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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Ken Griffey Jr.

Eligible in 2016

DL from MN Posted: January 08, 2015 at 09:52 AM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DL from MN Posted: January 08, 2015 at 11:50 AM (#4875916)
An easy choice but still a "What if?"
   2. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: January 08, 2015 at 12:12 PM (#4875954)
As Bill James aptly described one of baseball's most fascinating coincidences, the second-best lefthanded outfielder ever born in Donora, PA on November 21.
   3. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: January 08, 2015 at 12:16 PM (#4875960)
After his first year in Cincinnati he was 30, had hit 438 circuit clouts and his eventual supplanting of Hank Aaron was more of a when than an if. And then...

(Sorry. I wish someone would fix this goddamned edit function.)
   4. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: January 08, 2015 at 12:24 PM (#4875965)
I saw his first MLB hit, a line drive double off Dave Stewart in Oakland.

Now, to check BBREF to check my memory...

Memory is correct. Fun fact: Darnell Coles was the Mariner clean up hitter that day.
   5. craigamazing Posted: January 08, 2015 at 12:27 PM (#4875968)
Aside from his bounceback year in 05, Kid was essentially valueless for the last 10 years of his career. Wow, he fell off a cliff.

A more moderate decline phase would put him around guys like Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt, where it feels like he belongs, as opposed to the slightly lesser cluster he's in now, with Carew and Gehringer.
   6. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 08, 2015 at 12:30 PM (#4875970)
Is there another player in MLB with a career path *anything* like Griffey's? Mantle was at least fairly productive when he was on the field in his 30s.

Edit: Frank Thomas might be the closest, but even he had a handful of decent years in his 30s.
   7. GregD Posted: January 08, 2015 at 12:32 PM (#4875972)
I was surprised by how slam-dunk Griffey's case was. Even though I am the right age to remember him, my memory had been clouded by

--his dreadful last decade
--especially as a Reds fan

but beyond that I had retroactively discounted his earlier years because I
--never thought he was as good as Barry Bonds
--though A-Rod was really the best player on the Mariners
--didn't remember him taking as many walks as he did

But his peak was truly awesome, better than I remember it.
   8. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: January 08, 2015 at 12:34 PM (#4875974)
Ken Griffey Jr hit a home run in the first game I ever attended. So, he will be the first Hall of Famer I ever saw hit a home run--not bad!

It's enough to make me forgive him for Game 163 in 2008, when he turned an 8-2 double play to end the 5th inning in a game the White Sox would win 1-0 to end the Twins' season. I was watching it in a bar and was so ####### angry at him! But we're all cool now.
   9. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 08, 2015 at 12:45 PM (#4875989)
Is there another player in MLB with a career path *anything* like Griffey's? Mantle was at least fairly productive when he was on the field in his 30s.


My first thought was Eddie Mathews. 68 WAR in his 20's, 28 in his 30's. Griffey was 70/14. Similar, but not quite.
   10. Rally Posted: January 08, 2015 at 01:09 PM (#4876021)
As Bill James aptly described one of baseball's most fascinating coincidences, the second-best lefthanded outfielder ever born in Donora, PA on November 21.


I thought there were only 3 MLB players ever from Donora, and all were either named Griffey, born on 11-21 and going to the HOF, or both. But there's one more, Steve Filipowicz who played 57 games in the 40s.

Also cool that Musial played with Griffey's grandpa in high school.

Jimmie Foxx had 72 WAR in his 20's, 24 after.
   11. Rally Posted: January 08, 2015 at 01:14 PM (#4876029)
Arky Vaughan 64/9
Andruw Jones 58/5

Sandy Koufax had only 4 fewer WAR after turning 30 than Griffey.
   12. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: January 08, 2015 at 01:23 PM (#4876040)
Also cool that Musial played with Griffey's grandpa in high school.


I read about that in a Musial biography once--going around with a black guy on your baseball and basketball teams was a big deal in the 1940s, even in Pennsylvania. As the biography tells it--and as this is Stan Musial I have little doubt it is true--Musial took the lead in going out of his way to make sure everyone knew Buddy Griffey was 100% part of the team, period.
   13. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: January 08, 2015 at 01:28 PM (#4876046)
Griffey was 70/14.


