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Overrated, yet still great, Ken Griffey Jr. left a mark

Jun 2, 2010, 8:33 PM EDT

griffey.jpgA massive talent with a big smile he wore constantly, Ken Griffey Jr. burst onto the scene in 1989, hitting 16 homers and finishing third in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting despite playing the entire season at age 19.
Griffey just made it look so easy. And there were times in his mid-20s when he really was baseball’s best player. He led the AL in homers four times, won an MVP award in 1997 and finished in the top five on four other occasions. Capitalizing on one of baseball’s greatest offensive eras, he drove in 140 runs in three straight seasons.
Griffey, though, was not the best player of the 1990s. That was Barry Bonds. He never led the American League in batting average or on-base percentage. He topped the circuit in slugging only once. It’s true he had more defensive value than most of the guys who were outslugging him. But the one MVP award was truly all he deserved.
We know what happened to Griffey after the 1990s. Following a trade to the Reds in Feb. 2000, he put up one All-Star caliber season and then spent much of the next four years on the DL. In 8 1/2 years with the Reds, he played in 945 games, hitting .270/.362/.514. Just once did he finish in the top 10 in the NL in OPS (7th in 2005).
As a Red, Griffey was a big disappointment. As a Mariner, his teams were chronic underacheivers. In his 22 seasons, Griffey went to the postseason just three times and his clubs won only one postseason series. Griffey did come through in a big way in 1995, hitting five homers in the ALDS win over the Yankees and then putting together another strong series against the Indians in the ALCS loss. However, he went on to go a mere 2-for-15 in the 1997 ALDS loss, and he wasn’t a factor in the 2008 postseason, going 2-for-10 as the White Sox were eliminated by the Rays.
Griffey is certainly a Hall of Famer. Fairly or not, he’s gone untarnished despite playing during the Steroid Era, mostly because he never looked like a user. He was a brilliant player with a gorgeous swing that produced 630 homers. Before his legs began to go, he was an outstanding center fielder.
I just wish I remembered those days better. Griffey spent about four or five too many seasons patrolling center when he would have helped the Reds more in a corner. He didn’t drive in 100 runs in any of his final 10 seasons. It’s been so long since he was a true great that it’s easy to forget just how good he was.

114 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. erniestar - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:30 AM

    Thanks for the article by Verducci L-Diablo.
    That’s the way to end the carrer of a true wonder.
    I loved watching Ken play.
    Pouliot is an idiot,
    Ask the pitchers that had to face Griffey with two men on in the ninth in a 1 run game what they think.
    how bout asking the Yankees?
    He was a Yankee killer.
    Ask a batter putting a fly ball to deep center.
    you EVER done that Pouliot (almost does rhyme with idiot!)
    Done reading you.
    you frustrated f***k.

  2. Big Jer - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:32 AM

    So Bonds (w/ his cheating) had some better offensive numbers? So what? Bonds didn’t play CF, much less be one of the best of all time there, like the guy you think is overrated, lol. That would make them equal, if not giving Griffey the edge. You play defense for half the friggin’ game. Probably best not to completely ignore that aspect when comparing the two.

  3. Big Ron - Jun 3, 2010 at 2:49 AM

    I love the line from Andrew at 8:53 eastern about going back to clown college. No truer words were spoken. This writer proves the addage that those who can’t do “write about it”!! How do you overrate 630 steroid free homeruns?!!

  4. Chris Thompson - Jun 3, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    This is the most ridiculous piece of crap article I have ever read.

  5. New York Tiger - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:06 AM

    It is sad that the roto-geeks like this writer have been given so much press over the long-time writers who actually have watched games (rather than stats and box scores) over the past 20-25 years.
    Clearly anyone who saw Ken Griffey perform in the outfield saw one of the finest defensive outfielders of all time (including his arm.) Sadly he sacrificed his body multiple times and ultimately wound up losing over 525 games (if you assume his prior yearly averages) to injuries during years when he was still highly productive. If one prorates his HR/AB or HR/Game ratios and adds those games back, you would find that he would have as many HR as Barry Bonds did in his career.
    More importantly, the ignorant comment about Griffey not having the same stigma on PEDs because his body didn’t change shows how little this writer understands the past 7-10 years when every report, every rat in a clubhouse, every player who thought they had friends has uncovered and mentioned hundreds of players without the slightest HINT of Griffey’s name. I can assure this naive writer that this certainly DOES mean something.
    A great baserunner, a 10 time Gold Glove in CENTERFIELD, with a great arm; and then a top producer for power and average at the plate who could have been the all-time HR leader and had a variety of other improved stats had he not bashed himself unselfishly into walls year after year is “over-rated”??
    Bad choice for a title, bad article to write; sort of like a kid who only knows how to get attention by acting out; Poo on you….shows how shallow you are in baseball.

