June 09, 2008

600:

posted by Joey Michaels to baseball at 07:49 PM - 38 comments

(wish there was a "more inside" feature at SpoFi) :D Ken Griffey, Jr joins the 600 Home Run Club. Its been a long time coming for the 38 year old and has, perhaps, not been receiving the coverage it deserves.

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:52 PM on June 09

This about sums up how I feel about Griffey. Great accomplishment, beautiful swing. In terms of how much press this has been getting, I think MLB has done a pretty decent job of highlighting this, with frontpage stories on the website and live look-ins of each at-bat once he got to 599. Of course, it seems that Manny got as much or more coverage when hitting his 500th.

posted by holden at 08:43 PM on June 09

I have a pronounced soft spot for Jr. Seeing that sweet swing for my favorite team was such a pleasure. There are precious few good baseball memories for the Mariners. He occupies most of them. Seeing how my team has fallen and taking into account The Kid's (38?) mentioning that he would like to possibly return to Seattle someday, all I can say is: Don't do it. They're terrible. Save yourself. We're done for.

posted by THX-1138 at 09:25 PM on June 09

I hope he plays long enough to be in the same lineup as "Trey" someday.

posted by grum@work at 09:39 PM on June 09

He's averaging just over 30 HR's a year...here's to Griffey playing 5 or 6 more years!

posted by dviking at 09:40 PM on June 09

Even as a foreigner to baseball, the purity of that swing is something to behold. Watching the ESPN career highlight reel, none of the historic HRs seem to have come ugly. What you wouldn't want to see is the push for numbers extend his career overlong. His place in Cooperstown is already booked.

posted by etagloh at 11:27 PM on June 09

Wow. So this story WASN'T about "600: Leonidas' Revenge!" I agree with that Onion article too.

posted by Drood at 11:27 PM on June 09

That Onion article is priceless. I couldn't agree more. He's a couple years younger than me and I've idolized him for many, many years now.

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:38 AM on June 10

Just think of where the baseball KG might be had he not lost all that time to injuries. I think we'd all be saying, "Barry who?" It's a great accomplishment, and it couldn't have happened to a better person.

posted by Howard_T at 08:32 AM on June 10

I remember as a youth when he was threatening to break the original HR record as a Mariner and he was the highlight real every SC episode. Definitely the sweetest stroke in the game. I'm not much a fan of baseball anymore, but I do love watching him swing the bat. A thing of beauty.

posted by jmd82 at 09:17 AM on June 10

Interesting to me to see how Junior's reputation has been rehabilitated over the years. I tend to recall he had a bit of a reputation as a prima donna in the past, from refusing a trade anywhere other than Cincinnati (when the Mariners arguably could have done better with another team), to more recently refusing to move from CF for the Reds when his skill set had declined past the point of being a useful center fielder. Funny what a complete absence of the taint of steroids will do for the perception of a player by fans.

posted by holden at 10:03 AM on June 10

Definitely the sweetest stroke in the game. It's definitely one of the sweetest ones among active players, but I contend that John Olerud had the most fluid swing of any major leaguer in my lifetime. I think we'd all be saying, "Barry who?" No, I think we'd be having a very interesting discussion about "greatest hitter of the last 20 years", with Bonds and Griffey being the center of it. You can't ignore what Bonds has done (pre- or post-steroid accusations) when discussing greatness. As it is, Griffey did get injured, so while his place in the HOF is secure, he won't be in the discussion of "greatest ever".

posted by grum@work at 10:13 AM on June 10

It's definitely one of the sweetest ones among active players, but I contend that John Olerud had the most fluid swing of any major leaguer in my lifetime. Before all the steriod talk took over the game of baseball, the sweetest swing in baseball belonged to Rafael Palmeiro. The Kid has the purest home run swing since Barry Bonds stepped up to the plate and before the injuries took their toll on Junior, my money was on him to break the home run record.

posted by BornIcon at 10:25 AM on June 10

As it is, Griffey did get injured, so while his place in the HOF is secure, he won't be in the discussion of "greatest ever". Grum, Depending on how the legal stuff with Bonds plays out, then Griffey could well be in the discussion of greatest ever. It seems that if the conclusion that Bonds juiced is reached then i think Griffey is back in the conversation, especially if we allow injuries to be factored in. In the end, it's an argument that really can't be won definitively, but it sure is fun.