That can't be the record for ratio as Andruw Jones has him beat (post #11). However, I wonder if that's the record for differential for pre-30 WAR and 30-and-later WAR. 56 is surely one of the highest figures.
   14. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 08, 2015 at 01:52 PM (#4876076)
I don't know if Vaughn counts given that he didn't play for several years. Jones is a good comp.

Sandy Koufax had only 4 fewer WAR after turning 30 than Griffey.

That says it all.
   15. Sunday silence Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:10 PM (#4876104)
Geo. Sisler (before after age 30)
47.8 6.6

his WAA: 31 -8.5

actually including his pitching
WAR 50.0 7.1
WAA 32.2 -8.1
   16. NJ in NY (Now with Baby!) Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:13 PM (#4876106)
[7] Sums up my feelings/thoughts. I had a friend who doesn't know about advanced stats text me that if Griffey doesn't easily make it in he's giving up on baseball because Griffey was easily the best non Bonds player of that era ('90s). I took this as a challenge and began looking up numbers because I was SURE Griffey wasn't that good. Turns out he was.
   17. GregD Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:21 PM (#4876112)
Yeah, NJ, in my head I had downgraded his peak; I was surprised to remember he had 2 seasons greater than any Frank Robinson ever had, by WAR, and a third as good as Frank Robinson's best season. He did not, needless to say, match F-Robby in 3-5 WAR seasons, but still it was a more awesome peak than I remembered.
   18. Sunday silence Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:22 PM (#4876114)
Hal Trosky
WAR 29.8 0.6
WAA 13.4 -2.0
   19. Monty Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:32 PM (#4876122)
Those mid-nineties Mariners were a lot of fun to watch.
   20. dlf Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:39 PM (#4876131)
First MLB player younger than me. I was watching the M's game when he and his dad hit back-to-back homers. Tons of fun to watch hit. Other than one outlier season, advanced stats don't really like his defense, but visually, during his Mariner years, he appeared to be very, very good. I wonder what the views of his D are around here.
   21. Rally Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:48 PM (#4876141)
And incredibly frustrating to root for. The 1998 team:

Griffey with 56 HR, 146 RBI winning a gold glove in center
A-Rod hitting .310 and doing 40/40 at short
Edgar playing every day and hitting 322/429/565
Johnson striking out 213 in 160 innings (though a 4.33 ERA and 9-10 record before trade)
Jamie Moyer with 15 wins and 3.53 ERA
Lou Piniella managing

And they finish 76-85
   22. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:51 PM (#4876145)
And of course three years later, without Griffey, A-Rod or Johnson, they finish 116-46. Baseball, man.
   23. Rally Posted: January 08, 2015 at 02:57 PM (#4876151)
First MLB player younger than me. I was watching the M's game when he and his dad hit back-to-back homers. Tons of fun to watch hit. Other than one outlier season, advanced stats don't really like his defense, but visually, during his Mariner years, he appeared to be very, very good. I wonder what the views of his D are around here.


That assessment agrees with the stats on BBref. He's +73 Rfield during the Mariner years. And gave all but one of those runs back playing for the Reds. He probably should have moved to a corner in his 30's anyway, with his frame not likely to allow him to keep center field speed. The leg injuries should have been the clincher, but for years the Reds just kept running him back out in center as soon as he got off the DL.

I think his career totals would have been much greater if they just moved him to left say about 2001.
   24. Baldrick Posted: January 08, 2015 at 03:01 PM (#4876158)
I saw his first MLB hit, a line drive double off Dave Stewart in Oakland.

Now, to check BBREF to check my memory...

Memory is correct. Fun fact: Darnell Coles was the Mariner clean up hitter that day.

Hey, I was there too! We were in the VERY top row way out in LF. Mark McGwire hit a bomb of a HR out there, but it still landed probably a hundred feet in front of us.
   25. OCF Posted: January 08, 2015 at 03:06 PM (#4876162)
In the mid-90's I was writing a yearly baseball memo to a bunch of friends. One recurring computation was a table showing Griffey's career totals, in detail, compared to Mays, Aaron, and Frank Robinson at the same age. And Griffey looked very good in that company - the same basic offensive "shape", keeping up with all the averages, and so on.

