One of the things that I like to do is try to get to the ballpark whenever teams with great players are in town so that some day down the road when my kids ask about them, I can say “yeah, I saw them play in person”. So as I was thinking about that, I thought to myself “wouldn’t an Oreo taste good” and then I thought “who are all of the sure fire, if they retired TODAY would be in the Hall of Fame guys”? So I plan to do a series of posts coming up with my current list. I’ll try to do a pair of players at a time. So we will be starting out in the Pacific Northwest with 2/3 of the Seattle Mariners Outfield.
1. Ken Griffey Jr – #24
Now I realize that I’m unlikely to find anyone disagree with me, but I’m going to make the case anyway. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers that Jr. has put up in his career:
- Home Runs – 613: It goes without saying that this puts him on the doorstep by itself. #5 all time in homers, and the reality is that in my mind, he’s #4 all-time (I have to boot Barry out of there…). Keep in mind that he had back to back seasons of 56 home runs in the mid-nineties which are two of the top 17 seasons in baseball history and 8 of the ones in front of him were by Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, & A-Rod…so infer my point as you wish.
- Gold Gloves – 10: Arguably the most memorable facet of Jr’s game in the 90’s was his defensive flair for the dramatic from robbing home runs to making diving catches or crashing into the wall with utter disregard for his own well being.
- Other awards: 1 AL MVP; 1 All-Star Game MVP; 7 Silver Sluggers; 4-time HR Champ; 2-time HR Derby Champ
- Postseason Performance: Yeah, A-Rod, you probably want to look away. For the sake of argument, his ’08 post-season stats are being ignored (though even with his 2-10 in limited playing time he’s a .290 career post-season hitter). Junior hit over.300 with 6 HR, 11 RBI, 5 SB in 59 official at-bats.
I could go on and on, as those who know me and my man-love for Junior can attest, but the reality is that no one will dispute Griffey’s place in Cooperstown. As a personal note, I’ve seen Junior play in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Houston, & Kansas City (and he has homered in 3 of those 4 cities’ games I’ve attended). If any of you want to make my dream come true, feel free to send me to Seattle to see him play this year!
2. – Ichiro – #51
I am only arguing Ichiro’s stats from MLB, but I will point out that if you combine his stats from Japan with America he already has over 3,000 hits and isn’t close to being done yet. Ok, let’s get down to the stats for Ichiro.
- Hits: Never fewer than 206 hits in a single season. Has the single season MLB record for hits with 262.
- Runs: Over 100 runs scored in every season in MLB.
- Average: Never below a .303 average in a season. 3 seasons of .350 or higher. Career .330 average.
- Stolen Bases: Never below 31 SB in a single season. Had 56 in his first season.
- Extra Base Hits: Averages almost exactly 25 2B’s per year, 8 3B’s per year, and 9 HR’s per year (including 3 career grand slams)
- Defense: Gold glove winner every season in MLB as well as gaining the reputation early in his career for having an outstanding arm in RF.
- Postseason: Career .421 hitter in the postseason.
- Awards: Rookie of the Year, 1 MVP, 2-time Batting Champion
- All Star: All-Star every year in the majors and 1 All-Star Game MVP.
He truly is a legend among us who has quietly proven that it doesn’t matter the competition, he will excel. And yes, I have seen him live, and seen him hit a HR live. He is the most consistent leadoff hitter of this generation.
Next Up: John Smoltz…