Vladimir Guerrero, who captivated a generation of Angels fans with his easy smile, rocket arm and an almost otherworldly ability to hit even the worst of pitches for the best of results, was one of four players elected Wednesday to the Hall of Fame.
Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman also were elected by the Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America (BBWAA). They will be joined in the July 28 induction ceremony by Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, selected last month by a Hall of Fame veterans’ committee.
Edgar Martinez finished at 70.4%, closest to the required 75% among those not elected. Next year will be his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot.
Guerrero said he would announce Thursday what cap he would wear on his Hall of Fame plaque. He played seven full seasons with the Montreal Expos and six with the Angels; his statistics were better with the Expos but he won his MVP award with the Angels in 2004.
Guerrero, 42, is the youngest current Hall of Famer. The nine-time All-Star got 92.9% of the vote, joining pitchers Pedro Martinez and Juan Marichal as the third Dominican player in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m extremely proud of that and I’m humbled,” Guerrero said through interpreter Jose Mota. “There were so many great Dominican players before me, and I never thought I’d be the first position player to make it.
“I know there’s a group coming that could give me some very good company from my country: Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols. ... I know I’ll have some company very soon.”
Martinez, appearing on MLB Network, raised a glass of champagne on camera and toasted Guerrero.
“I’m just like the older brother that feels really proud,” Martinez said. “I’m celebrating. The entire country is celebrating.”
Martinez told the story of seeing Todd Stottlemyre bounce a split-finger changeup and Guerrero nonetheless smashing the ball off the center-field wall.
“Vladdy had no strike zone,” Martinez said.
Hoffman, the San Diego Padres’ longtime closer, fell five votes short last year. His 601 saves rank second in major league history to Mariano Rivera. The award for the National League reliever of the year is named in Hoffman’s honor.
In 2013, the first year Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens appeared on the ballot, the BBWAA elected no one. In the five years since then, the BBWAA has elected 16 players, a record for a five-year period.
Bonds, the all-time home run leader and only seven-time MVP, and Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner, likely would have won election on their first try had they not been linked to the use of steroids.
Clemens got 57% of the vote this year, Bonds 56%.
Each has four years left on the BBWAA ballot. Each got 54% of the vote last year.
Jones, the 1999 National League MVP, is the only switch-hitter to hit 400 home runs with a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage. Jones, an eight-time All-Star, played his 19-year career with the Atlanta Braves.
He got 97% of the vote and joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players drafted first overall and inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Thome hit 612 home runs, ranking eighth on the all-time list. The five-time All-Star played for six teams in his 22 seasons, including 17 homerless at-bats for the Dodgers in 2009.
The Angels' Albert Pujols, still active, has 614 home runs. The only other players ranking among the top 15 in home runs who are not in the Hall of Fame have been associated with the use of performance-enhancing substances: Bonds, Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa, all of whom fell short of election again this year; Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, who were dropped from the ballot after garnering too few votes, and Alex Rodriguez, who is not yet eligible for the ballot.
The newcomers to the ballot next year include Rivera, Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte and the late Roy Halladay.