Of course, I was overlooking two things. The first was that I wasn't accounting for the differences in offensive context between the 90's and the 50's/60's. (Come to think of it, that may be a project I'll now do: repeat all of this but use the bb-ref stat neutralizer rather than the raw stats. Might be fun. If I do, it will land in this thread.) But the second thing is something else I wasn't focusing on: Aaron was one of the greatest "old" players ever, and Mays was a pretty darn good "old" player as well. As we all now know, Griffey ... wasn't.

I did expect all along that Griffey would have 700+ HR and a good chance at passing Aaron. That didn't happen, either.

On the other hand, for all of this Griffey-following: when the "All-Century" team vote came out at the end of the decade and Griffey was the only 1990's outfielder on that team, I knew that was was wrong. I knew then that Griffey didn't belong and Barry Bonds did.
   26. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 08, 2015 at 03:11 PM (#4876165)
Yeah, NJ, in my head I had downgraded his peak; I was surprised to remember he had 2 seasons greater than any Frank Robinson ever had, by WAR, and a third as good as Frank Robinson's best season. He did not, needless to say, match F-Robby in 3-5 WAR seasons, but still it was a more awesome peak than I remembered.

I think a big part of it is that many of us (including me) tend to forget that for most of his 20s he was a fantastic CF. I know I tend to conflate the hype about his fielding with his later years, making me think of him as a Jeter-esque player. But that wasn't the case.
   27. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: January 08, 2015 at 03:11 PM (#4876166)
but for years the Reds just kept running him back out in center as soon as he got off the DL.


The other Reds outfielders were Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, and Wily Mo Pena, none of whom were fit for CF. They believed they had the potential for 3 stars in the outfield and still have room for one to fail. To replace Griffey, they would need to add another outfielder and jettison one of the players they thought of as future stars. Dunn, Kearns, and Pena never became what anyone thought they would be, but that's a different matter.

Griffey finally was moved in favor of Josh Hamilton, which ended his days in CF.
   28. dlf Posted: January 08, 2015 at 03:18 PM (#4876176)
That assessment agrees with the stats on BBref. He's +73 Rfield during the Mariner years.


But almost 45% of that was in a single outlier year. He was at +32 in '96 and an average of +4 per 162 in all other seasons in Seattle. By eye test, and by Gold Glove vote, he was better than that. I wonder what other posters think about his Seattle defense.

He probably should have moved to a corner in his 30's anyway ...


I wonder whether his health would have been better without the toil of CF in those Cincy years. Like the first poster said above, despite being a great player, he's still a what-if.
   29. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: January 08, 2015 at 03:18 PM (#4876178)
Heard an interesting take on public perception of Griffey vs Bonds a while back; it's pretty speculative in that you have to accept the gossip/narrative that Griffey coasted on his athletic gifts, generally didn't rehab all that seriously and may have drank a bit too much, whereas (less speculatively) Bonds worked as hard as possible, even to the point of trying kerrazy new substances to reduce downtime between workouts.

But if you accept all that, it's interesting that America loves the guy whose lack of work ethic undermined his career, and demonizes the other one for going too far.
   30. Rally Posted: January 08, 2015 at 03:53 PM (#4876215)
I wonder whether his health would have been better without the toil of CF in those Cincy years. Like the first poster said above, despite being a great player, he's still a what-if.


You never know, but as soon as they made the move, he played 144 and 143 games in back to back years. The previous 6 years he averaged 92. Give him back 300 games and he's right around 700 homers.
   31. Ziggy's screen name Posted: January 08, 2015 at 04:13 PM (#4876248)
The thing that I remember most about Griffey is how beautiful his swing was. How good he was aside for a minute, I'm just talking about aesthetic appreciation. It was amazing that something that fast and that powerful could also be so graceful.
   32. Baldrick Posted: January 08, 2015 at 06:16 PM (#4876410)
But almost 45% of that was in a single outlier year. He was at +32 in '96 and an average of +4 per 162 in all other seasons in Seattle. By eye test, and by Gold Glove vote, he was better than that. I wonder what other posters think about his Seattle defense.