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:04 PM on June 10

In the early 90's Griffey was thought of as the MJ of baseball. It's a shame that he couldn't stay healthy. In my opinion Griffey can't be thought of as the "greatest hitter" or as having the "purest swing" because he lost it half-way through his career. He has only batted .300+ once since 1997... He also hasn't hit 40 Hrs since 2000.... With that being said, Griffey, at the prime of his career was arguably the best player to ever step on the diamond, but he couldn't sustain that level of play over his entire career. He is a lock for the HOF but can't be mentioned in the debate for the greatest player ever or even the greatest centerfielder or outfielder for that matter. (Even if it takes him 10 more years I hope Griffey sticks around til he breaks Bond's record...)

posted by docshredder at 07:31 PM on June 10

Depending on how the legal stuff with Bonds plays out, then Griffey could well be in the discussion of greatest ever. Regardless of what happens with Bonds, Griffey won't make the "greatest ever" conversation. The injuries that decimated his 31-36 age seasons pretty much take him out of the running. You can't have missed 45% of your team's games due to injury over a 6 season span and be in the running for "greatest ever". Longevity and durability have to be taken into account. It's why I don't even consider Sandy Koufax in the pitching category for "greatest ever".

posted by grum@work at 07:52 PM on June 10

Sany Koufax was the best pitcher I ever saw. Greatness has nothing to longevity or durability. Ask the old timers who saw him pitch and they tell you with a smile the greatness of the man. Despite being in total agony, his greatness showed every time he pitched. Griffy is in same league, a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame and personal favorite of mine. Congrads to one of the sweetest swings in baseball history.

posted by giveuptheghost at 09:28 PM on June 10

Longevity and durability have to be taken into account. Greatness has nothing to longevity or durability. Hence my point about why these arguments are ultimately unwinnable, but still fun.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:26 AM on June 11

Griffey suffered the same problems that plagued Mickey Mantle--injuries decimated parts of and almost whole seasons. What would his numbers have been had he been relatively injury free? It's fun (and probably futile) to speculate, but I think Griffey would have been sitting on top of the career home run list. Congrats to him on this accomplishment.

posted by jm_mosier at 05:24 AM on June 11

Greatness has nothing to longevity or durability Yes it does. And in this case, it's a moot point because there are a dozen players from his era comparable to Griffey. He's in a tie for 77th best OPS+ of all-time. Not The Greatest. Terrific player, but injuries cost him a chance at immortality. If we're going to start giving out awards based on what people might have done with lost playing time, Ted Williams immediately wins "The Greatest" label.

posted by yerfatma at 06:49 AM on June 11

What would his numbers have been had he been relatively injury free? I did the math, and based on his games lost due to injury, and his game / HR ratio (every 5.23 games), he probably would have hit 114 more HR by now if his health was perfect. What yerfatma said. Injuries did cost him a chance at immortality. Sucks.

posted by smithnyiu at 09:37 AM on June 11

Dude should've taken steroids.

posted by NoMich at 10:19 AM on June 11

You can't have missed 45% of your team's games due to injury over a 6 season span and be in the running for "greatest ever". Longevity and durability have to be taken into account. Bobby Orr. Yes, I know it's a different sport and please forgive me if the percentages aren't exactly the same, but I think your logic is faulty on this one, Grum.

