Silent Archimedes

Ken Griffey, Jr., the forgotten super hero…

Posted by silentarchimedes on May 23, 2008

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports raises an interesting observation in his sports column today, Griffey and the silent 600 – how there is absolutely no buzz about Ken Griffey, Jr. reaching 600 home runs for his career. However, he only mentions one reason – the negative influence of the steroid era. To me, as a big Yankee fan, it is much more than that reason that Griffey has completely slid into my baseball subconscious. Here are my reasons, in order of influence:

1. Steroids and other performance enhancing drugs – Yes, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, and the whole Mitchell Report has changed the way we look at home runs forever.

2. Never met expectations – When Griffey was at his prime in Seattle, he was heralded as the one that would break Aaron’s career 755 home run record, and Maris’ single-season 61 homers. He came into the league at 19 years old. From 1989-1992, he hit 87 homers, and averaged 21.75 per season. Then, from 1993-2000, he hit 351 homers and averaged 43.9 homers/season. By the time he was 31, he had already hit 438 home runs, and averaged 36.5 per season in his career! He was staying ahead of the curve that everyone projected he needed to beat Aaron’s record. All he needed to average the next 10 years was 31.7 homers to tie Aaron. He was in his prime in 2000 at 31 years old. Everything was in his favor as he chased the record in his home town. It never happened… From 2001-2007, he hit 155 home runs, and only average 22.14 per season. People lost interest in him… they wanted to forget how a super hero came back down to earth.
Courtesy of GoCubsGo.com


3. Injuries – One of the main reasons he dropped so precipitiously from 2001-2007 were the injuries. They weren’t just typical injuries related to aging, they were just weird and frustrating. And he was still young. He would come back from one injury, only to have a freak injury a couple of weeks later! From 1989-2000, he averaged 140 games per season. From 2001-2007 he averaged 99.7 games.

4. Where are the ESPN highlights? – We were so used to seeing regular highlights of Griffey in the 1990s, either of his hitting prowess or his amazing centerfield plays. The only things we saw of him afterwards were of his injuries. It became gut wrenching to watch him play centerfield or steal a base. We were so afraid he’d tweak his hamstring or have another freak injury.

5. Cincinnati – This was probably his worst move ever, in hindsight. Everything seemed perfect for him in Seattle. He was doing well, he had a young A-Rod hitting in front of him, and Randy Johnson was lights out. The fans adored him, more than A-Rod at that time. Cincinnati is a small baseball city, with limited exposure. They have not competed for the pennant in years. Brown also questions why Cincinnati fans aren’t celebrating more for his reach to 600. The thing is his greatness era was with Seattle. He’s given nothing but heartache to the fans in Cincinnati.

Courtesy of Reds Enquirer


6. Never broke single season home run record – Even though Griffey will not break the career home run record, he also never broke the single season record during his great period. He hit 56 home runs two years in a row. We so wanted him to. Then, the second time he did it in 1998 was during the McGwire-Sosa season. He was over-shadowed forever. So close, yet so far…

7. Other players have taken over spotlight – The truth is, when Griffey started having injuries, younger stars simply took over the spotlight, A-Rod, Pujols, Ortiz, Ramirez, Soriano, etc etc. He seems forgotten, from a period long ago.

8. In historical perspective – So in the end, what can we say of Griffey? His career average is now below .300 (.289). He has less than 3000 hits (2601), less than 500 doubles (480, only 24.9/season), less than 2000 RBIs (1723, 90.6/season). Great numbers, but nothing like we thought it would end.

KEN GRIFFEY JR CAREER STATS – as of 05/22/08

SEA TM G AB R H 2B HR RBI AVG OBP OPS
1989 Sea 127 455 61 120 23 16 61 .264 .329 .749
1990 Sea 155 597 91 179 28 22 80 .300 .366 .847
1991 Sea 154 548 76 179 42 22 100 .327 .399 .926
1992 Sea 142 565 83 174 39 27 103 .308 .361 .896
1993 Sea 156 582 113 180 38 45 109 .309 .408 1.025
1994 Sea 111 433 94 140 24 40 90 .323 .402 1.076
1995 Sea 72 260 52 67 7 17 42 .258 .379 .860
1996 Sea 140 545 125 165 26 49 140 .303 .392 1.020
1997 Sea 157 608 125 185 34 56 147 .304 .382 1.028
1998 Sea 161 633 120 180 33 56 146 .284 .365 .976
1999 Sea 160 606 123 173 26 48 134 .285 .384 .960
2000 Cin 145 520 100 141 22 40 118 .271 .387 .943
2001 Cin 111 364 57 104 20 22 65 .286 .365 .898
2002 Cin 70 197 17 52 8 8 23 .264 .358 .784
2003 Cin 53 166 34 41 12 13 26 .247 .370 .936
2004 Cin 83 300 49 76 18 20 60 .253 .351 .864
2005 Cin 128 491 85 148 30 35 92 .301 .369 .945
2006 Cin 109 428 62 108 19 27 72 .252 .316 .802
2007 Cin 144 528 78 146 24 30 93 .277 .372 .868
2008 Cin 46 170 20 43 7 5 22 .253 .340 .722
Total 2424 8996 1565 2601 480 598 1723 .289 .373 .923

You know, I didn’t even know Griffey was on the doorstep of 600. As a matter of fact, for the past few seasons I never heard about him, except during trade deadline when rumors of Griffey coming to the Yankees appear.

It is sad that he seems a forgotten man. The beautiful swing, the beautiful catches, the Kid… I think MLB should be doing more to remind people of Griffey and 600…

Congratulations Griffey!

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2 Responses to “Ken Griffey, Jr., the forgotten super hero…”

  1. John Paul said

    Great Article. My favorite baseball player of all time is Ken Griffey Jr. Growing up in the lates 80s early 90s there was no one better than Junior. Even though I lived on the east coast and I am a die-hard Mets fan he was still my favorite player. And Even with all the injuries Griffey just hit his 600 HR Steriod Free, so in my book that makes him # 4 on the all time HR list. I hope he goes to a contender in the near future and gets his shot at a ring and maybe come back into the spotlight

  2. silentarchimedes said

    Thanks for the comments, John. I totally agree with you, except for the Mets fan part. I’m a die hard Yankees fan. Looks like both have their problems this year.

    There are rumors swirling now that Griffey might be traded to the Rays. And they said because he wanted to go a contender. I can’t believe the Rays are considered a contender this year.

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