Well, yes, it's driven mostly by one big season. But it's also dragged down by a few negative numbers. And there is a solid run of seasons where he was regularly good for somewhere around 10 runs a year. It's not that surprising to get an outlier or two around a generally very positive record.
   33. shoewizard Posted: January 08, 2015 at 06:52 PM (#4876435)
I went to This game while on vacation in Seattle in 1994.

He put on a hell of a show. He homered in his first two AB's. He came up in the bottom of the 9th with 1 out and a man on, and on the first pinch they had him BUNTING ! Even back then I was jumping out of my seat screaming. I couldn't believe how stupid it was to have the premier power hitter in the game trying to bunt when he could just knock the guy in, even from first base.

So of course he fouls it off, goes into a 0-1 hole and ends up striking out.

So of course in the 11th, now down two runs, he doubles with one out and nobody on and gets stranded. Game over.

It was a great day. Saw 11 innings of an exciting game. Saw Griffey put on a show. Got pretty wasted on ballpark beer. And for once, my memory didn't fail me.

16th all time in WAA through age 30
   34. Batman Posted: January 08, 2015 at 07:44 PM (#4876458)
The #2 pick behind Griffey was Mark Merchant. Merchant's Wikipedia page reads like we should expect big things from him in 1994.
   35. Curse of the Andino Posted: January 08, 2015 at 08:07 PM (#4876471)
I remember being worried when he broke his wrist that he wouldn't be the same player after. I was in Alaska at the time, waiting for the fish to start. He did recover from that injury, at least.
   36. Toby Posted: January 08, 2015 at 08:21 PM (#4876481)
Darryl Strawberry 40.1/1.9
   37. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: January 08, 2015 at 08:24 PM (#4876484)
But almost 45% of that was in a single outlier year. He was at +32 in '96 and an average of +4 per 162 in all other seasons in Seattle.
The +32 might be an outlier, but so is the -13. He looks decent for the first 5 seasons, great for 5 (remember, he put up +25 over '94-95 while only playing 183 games due to strike/lockout/injuries), then the end (with one more good year in Cinci).
On the other hand, for all of this Griffey-following: when the "All-Century" team vote came out at the end of the decade and Griffey was the only 1990's outfielder on that team, I knew that was was wrong. I knew then that Griffey didn't belong and Barry Bonds did.
Per BBRef, Griffey was 7th in WAR among OFs through age-29 (his last full season before the vote) and was in the middle of another very good season. 2nd in HR, 4th in RBI, 5th in total bases among all players through age-29. He'd won all 10 of his GG by then (and by the advanced stats, he was having another good defensive year in '00 too).

Sure Bonds belonged, but it wasn't clear he should be there ahead of Griffey; both had already eclipsed Rose's career.
   38. OCF Posted: January 08, 2015 at 08:44 PM (#4876494)
Ken "Trey" Griffey III is a wide receiver for the University of Arizona. I have no idea what that does or doesn't say about how sports talent is partitioned between various sports these days.
   39. Ziggy's screen name Posted: January 08, 2015 at 09:51 PM (#4876516)
KG III could just be better at football than at baseball.

The list linked to in 33 is interesting. Not trying for a thread hijack here, but what's really interesting is that Trout is 10 wins from overtaking Yount at the bottom of the list, and at his current rate, he'll do that in less than two years. And still have five and a half years left to climb up the list.
   40. Ziggy's screen name Posted: January 08, 2015 at 09:53 PM (#4876520)
Oh, and if he keeps up his current pace, he'll lead Hornsby for #1 by about five wins when he turns 30. Big "if" of course, but yowza.
   41. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 09, 2015 at 10:18 AM (#4876688)
I forgot about Strawberry. That's a good comp (albeit at a lower level).
   42. John DiFool2 Posted: January 09, 2015 at 05:04 PM (#4877085)
Has there ever been a player, at a prime-defensive position, who went from a near-elite defender when young to complete, below-replacement defensive dogmeat in his 30's, absent any major injury to the wheels of course?
   43. DL from MN Posted: January 09, 2015 at 05:36 PM (#4877100)
Has there ever been a player, at a prime-defensive position, who went from a near-elite defender when young to complete, below-replacement defensive dogmeat in his 30's, absent any major injury to the wheels of course?


