Introducing… Ozzie Guillen

Best known as the candid skipper of the Chicago White Sox, Ozzie Guillen was a star shortstop of the 1980s and 1990s.  Never much of a hitter, Ozzie was a Gold Glove winner and three-time All-Star who was solid defensively and a difficult strikeout victim.  Although he was hard to fan, Guillen was a swing-happy batter who hardly ever drew a walk.  His on-base percentages were always fairly low but he earned his dough with his glove and leadership skills.  It was obvious to anyone who watched Ozzie play that there was no other place in this world he’d rather be than the diamond.

Originally signed out of his native Venezuela by the Padres, San Diego shipped him and Tim Lollar, Bill Long and Luis Salazar to Chicago for Lamarr Hoyt.  Although Hoyt was effective for a short time in San Diego the trade became a steal for Chicago.  Ozzie would patrol shortstop for the Pale Hose from 1985 to 1997.  In his rookie season of 1985, Ozzie won the Rookie of the Year Award with a .273 batting average and nine triples.  But he didn’t win the award for his stickwork.  Guillen led American League shortstops with a .980 fielding percentage.  His batting average would fall to .250 in 1986 but then jumped up to .279 in 1987.  In ’87 Ozzie began a four-year string of seasons in which he would participate in 100 or more double plays.

Guillen was named to his first All-Star team in 1988.  That year he paced shortstops with 570 assists and finished fifth in the league with seven three-baggers.  After establishing a single season high in RBI in 1989, Ozzie set a new personal best in 1990 when he drove in 58 runs.  Ozzie made his second All-Star team that year and won the Gold Glove for his position.  An All-Star again in 1991, Guillen swiped 21 bases but after a serious injury that almost wiped out his 1992 season he would never again be a threat to steal a base. 

Limited to just a dozen games in 1992, Ozzie came back in ’93 to hit .280 for the ChiSox.  For the first time in his career he was able to play on the big stage as the White Sox made the postseason.  He hit .273 in an ALCS loss to the Blue Jays.  He wouldn’t play in the postseason again until he left Chicago.  During the strike shortened 1994 campaign, Ozzie set a personal best single season batting average of .288.  With each passing year he became more and more difficult to strikeout and in 1996 and ’97 he was the hardest player to whiff in the American League.

Ozzie posted a .981 fielding percentage in ’96 and at the age of 33 in 1997 he scored 59 runs.  Chicago was unable to get back to the postseason and the championship hungry Guillen signed with the Orioles as a free agent.  After a rocky start he was released by Baltimore but Bobby Cox swooped in and picked him up to serve as a valuable part-time shortstop for his Braves.  Atlanta made the postseason as usual under Cox that year and Ozzie hit Padres pitchers at a .417 clip in the NLCS but the Braves lost to the Friars.  However, Guillen would get his World Series look in 1999 when the Braves won the NL flag by defeating the Astros in the Division Series and the Mets in the NLCS.  He appeared in three World Series games but was unable to get a hit against the champion Yankees.  He spent one last year in the Majors with the 2000 Devil Rays.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,993/R 773/H 1,764/2B 275/3B 69/HR 28/RBI 619/SB 169/BB 239/SO 511/BA .264/OBP .287/SA .338

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