Griffey Jr. Strokes the Elusive 600th Homer
Ken Griffey Jr. is a player who is finally getting his due - or is he? As Griffey slugged his 600th career homerun I didn’t see or hear of any marching bands or streamers. It seems that many people fail to give Griffey the credit he deserves. Truthfully it can be said, or at least I will say that he is the best player in his era.
Griffey Jr. came up in the Seattle Mariners organization and made his big league debut in 1989 at the tender age of 18. He has played 20 years, half in the American League and half in the National, with only two different teams. Griffey started with his dad, Ken Sr., in Seattle and when he decided he wanted to be closer to his family, he got a deal that sent him only a few miles away with the Cincinnati Reds.
One thing that holds true with Griffey is “slow and steady wins the race.” Over his 20 years in the majors his numbers have been overall consistent barring a few injury-shortened seasons. Had it not been for the four campaigns that have slowed him with injuries we may be celebrating his 700th homerun instead of the 600th HR. Who knows, if he had not had the 3 years with the Reds that aren’t worth mentioning, he may be right there with Barry Bonds at the top of the all-time list instead of in 6th.
Speaking of Barry Bonds, it can also be said that all that Griffey has achieved he has done clean. With all of the controversy in MLB with steroid use Griffey’s name has never been mentioned. There will be no asterisk next to his name in the record book.
Since Griffey is #6 on the all-time list, trailing Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa, one could put him up in fourth as of now if they don’t count Bonds and Sosa for suspected steroid use. Ruth was the player of his era, Aaron of his, and Griffey Jr. is my personal pick for the player of ours.
Not only has Griffey been solid at the plate, he has also been nimble on the base paths and nearly flawless in the field. He has a career fielding percentage of 96%. I would have to say that is extremely impressive for playing 20 years in Major League Baseball.
One day, Griffey is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and people look back and truly think, they will remember the sweet left-handed swing of Junior and the prowess that he had in the outfield. Then people like myself who grew up watching him play will think to themselves, “Damn, he was one of the best I’ve ever seen.” Thanks Ken Griffey Jr. for a wonderful 20 years in baseball.
By Jake Doby
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