Blog Entry

At 44, Vizquel not close to retirement

Posted on: April 24, 2011 10:50 pm
 
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Omar VizquelWhite Sox utility man Omar Vizquel turned 44 on Sunday, but says he doesn't see the end of his career coming anytime soon.

"As long as the body is OK, and [I'm] performing and doing what I ask it to do," Vizquel told the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales when asked if he could be celebrating more birthdays on the field. "Right now there's no reason I can't. I am going to keep trying to play. I don't need to be on a table getting massages, or [in] a Jacuzzi or need a personal trainer with me on the road trips. I feel like I can still do the same things I've been doing for all these years."

With an 0-for-3 day on Sunsday, Vizquel's average dipped to .308. But that's not too bad for a 44-year-old. He started at second base on Sunday, the third time he's started there this season. He's also started games at shortstop and third base. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Bobby Wallace of the Cardinals has played shortstop past his 44th birthday -- and that was 93 years ago.

"[Vizuqel] saved our [rears] last year, big-time, and continues to do it," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I need to put him out there because we need a break and he shows up to perform the way he does. That's not an easy thing to do."

Last season, in his first with Chicago, Vizquel hit .276/.341/.391. This season he's hitting .308/.357/.346.

Vizquel has 2,807 career hits but may need to play again at least next season to reach 3,000. He had 95 hits last season with the White Sox, but only 106 combined in 2008 and 2009. If he plays into 2013, he'd have a realistic shot at 3,000, which would guarantee him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

With 11 Gold Gloves at the game's most important defensive position, Vizquel is among the best to ever play as a defensive player, but is often overlooked because of the offensive shortstops of his time, such as Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez

Only Ozzie Smith had more Gold Gloves at shortstop (13) -- and only Smith, Greg Maddux (18), Jim Kaat (16), Ivan Rodriguez (13), Brooks Robinson (16), Roberto Clemente (12) and Willie Mays (12) have won more Gold Gloves overall.

Vizquel's offensive numbers are better than Smith's, but Smith was more popular and seen as perhaps the greatest defensive player off all-time, not just shortstop. Vizquel has always been respected, but still viewed as inferior to Smith defensively and other shortstops offensively. Smith tops Vizquel in WAR, 64.6 to 43.3, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

If Vizquel doesn't get to 3,000 hits, he'll be an interesting case. If he does, he's a slam-dunk.

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Comments

Since: Feb 1, 2010
Posted on: April 25, 2011 10:22 am
 

At 44, Vizquel not close to retirement

One of the problems living abroad; I am so out of the loop in terms of sporting news. I wasn't aware that Vizquel was so close to 3000. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised given his tenure a the MLB level. Now the questions that begs analysis is this: Should 3000 hits be an automatic entry into the hall? I think it should simply based on the idea of a player grinding it year in and year out and still producing. Vizquel may not have put allstar numbers up every year (nor power numbers), but his work ethic cannot at all be questioned.



Since: Apr 23, 2011
Posted on: April 25, 2011 8:20 am
 

At 44, Vizquel not close to retirement

Vizquel should be in the HOF regardless of whether he gets a magical 3000 hits or not. He has clearly been among the best ever to play SS and that he has maintained a robust approach at the plate is just gravy. His numbers at the plate compare favorably to Ozzie Smith's and while Omar never did any backflips, I am pretty sure he could if he wanted to. That he doesnt show off though, and is willing to still work hard for a backup role at this stage of his career, is further testament to his character. 



Since: Feb 9, 2007
Posted on: April 25, 2011 7:54 am
 

At 44, Vizquel not close to retirement

He still does it the right way and it shows if you work hard you can play this game well into your 40s.  It is amazing how he can still field, maybe not exactly the way he once did but he still has it!


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