Andruw Jones

Chuck Knoblauch was pretty good until he was awful.
   44. Eddo Posted: January 09, 2015 at 05:53 PM (#4877109)
It's enough to make me forgive him for Game 163 in 2008, when he turned an 8-2 double play to end the 5th inning in a game the White Sox would win 1-0 to end the Twins' season. I was watching it in a bar and was so ####### angry at him! But we're all cool now.

Honestly, this is probably the single greatest sports moment in my memory.

I'm a White Sox fan, but Griffey was my favorite player growing up (and ever). My childhood dream was finally realized, when a washed-up Junior was acquired by Kenny Williams.

Then, in the most instense game I've ever been to, Griffey throws Cuddyer out at home to preserve a 0-0 game.
   45. cookiedabookie Posted: January 12, 2015 at 04:35 PM (#4879307)
However, I wonder if that's the record for differential for pre-30 WAR and 30-and-later WAR. 56 is surely one of the highest figures.


Mickey Mantle - 84.2 WAR pre-30, 25.5 WAR 30+, 58.7 diff
   46. SoCalDemon Posted: January 15, 2015 at 12:50 PM (#4881614)
Kid Nichols: 98 pre-30/ 18.5 post

EDIT: John Clarkson: 75.5 before, 10.2 after

EDIT 2: Jim McCormick: 72.9 before, 2.6 after

Those 1880s pitchers burned out pretty quick...

EDIT 3: Amos Rusie: 69.2, -.7

EDIT 4: Tommy Bond,: 61.1, out of the majors by 28.
   47. SoCalDemon Posted: January 15, 2015 at 01:08 PM (#4881644)
Not a news flash, but Kid Nichols was a hell of a pitcher. As far as I can tell, he has the greatest difference between pre-30 and 30+ bWAR of any player ever, yet he had 10 WAA, 1070 innings of 115 ERA+ post-30 (plus going 47-19 in Kansas City at ages 32-33). That is not bad for a decline phase.
   48. Jeltzandini Posted: January 15, 2015 at 01:30 PM (#4881664)
Not a news flash, but Kid Nichols was a hell of a pitcher.


And famously, not a sissy.
   49. Thok Posted: February 02, 2015 at 08:40 AM (#4891641)
I'm sort of surprised Ernie Banks hasn't been mentioned as somebody with a similar career arc to Griffey.
   50. bjhanke Posted: May 20, 2015 at 11:40 AM (#4960200)
I don't think of Banks as similar to Griffey because there is no clear nasty injury that marks the dividing point. Hal Trosky developed killer migraines that ended his career. George Sisler was beaned very late in 1922, missed all of 23, and came back with double vision. He was, according to Win Shares, exactly half the player after 1923 (about 14 Win Shares per season) than he was through 1922 (about 29 WS per year). He's also a defense example. Through 1922, his defensive rep at 1B was second only to Hal Chase's, and the numbers pretty much support it. After 1923, though, he's actually a bad 1B. Remember, we're talking the Dead Ball Era and just after, Baseball people, at that time, thought that 1B was a strong defensive position, because of all the bunting. Knoblach was the guy who developed a phobia about throwing to 1B, wasn't he?

Pitchers of the 1880s generally had careers of 10-12 seasons, including Clarkson, Radbourne, Caruthers, and most of the other top starters of the time. Pud Galvin is the biggest exception. The reason was that managers at the time were trying to figure out what the exact number of innings was that a healthy starter could pitch in a year, and were not aware that this number was dropping like a stone, so they worked their aces just to death. So those guys are not really comparable to Griffey. Also, Amos Rusie retired at age 27 due to having Andrew Freedman as an owner. He was anything but finished. Dean and Koufax are better comps, if you're looking for pitchers.

Was there a big injury in Andruw Jones' case? I don't remember any. I just remember that he all of a sudden couldn't play any more.

According to Willie Mays and many others, Stan Musial was a strong supporter or integration, going to the length of, at an All-Star Game, asking if he could join the black guys, who were playing poler. Mays says that it was quickly obvious that Stan had no idea how to play poker, and that he was there just to make sure the black guys felt included. Growing up with a black guy on your high school team is certainly a good place to start thinking about integrating baseball. - Brock Hanke

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