While no one knows for sure how well - or not - Vladimir Guerrero will hit for the Orioles this season, no one with any sense can deny the amazing career he has had.
He ranks 24th on baseball's all-time OPS list. Some of those ahead of him are Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Mickey Mantle, Rogers Hornsby and Joe DiMaggio.
Here are some that trail his career mark of .946:
.945 - Ty Cobb and Ryan Howard
.941 - Willie Mays and Chipper Jones
.933 - Albert Belle
.929 - Hank Aaron
.926 - Frank Robinson
.919 - Prince Fielder
.913 - Mark Teixeira
Here is one projected O's 2011 lineup:
2B - Brian Roberts
RF - Nick Markakis
1B - Derrek Lee
DH - Guerrero
LF - Luke Scott
3B - Mark Reynolds
CF - Adam Jones
C - Matt Wieters
SS - J.J. Hardy
Some facts about that projected lineup:
* Last season, just one Oriole, Scott, hit more than 22 homers. Six of the players in the projected lineup have hit 23 or more in a season.
* Just two Orioles, Markakis and Scott, had an OPS over .800 last season. In the lineup above, five players have a career OPS of .800 or above. Every hitter has a career OPS of at least .746 except for Wieters, who comes in at .721.
* The O's 2010 team leader in RBIs, Ty Wigginton, had 76. Of the projected 2011 lineup, seven of the hitters have produced a season of 77 RBIs or more. The two that have not are Jones and Wieters. Four players in that lineup have at least one 100-RBI season.
An opinion or two:
* The addition of Guerrero gives the O's some of that lineup protection that fans have been hoping for with Lee behind Markakis, Guerrero behind Lee, Scott behind Guerrero and so on.
* Maybe now, players like Jones and Wieters can reach their full potential at bat as the pressure to produce the runs falls more on players like Guerrero, Lee and Markakis.
* If Guerrero picks this year to show his age and his performance radically falls off, the club will be out some money. If he tears it up early on, he could lead the team to a winning season or possibly be dealt at the trade deadline for one or more prospects.
* The Orioles proved some people wrong with this signing. Those of you that said Guerrero was simply using the club to sign elsewhere, raise your hands. While Guerrero and Lee are clearly past their primes, they did sign here and maybe that opens the door a little for future free agent signings.
* The O's can't win with some fans. After we've heard often from some of you that they are cheap and won't pony up dollars, I read several message board posts last night complaining that if the O's give Guerrero $8 million, they overpaid.
If you wanted to play Debbie Downer in all the Guerrero hoopla, you would have some ammunition. Sure, you could say Roberts was hurt a lot last year, Hardy didn't have a good year, Reynolds hit .198 and Lee had a down year by his standards. Jones still needs to learn the strike zone and Wieters' performance hasn't matched the hype yet. Plus, Guerrero turns 36 next Wednesday.
While the potential is vast for this new-look lineup, there are also issues. But it seems like many O's fans are fired up about Guerrero's addition and are maybe the most excited they have been for an Orioles season in a while.
After 13 straight losing seasons, O's fans deserve the right to feel excited if they want to.