posted by tommytrump at 10:33 AM on June 11

Pardon the question, but by definition, can't only one person be the greatest ever? It would seem we need a quorum to decide the definition. I know it runs contrary to popular belief, but I think players like Griffey Jr., Koufax, Bo Jackson, and the above mentioned Bobby Orr do belong in the discussion of greatest ever. For a period of time, these players exhibited such undeniable greatness, that they were head and shoulders above their contemporaries. Now, perhaps they can't BE the greatest ever, but they do provide the means to measure the true title holder (if that can be achieved). So, for me, they belong in the discussion. Until official word comes down that they cannot. Convene the adjudicators!

posted by THX-1138 at 11:14 AM on June 11

Yes, I know it's a different sport and please forgive me if the percentages aren't exactly the same, but I think your logic is faulty on this one, Grum. The primary difference between Orr and Griffey is that during the time that Orr played, he was so much further ahead of anyone else in the game that even his shortened career still put him in the greatness discussion (where he finishes just outside the top 5 on my personal list). Bobby Orr is like Babe Ruth, but without the durability. For Griffey, he was never THAT much greater than everyone else in the game. The following players have at least 10 years of overlapping play with Griffey: Frank Thomas Barry Bonds Alex Rodriguez Chipper Jones Mike Piazza A strong case can be made that each of those players may be considered "greater" than Ken Griffey Jr when their careers are done. That's just among the players of this era. When you throw in the illustrious inner-circle HOF, Griffey doesn't have the 3- or 5- or 7- year super peak that puts him in the discussion for "greatest ever". (I reserve the right to revoke the "career numbers" comment if he proceeds to play healthy for the next 4 years and keeps padding the numbers.) Hey, he's going to the HOF. He'll be well remembered and cherished as an exciting player. He's created hundreds of memories for fans of all ages. People will speak of him with respect. But he can't really be in the discussion of "greatest ever".

posted by grum@work at 11:15 AM on June 11

It looks to me like he is in the discussion right now.

posted by bender at 12:17 PM on June 11

There are six players that have hit at least 600 home runs. Griffey is one of them even with several seasons destroyed by injuries. I think that's pretty damn impressive.

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:53 PM on June 11

It looks to me like he is in the discussion right now. No. He's not. I just said so! Pbbbtttt! Nanananananah! I can't hear you!

posted by grum@work at 02:48 PM on June 11

There are six players that have hit at least 600 home runs. There are 10 players with at least 1.000 OPS. There are 202 players with at least .300 AVG. There are 58 players with at least .400 OBP. There are 7 players with at least .600 SLG. There are 17 players with at least 5000 total bases. There are 27 players with at least 3000 hits. There are 7 players with at least 2000 runs. There are 10 players with at least 1900 RBI. There are 36 players with at least 500 SB. Griffey is not one of those players in any of those lists. Anyone can play the arbitrary end-point/cut-off game. Please note: There is only one player who is on all of those lists (except one).

posted by grum@work at 03:05 PM on June 11

Please note: There is only one player who is on all of those lists (except one). That's easy: Joe Charboneau

