What Ken Griffey’s stats competence have looked like if he’d stayed healthy

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This story was creatively published by SI.com on Jun 3, 2010, one day after Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement after a 22-year MLB career.

On Nov. 21, 2000, his 31st birthday, Ken Griffey Jr. was enjoying his 12th off-season as a vital joining centerfielder. In his initial dozen seasons, he had crushed 438 home runs among his 1,883 hits, won 10 Gold Gloves and 7 Silver Sluggers, finished in a tip 5 in a MVP voting 5 times (winning once), led a American League in home runs 4 times and done a All-Star group 11 years in a row, starting in centerfield 8 times. By a time he was inaugurated to a All-Century group in 1999—over Barry Bonds, among others—Griffey had already punched his sheet to a Hall of Fame. The usually doubt was usually how deeply he would dig a middle turn of all-time greats.

Griffey had usually finished his initial deteriorate with a Reds when he incited 31. That year, he strike 40 homers and gathering in 118 runs, and that winter, a Baseball Prospectus annual speculated that he could win dual some-more MVP awards in his new league. Over a subsequent 6 seasons, however, Griffey would normal usually 92 games and 324 at-bats per deteriorate due to a litany of leg injuries that undermined what was left of his prime. After branch 31, Griffey done a All-Star group usually twice in his remaining 10 seasons. He never again won a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger, and he never again led any joining in any important attack category. His usually coming on an MVP list was a 24th-place finish in 2005, a year in that he won a Comeback Player of a Year award. The subsequent year, he played in usually 109 games due to injury.

Despite all of that time on a shelf, Griffey, who late on Wednesday, still played 22 seasons and strike 630 home runs, a latter sum eclipsing all yet 4 players in a story of a game. What if his legs had hold up? Where would he arrange on a all-time lists? What was mislaid when Griffey’s hamstrings gave out?


When perplexing to answer that question, it helps to comprehend that Griffey’s leg injuries singular his personification time but, for a many part, they didn’t harm his production. Save for his age-32 season, when he slugged a small .426 (by distant his lowest symbol between his .420 opening as a 19-year-old rookie in 1989 and .424 symbol as a vanishing 38-year-old maestro in 2008), Griffey always strike good when healthy until a effects of age brought about a standard diminution in his late 30s. Even with that diseased 2002 deteriorate included, Griffey strike .272/.353/.523 during his 6 injury-prone seasons in Cincinnati (2001 to ’06), and if a ’02 deteriorate is taken out, he slugged 10 points aloft in a other 5 seasons combined. Yes, that pales subsequent to his .296/.380/.568 career line by 2000, yet we’re articulate about Griffey’s age-31 to age-36 seasons. The opening between Griffey’s prolongation in his 20s and his prolongation in his early 30s is not outward a operation of a reasonable diminution for a healthy player.

To figure out how many hits and home runs Griffey mislaid to damage while with a Reds, let’s initial come adult with deputy rates for his superficial 2002 season. We can afterwards take his prolongation in a other 5 seasons on a face, settle how many image appearances we would have approaching him to have had if healthy, afterwards calculate a series of hits and home runs he mislaid to damage by requesting his rate of prolongation from any of a 6 seasons (using a deputy rates for 2002) to a series of image appearances he mislaid in that season.

Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

First, let’s scold 2002. Griffey strike .286/.365/.533 in 2001 during age 31 and .247/.370/.566 in 2003 during age 33. The batting normal in a latter season, one in that he played usually 53 games due to injury, was a career low before to his lapse to Seattle, yet a other rates were during or above his career level, so there’s no need to scold it. Rather, we can tip a change divided from it by mixing his prolongation in a dual seasons rather than averaging it to get weighted rates. The outcome is a deputy 2002 deteriorate that looks like this: .274/.366/.543.

Next we have to confirm how many image appearances Griffey would have had any year if he had stayed healthy. Griffey never played 162 games in a season, and in a 5 years before to pang his initial leg injury, he averaged 153 games, 680 image appearances and 582 at-bats. Of course, that enclosed his correct primary (from a ages of 26 to 30), so we should substantially turn it down a small bit; even though a kind of ongoing and inauspicious leg injuries he suffered, he was expected to see his personification time diminution somewhat due to a aches and heedfulness and teenager injuries that come with age, quite carrying changed to a joining though a designated hitter. In his initial year with a Reds, Griffey played in 145 games and done 631 image appearances. The latter figure sounds fair, so let’s go with that.

The following charts uncover how many additional hits and home runs Griffey would have had if he were healthy adequate to make 631 image appearances any year from 2001 to ’06 (the plate-appearances-per-hit and plate-appearances-per-home-run columns for ’02 are formed on a sum ’01 and ’03 line combined above):

Adding a Lost columns, we find that, from 2001 to ’06, Griffey mislaid 1,561 image appearances to injury, costing him 353 hits and 92 home runs. By those calculations, if Griffey had stayed healthy, he would have strike 31 or some-more home runs in any of those 6 seasons (the “Total HR” column), twice reaching 40 homers.

As we mentioned above, Griffey’s tangible final home run sum is 630, a fifth-best sum ever (though expected to tumble to sixth subsequent year as his former Mariners teammate Alex Rodriguez continues his climb). Had Griffey strike 92 more, he would have turn a fourth male to strech 700 and a third male to pass Babe Ruth, finishing with 722. That practiced sum is still 33 bashful of Hank Aaron’s former record of 755 and a full 40 bashful of Bonds’s sinister career symbol of 762.


Had he stayed healthy, Griffey also would have assimilated a desired 3,000 strike club. He retires with 2,781 hits, now good for 46th all-time, usually forward of new Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. Those 353 “lost” hits would have given him 3,134, good for 19th all-time and usually 7 brief of Tony Gwynn’s career total. It’s value observant that conjunction Ruth nor Bonds reached 3,000 career hits. It’s also value observant that Aaron would still have had Griffey safely outdistanced in both categories with his 755 homers and 3,771 hits.

Looking during those numbers, one competence lamentation Griffey’s missed event to join Aaron as usually a second male in ball story with 700 home runs and 3,000 hits, yet that arrange of done adult miracle would have been small topping on a career that still had copiousness of cake. Griffey’s leg injuries didn’t cost him his shot during a home run record. Heck, Bonds missed many of a 2005 deteriorate due to a leg damage of his own, and both mislaid roughly dual months to a strike in 1994 and another 3 weeks in ’95. Even crediting Griffey for a half deteriorate he mislaid to a damaged wrist in 1995 doesn’t get him past Aaron on a home run list (it adds roughly 17 some-more homers to get him to 739).

Maybe if we arm ourselves with that knowledge, we can demeanour behind on Griffey’s career and see a captivating, all-around luminary who owned a American League in a 1990s rather than a hobbled fable who unhappy a National League in a 2000s. Yes, Griffey mislaid a homogeneous of scarcely 2 1/2 seasons due to damage during his time with a Reds. He got comparison and heavier, he couldn’t hoop a rigors of centerfield (he finally stayed healthy when Cincinnati changed him to right in 2007), and his physique finally gave out on him. But he still played until he was 40, he still strike 630 home runs and he still sits absolutely in a middle turn of a game’s all-time greats—which is good, since if they done him stand, he’d substantially lift a hamstring.

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