we missed out on over his first four years in Detroit on average?
132 games, 154 hits, 32 doubles, 16 home runs, 12 steals, a line of .313/.377/.506, an oWAR of 4.7 and a dWAR of 0.0. Oh, and two all-star games, with his third coming in year five.
Oh, how I wish we could’ve had those stats from Rich Aurila, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Mike Morse, and Willie Bloomquist. Instead, we were teased by Mike Morse, Lopez moved to second, Bloomquist was only a utility albeit a team favorite, and Yuni was decent for a while before leaving.
I had always remembered Carlos Guillen fondly. Maybe it was coming off of the playoff appearances in 1995, 1997, and 2001 for someone born in 1988, who thought he was going to go through his youth with a good baseball team. Instead, all we had was a replacement-level shortstop, who we let go of as he approached his prime, losing him before he turned the corner and made three all-star games in five years in Detroit.
Carlos Guillen was a great shortstop. It just didn’t happen with the Seattle Mariners.