posted by smithnyiu at 03:16 PM on June 11

grum@work: A strong case can be made that each of those players may be considered "greater" than Ken Griffey Jr when their careers are done. That's just among the players of this era. When you throw in the illustrious inner-circle HOF, Griffey doesn't have the 3- or 5- or 7- year super peak that puts him in the discussion for "greatest ever". (I reserve the right to revoke the "career numbers" comment if he proceeds to play healthy for the next 4 years and keeps padding the numbers.)
I respect you grum, but that's just nuts. Griffey doesn't have a 3, 5, or 7 year superpeak? From age 23 to age 30 he was basically the best centerfielder in baseball; outside of the tail end of those years, when McGwire and Sosa surpassed his homerun totals, no one was a better power hitter in baseball. He was during that period a career .300 hitter, a regular HR champ,a perennial All-Star and top-5 MVP candidate, as well as Gold Glove winning centerfielder.
Year_Age_Tm___G___AB___R____H____2B__3B__HR__RBI__BA____OBP___SLG___OPS+___AWARDS 1993_23__SEA_156__582__113__180__38___3__45__109__.309__.408__.617__171____GG,SS,MVP-5,AS 1994_24__SEA_111__433___94__140__24___4__40___90__.323__.402__.674__170____GG,SS,MVP-2,AS 1995_25__SEA__72__260___52___67___7___0__17___42__.258__.379__.481__122____GG,AS 1996_26__SEA_140__545__125__165__26___2__49__140__.303__.392__.628__153____GG,SS,MVP-4,AS 1997_27__SEA_157__608__125__185__34___3__56__147__.304__.382__.646__165____GG,SS,MVP-1,AS 1998_28__SEA_161__633__120__180__33___3__56__146__.284__.365__.611__150____GG,SS,MVP-4,AS 1999_29__SEA_160__606__123__173__26___3__48__134__.285__.384__.576__139____GG,SS,MVP-10,AS 2000_30__CIN_145__520__100__141__22___3__40__118__.271__.387__.556__133____AS
Griffey's last full season before that injury run in Cincinnati was at age 30. By that time, he had 438 career homeruns (in 6,352 at-bats). By comparison, after his age 30 season, Alex Rodriguez had 464 homeruns (in 6,767 at-bats). By age and at-bats, Griffey was at the pace A-Rod is now on, where barring injury we will likely see A-Rod pass Bonds on the HR list in as little as 4-5 years. There was every reason to believe that Griffey would average 30+ HR a year easily, putting him around 700 today instead of 600. With those lost games, he'd also be at ~2000 RBI. With those kind of numbers at 38, I gotta think Griffey would play until he was 40 and potentially top both the HR and RBI career lists. You mention a few names, but you know realistically that there are probably only 3 people who, at present reckoning, could be considered the "Greatest of their Generation" for the last ~20 years, and that's Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Chipper Jones, Mike Piazza, even Frank Thomas are all very good, even HoF caliber, but they aren't realistic comparisons to the likes of Griffey. Bonds is the greatest hitter of all time, as far as I can assess. Steroids or no, he was hands-down the best offensive player in the NL in the 90's, and a sure-thing HoF lock even before his 73 homerun season and the alleged assist of "The Clear" or what-have-you. His numbers in the first half of this decade are unparalleled (if it were just steroids, then everyone from Canseco to Palmeiro would have put up the same type of numbers). But Bonds was never the fielder Griffey or A-Rod were, playing one of the easiest positions in baseball in LF. In my opinion, Bonds is currently the "Greatest of All Time", while A-Rod will likely be that player at the time of his retirement. Had Griffey stayed healthy and was ringing up #700 now, instead of #600, we'd be saying that Griffey- not Bonds- was perhaps the greatest player of all time. He'd be a modern-day Mays... actually, he was the modern-day Mays, he just got hurt.

posted by hincandenza at 03:20 PM on June 11

grum@work: Please note: There is only one player who is on all of those lists (except one).
I'll bite- who were you thinking of? I couldn't find anyone who was on every one of your lists but one. Barry Bonds is the closest I found, on all of those lists but two and he his just 65 hits from 3,000 as a lifetime .298 hitter. Ruth was also on 7 of 9 lists, but was further from 3,000 hits than Bonds, and only had 123 SB so was nowhere near the 500SB level. Had Gehrig not been forced out after age 35 due to illness, he'd have easily hit 3,000 hits and 2,000 runs in the next two seasons to be 8 of your 9 criteria. I first took three of the most exclusive lists you mention- OPS, SLG, and RBI. The person you had in mind has to obviously appear on two of those three lists to even be investigated for matches against all 9 of your arbitrary criteria. There are 7 people who match two of those three lists, and they are: Barry Bonds (7 of 9) Babe Ruth (7 of 9) Lou Gehrig (6 of 9) Jimmie Foxx (5 of 9) Hank Greenberg (4 of 9) Albert Pujols (4 of 9) Ted Williams (4 of 9)

