He is 38 years old, yet he keeps playing like a 27-year-old in his prime.
That takes some serious discipline and work ethic, of course, but the truth is Gurriel was born to play baseball and do it very well.
He made his MLB debut with the Astros in 2016, but he had been on the MLB map way before then, at least 10 years prior to being a big leaguer.
Gurriel was an excellent international/amateur player and proudly defended his native Cuba’s uniform in competitions for years.
His teammate Alex Bregman, who plays third base for the Astros, gave Gurriel the ultimate praise.
“Alex Bregman said that if Yuli Gurriel had arrived to @MLB at a younger age, he’d be in the conversation for the Hall of Fame. Bregman calls Gurriel the epitome of a baseball player, saying he could still play shortstop at age 38,” MLB insider Jon Morosi tweeted.
Alex Bregman said that if Yuli Gurriel had arrived to @MLB at a younger age, he’d be in the conversation for the Hall of Fame. Bregman calls Gurriel the epitome of a baseball player, saying he could still play shortstop at age 38. @MLBNetwork @astros
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 20, 2022
Gurriel, for his career, is hitting .284/.328/.448 with 94 home runs and a 111 wRC+ (league average is 100).
He has 400 runs and 435 RBI.
He Became A Major Leaguer At 32
Again, he became a major leaguer at 32, a bit past his prime.
Nobody knows what he could have done if he entered MLB at, say, 24 or 25.
The life of a Cuban baseball player is not particularly easy, and was even harder a while ago.
Leaving the country usually means not seeing your family for a long time.
Gurriel’s quality was evident in the international tournaments he played with Cuba.
He won Olympic gold in 2004 in Athens and participated in the first ever World Baseball Classic in 2006.
Big league teams were already in on him back then.
It wasn’t until February 2016 that Gurriel and his then-22 year-old brother, Lourdes Jr., defected after competing in the Caribbean Series in the Dominican Republic, relocating to Haiti to establish residency.
He then signed with the Astros, and the rest is history.