  6. Gordon - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:13 AM

    A phenom and a character. A truly amazing athelete. The kind of player that kids dream about. The best of the best. If his body held past age 30-32 range we would all have creamed our jeans.
    He definately puts horses asses like A-Dud and Bonds and Tiger Woods to shame.
    Junior was and is a hero to Seattle and America and that, my friends, is his legacy.

  7. Jeff Murray - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:25 AM

    Matt,
    I’m a dumb ass, because I not only wasted my time reading your article, I’m wasting more responding to it………

  8. Christopher Bates - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:40 AM

    The man won a single MVP award. He rarely led his league in any category. And yet, he is regarded by many–including most of the posters here–as “the greatest player of the 1990s” or even the greatest of all time. To me, this seems to be the textbook definition of overrated. A player who gets more credit than is his due.
    I might add also–how exactly do you know he was clean? I mean, given that he played with several roiders, and given that he managed to hang on for 20 years, I would say that it’s far from certain. I mean, do you really think every steroid user bulks up like McGwire or Sosa? If so, I suggest you look up a picture of Neifi Perez or Rafael Betancourt or Sergio Mitre.
    And finally, do you REALLY need to threaten or insult the writer because you disagree with him? Because he refuses to worship at the altar of some player you’ve decided you like? I mean, have you no room for a difference of opinion?

  9. Jeff Murray - Jun 3, 2010 at 4:58 AM

    No, your right Chris, I admit, I’m a dumb ass (as stated before), want proof I’ve now added you’re post to my list along with Matt’s. Joking aside, Matt is entitled to his opinion, as with every one else. If Jr was a user, then he might have done it better than anyone, but as the record stands he’s clean. What ever happened to guilty until PROVEN innocent or do you have some evidence to support your innuendo? Probably not, just talking shit like everyone else (including me) And exactly who am I to insult other than the person I disagree with, somebody who has nothing to do with the situation? Just asking…….

  10. Christopher Bates - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:12 AM

    I don’t fully understand all of your questions, but:
    1. I did not imply that Griffey was a steroid user. What I did say is that people are a little too quick to negate A-Rod’s HRs or Bonds’ HRs, but to give Griffey a pass as a “clean” player. Do you really know how much steroids helped A-Rod or Bonds or Manny Ramirez or Sosa or McGwire? Probably a lot, but I’m certainly not sure. Do you really know Griffey was clean? Again, I’m not sure.
    .
    2. That said, you did ask for evidence that Griffey was a user. Well, steroids seem to do two things–they extend your career by helping you heal from injuries, and they give you muscle to hit home runs. And what do you know? Griffey had a long career, and he hit a lot of home runs. Now, did he look like a ‘roider? No, but as I noted, a lot of abusers don’t look like they used.
    .
    3. I don’t really grasp what you’re asking when you say, “And exactly who am I to insult other than the person I disagree with, somebody who has nothing to do with the situation?” However, I am guessing that you are calling me out for hypocrisy, since I “insulted” you while suggesting it was inappropriate to insult the author of the post. If this is your argument, I don’t see it. I disagreed with many of the posters here, but I did not use words like “jerk” or “idiot” or “moron.” The same can not be said of many of the commenters who disagreed with the original post.

  11. Steve - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:30 AM

    you cant be serious!! who let this guy write?!?!?! Barry Bonds is who you are comparing??? The man is a juicer, Griffey is pure talent! you are a bleepin idiot! there are 25 men on a roster, cant blame one man for post season fails, what a retard you are!

  12. Jeff Murray - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:39 AM

    Let’s see, Arod, admitted to using HGH, Manny Ramirez tested positive for roids, Mcgwire admitted, Sosa and Bonds, use your own argument here, because it applies. Griffey, again what other than longevity is there to say he was a user? How about Ryan, Sutton, Perry, Rose, Maddux and Neikro. Are they guilty based on their longevity? As for calling you out as a hypocrite, no, what kind of discussion would this be if we all agreed. Something like . I agree, I agree, I agree. BORING! You get the drift. If I’m calling you out on anything it’s that Griffey was a great player, no need to bring him down for something not proven, remember you mentioned roids first, not me. Be real, compare Griffey to ARod (admitted to HGH use) and Bonds (he did admit to using the riod “the cream and the clear” and that little BALCO thing) or Corked bat Sosa. Am I to quick to negate the HRs (actually I don’t ever remember doing that or mentioning any of those players before you brought them up) or has Griffey had a pretty good run with a mostly positive impact (meaning no scandals) to baseball. But if I was to I could make a better argument against Bonds and Sosa than you could against Griffey. If you don’t believe me just try me. It’s obvious that Matt’s article was written to spark debate and it has. You asked if I really knew if Griffey was clean, well do you really know if he was dirty? Two side of the same coin, again I thought you were innocent until PROVEN guilty in America!