posted by hincandenza at 03:49 PM on June 11

Sandy Koufax was the best pitcher I personally saw(stats not-with-standing). Will not argue the point about best pitcher. The greatest player is Ruth, unless somebody can come up with a player that had exceptional career as position player with monster numbers at the plate, and exceptional pitching career as well. Griffey will be remenbered as a excellant player and among the best that ever stepped onto a ballfield. Many injuries should not preclue one from greatness, but should enhance the status because of perserverence and dedication to one craft.

posted by giveuptheghost at 04:13 PM on June 11

Barry Bonds is the closest I found, on all of those lists but two and he his just 65 hits from 3,000 as a lifetime .298 hitter. My bad. I still thought he was a .300 hitter.

posted by grum@work at 04:46 PM on June 11

The Griffey numbers are good, but I present to you a counter-point:

_Year_Ag_Tm__Lg__G___AB____R____H___2B_3B__HR__RBI__SB_CS__BB__SO___BA___OBP___SLG_*OPS+ +--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+---- _1990_22_CHW_AL__60__191___39___63__11__3___7___31___0__1__44__54__.330__.454__.529__177 _1991_23_CHW_AL_158__559__104__178__31__2__32__109___1__2_138_112__.318__.453__.553__180_SS,MVP-3 _1992_24_CHW_AL_160__573__108__185__46__2__24__115___6__3_122__88__.323__.439__.536__174_MVP-8 _1993_25_CHW_AL_153__549__106__174__36__0__41__128___4__2_112__54__.317__.426__.607__177_SS,MVP-1,AS _1994_26_CHW_AL_113__399__106__141__34__1__38__101___2__3_109__61__.353__.487__.729__211_SS,MVP-1,AS _1995_27_CHW_AL_145__493__102__152__27__0__40__111___3__2_136__74__.308__.454__.606__179_MVP-8,AS _1996_28_CHW_AL_141__527__110__184__26__0__40__134___1__1_109__70__.349__.459__.626__178_MVP-8,AS _1997_29_CHW_AL_146__530__110__184__35__0__35__125___1__1_109__69__.347__.456__.611__181_MVP-3,AS
Almost the exact same age range, but just plain better in the rate measurements. His RBI/run totals "suck" because he was pretty much the only player on his team that could be considered a "star". If he played with Alex Rodriguez and Edgar Martinez, I can't imagine what those numbers would look like. This guy wasn't a good fielder, but when you hit the ball like that, you don't have to be one. As much as Griffey can use the "what if he wasn't injured" card, I think this guy wields it just as well. Griffey's peak is great, but when I talk about a super-peak, this is what I mean.

posted by grum@work at 05:09 PM on June 11

There are 10 players with at least 1.000 OPS. There are 202 players with at least .300 AVG. There are 58 players with at least .400 OBP. There are 7 players with at least .600 SLG. There are 17 players with at least 5000 total bases. There are 27 players with at least 3000 hits. There are 7 players with at least 2000 runs. There are 10 players with at least 1900 RBI. There are 36 players with at least 500 SB. Griffey is not one of those players in any of those lists. Anyone can play the arbitrary end-point/cut-off game. Please note: There is only one player who is on all of those lists (except one). Hammerin' Henry Aaron?

posted by jm_mosier at 06:19 PM on June 11

Hal, people at or above Griffey's level in career OPS+ (in ascending order, moving away from Griffey): Norm Cash Brian Giles Todd Helton Larry Walker Gary Sheffield Kevin Mitchell Albert Belle Edgar Martinez Chipper Jones Jason Giambi Jim Thome Lance Berkman If Griffey is the greatest ball player of all time, where is the off-brand Olympus where these guys are ensconced?

posted by yerfatma at 09:36 PM on June 11

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