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Omar Vizquel says he’s retiring at season’s end

Jun 26, 2012, 7:04 PM EDT

Omar Vizquel Getty Images

Omar Vizquel has hinted at the likelihood several times, but he made it clear today that this is his final season in the majors.

NESN has the translated quotes:

“This will be my last year,” Vizquel said in Spanish. “I’ve enjoyed this game a lot, but I think it’s time to pursue a new career as a coach or manager, and hopefully I’ll get that opportunity in the future.”

Vizquel said his initial plan is to coach in Venezuela this winter and that he eventually hopes to be a major league manager.

As has been clear for some time, Vizquel will fall short of 3,000 career hits; he’s at 2,854 right now. Still, whether one believes he belongs in the Hall of Fame or not, he has had an incredible career. When he arrived at age 22, he was such a weak hitter that most were skeptical he’d last as a regular. Instead, he turned himself into an All-Star in his 30s and then, through remarkable fitness, remained a viable shortstop into his 40s.

Vizquel will retire as an 11-time Gold Glover and the all-time leader in career games at shortstop. He ranks second among active players in hits, seventh in runs scored and fifth in steals.

  1. dakotablake - Jun 26, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Hats off to you, Omar, for an amazing big league career.

  2. tubbman27 - Jun 26, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    What a career Little O. Started off as a typical slick fielding speedy SS, really made himself into an above average hitter with Cleveland. A real joy to watch. Minus the whole Arthur Rhodes incident.

  3. proudlycanadian - Jun 26, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    A class act.

  4. hojo20 - Jun 26, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Great pic with this story. Love the siloutte.

    • atworkident - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:06 AM

      Seen better silhouettes but for a dude it is pretty good.

  5. rooney24 - Jun 26, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    His career will be an interesting case for the Hall of Fame. If his defense is factored in by voters, I would think he eventually makes it, though it will take a few years. Eleven Gold Gloves would help his case. But, since defense is often undervalued, I don’t think his offense alone would get him in if they ignore the defense. He was close to 3,000 hits, but is it only because he played 24 seasons? He was a solid offensive player, and I recall him being a tough out. Almost as many walks as strikeouts in his career. Over 400 steals. Most sacrifices among active players, 35th all time, pretty high considering he only spent a few years in the NL.

    I would guess his odds at about 65% to get in, likely using up at least 8-12 years of his eligibility before he gets in. Does that sound too high? Too low? Too many years? Too few years? No chance? I am curious how others would place his odds.

  6. millmannj - Jun 26, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    If Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer then there should be no doubt Vizquel belongs in Cooperstown.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 26, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      They really aren’t a good comparison. Vizquel was an all defense, no bat kind of SS that has more than half his value in his defense. Larkin was a great offensive shortstop who was above average on defense:

      rWAR/defWAR
      Larkin – 67.1/13.8
      Vizquel – 40.8/28.1

      Triple slash
      Larkin – .295/.371/.444 – 116 OPS+
      Vizquel – .272/.337/.352 – 82 OPS+

      Vizquel was a great defensive shortstop, but his lack of a peak and sustained excellence should keep him from the HoF.

      • jwbiii - Jun 26, 2012 at 9:49 PM

        That puts him more in the Rabbit Maranville neighborhood
        Maranville – 39.4/30.3, 82 OPS+

  7. Francisco (FC) - Jun 26, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    I hope he gets to coach and manage, that would be interesting to watch.

  8. hbdbrowns33 - Jun 26, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    Omar is a Hall of Famer no doubt. He is the best defensive SS of all time. If the tribe had won in either 95 or 97 this wouldnt even be up for debate.

    • ptfu - Jun 27, 2012 at 12:29 AM

      Nope. Ozzie Smith begs to differ. Vizquel was/is excellent defensively but he’s no Wizard. Ozzie and Omar are comparable offensively too–Omar with 50 more doubles and homers (in 5 more seasons), Ozzie with half the Ks, more SBs, and a higher SB%.

      Also, I don’t see how the Tribe’s hypothetical postseason perfomance would help Vizquel. Omar still wouldn’t be a hitter worth mentioning. He hit like rancid garbage in the ’95 postseason and like slightly perfumed garbage in ’97.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      Brown…there are a whoooooooooole lot of people that will vehemently disagree with you on that. See…Smith, Ozzie.

  9. takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    As someone old enough to have watched both Omar and Ozzie play, I’d tell you that they are a lot closer defensively than you might think. I’m tempted to give Omar the edge because of the era he played in, with the hitters being so much stronger, enhanced or not. In his prime, his range and ability to make most any play, was simply unequaled. Also, winning a WS has clearly helped borderline HoF candidates in the past. When it’s all said and done, he should get in, my guess is by year 5. That 95 Indians team could easily have 4 legit HOF’ers, 5 if ManRam ever makes it.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      I would give it to Ozzie because he displayed his skills on Astroturf (among many other things).
      To get to the balls #1 got to on Astroturf….wow. Dudes range was un-real. On ASTROTURF!

    • paperlions - Jun 27, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      They actually were not that close at all. To summarize:

      The most assists recorded by Vizquel in a year was 475 (the only year he topped 450. Ozzie’s career high in assists was 621, he topped 500 assists 8 times. Vizquel was no where near Ozzie’s league in terms of defense (i.e. turning batted balls into outs).

      In addition, Ozzie was a significantly better hitter for his era (94 wRC+ compared to 84 for Vizquel, a10 pt difference over a career is a LOT).

      Ozzie saved nearly twice as many runs/inning over a replacement player according to the fielding component of WAR…which is pretty consistent with the number of assists each had.

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