Jose Guillen’s career in the Major Leagues began really, really badly.
So badly in fact that from 1997 to 1999, he was twice as bad as the next qualifying player (-5.3 fWAR). However, he did make an insane throw that would make Ramon Laureano envious.
During the 1997 season, Guillen hit .267/.300/.412 with 14 HR over 143 games played, registering -3.1 fWAR. He was by far the worst qualifying player in the Majors that season, with a couple of future Devil Rays teammates following not so closely behind (Chris Gomez and Ozzie Guillen).
Prior to all that, Jose Guillen was among the most coveted prospects in all of baseball, ranked 24th overall by Baseball America heading into the 1997 season. He’d make his MLB debut later that year at the age of 20 and clearly wasn’t ready as he was overwhelmed by the competition. Interestingly enough and indicating of that age of baseball, Guillen finished 7th in Rookie of the Year voting.
Eventually, as with most bad players at the turn of the century, Guillen found his way to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The Devil Rays acquired Guillen, along with Jeff Sparks, from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 23rd, 1999 for Humberto Cota and Joe Oliver. Prior to the trade, Guillen was on the shelf in the minor leagues after injuring his buttocks on the corner of base following a slide attempt; his posterior would require surgery. Guillen joined the Devil Rays in August and became their everyday right fielder.
The following year, injuries kept Guillen on the Injured List to start the year, but he finally produced the first positive fWAR of his career, playing in a total of 105 games. Unfortunately for Guillen, he would be shelved for the majority of the 2001 season with another injury and played in just 41 games.
He was released entering the offseason and began his journey around the league. He finally broke out in 2003 with the Cincinnati Reds and would later be dealt to the Oakland Athletics to help with their ill-fated postseason run. Overall, he accrued 3.5 fWAR that season.
Guillen signed a two year deal with the Los Angeles Angels following that campaign and, despite being one of the better players on the roster, was suspended by the team towards the latter part of the season after he argued with manager Mike Scioscia after being removed from a game. He was eventually traded to the Washington Nationals in the offseason, with whom he’d enjoy the best season of his career in 2005 (3.7 fWAR).
His career began its downward spiral following the 2005 season with Washington (a 2.2 fWAR campaign in 2007 not withstanding). He would endure a series of injuries, including Tommy John surgery, and also rumors and reports started circulating about performance enhancing drugs inflating his performance.
Like so many former Rays with loads of potential and even more loads of attitude problems, Guillen finished his playing career assisting the San Francisco Giants to win a World Series ring, in 2010.