  13. Jeff Murray - Jun 3, 2010 at 5:51 AM

    Alright, I’ve gotta run guys and gals. I’m sending an email to MLB.com on how to solve the whole roid issue. Why bother with urine, blood or olympic style testing. We’ve got the comprehensive, all knowing, no escaping “just look up a picture of Neifi Perez or Rafael Betancourt or Sergio Mitre” test. Which I just did, and ya know what, I’m not so sure about Griffey anymore, or Kurt Bevacqua, remember his awesome 1984 season with the Padres? Could-a-been roids……

  14. Jeff Murray - Jun 3, 2010 at 6:10 AM

    Gotta throw this out. Chris you brought out a couple of points, roids do a couple of things they extend your career and allow you to hit more home runs. You mentioned a few names, Neifi Perez or Rafael Betancourt or Sergio Mitre.
    Let’s see,
    Neifi Perez played 12 season (hardly a long career) and had a career high 12 home runs in 1999 (at Coors field).
    Rafeal Betancourt played 8 seasons with a career high 11 home runs in 2008.
    Sergio Mitre played 7 seasons with a career high 11 home runs in 2005.
    What were those two things roids did again?

  15. james - Jun 3, 2010 at 6:49 AM

    162 Game Avg. 162 686 594 101 169 32 2 38 111 11 4 80 108 .284 .370 .538 .907 135 320 12 5 0 6 15
    G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos
    Look at those numbers that he averaged over a 22 year career and then say he is overrated.

  16. davidly - Jun 3, 2010 at 6:50 AM

    It must be sports’ writers who invented trolling. And associating Jr. with “overrated” in on-line print is the epitome of troll behavior.

  17. JP - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:17 AM

    Imagine how many HRs Griffey would have hit if he would have cheated like others and taken HGH? It has been proven HGH helps overcome injuries faster and nothing hurt Griffey more late in his career than injuries. How can someone write garbage like this and call himself a true writer? I should just get my news from TMZ from now on instead of NBC. A truly classless title for an article about someone that with 10 gold glove awards in center field fielded his position and could hit. Arguably one of the best swings ever in baseball. As stated above Matthew you are way off base.

  18. davidly - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:18 AM

    You said: What I did say is that people are a little too quick to negate A-Rod’s HRs or Bonds’ HRs, but to give Griffey a pass as a “clean” player.
    “Give him a pass”? Are you kidding? Well, it could be because those guys have been proven to have juiced and Griffey hasn’t even been alleged to have done so; unless you want to count your insinuation as making him guilty by association.
    But I’ll go you one further – not that one should dignify it, but here goes: Had Griffey used steriods, he would have recovered better during his injury plagued career.

  19. CTifer - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:40 AM

    That’s one of the worst headlines I’ve ever read. How can someone be overrated, yet one of the true greats?

  20. JSA - Jun 3, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    I see through this clown’s ploy. Drop in an irresponsible, idiotic headline that labels Griffey as “overrated” and you get people reading your article when normally your work is ignored. The real joke is that, after dropping that provocative headline, he doesn’t have the guts or intellect to even attempt to back it up by explaining why he thinks Griffey is overrated. Even if you accept the premise that Bonds had better numbers (a debatable point), how does that make Griffey “overrated”? NBC should fire this guy.

  21. Croaker Choker - Jun 3, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    Now its clear. Matthew Pouliot……. Your dumb

  22. John Miller - Jun 3, 2010 at 8:13 AM

    Yeah, this is just a headline to get people to actually read your blog along with the other guy on here that wears the fedora- I refer to him as the master of the oblivious.
    It’s all about getting people to read folks. When you see something with a headline as idiotic as “Griffey Overrated”, don’t give it the time of day. However, I just couldn’t resist responding to something as unfounded as this-unfounded b/c the guy his SIX HUNDRED THIRTY HOME RUNS IN THE STEROIDS ERA!- because it is so ridiculous.

  23. Jeff - Jun 3, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    How could you even put the words overrated and Griffey Jr. in the same sentence. This guy was one of the best baseball players to ever take the field. Hitting 630 HR’s, all his all star games, gold gloves. There is no way that you should be writing a story about baseball. Ya Barry Bonds might have had better numbers in the 90’s, but there is one problem with that….HE CHEATED….In a time when 90% of Major Leaguers were taking steroids this guy has never once been mentioned. It is obvious that you have never seen a baseball game, or maybe even seen highlitghts of one.

  24. Richard - Jun 3, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    Hey Eric, your gutter mouth is sickning, clean your act up

  25. fasteddie - Jun 3, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    What? What were Bonds’ postseason accomplishments? Who is generally associated with PEDs? Further, Jr’s injuries weren’t the type of cry-baby fame like a tweaked hammy or a sore arm. He broke bones! You are so far off base. The guy did it all!

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