‘The 40/40 Club’ – 1980’s – Card #6
Ken Griffey, Jr. – 1989 Upper Deck
I have never seen a player enter the league with the fanfare that Ken Griffey Jr. had. A hobby legend before he even took a swing in the major leagues, Junior was destined for greatness. He may not reach each and every lofty goal that fans and experts pegged him for at the young age of 18, but ‘The Kid’ has had a brilliant career.
Where do you start? With a swing that is comparable to the most skilled hitters of all-time or the brilliance of a defensive genius? Let’s change it up a little and go defense first this time.
At a young age, Griffey was found on highlight reels for his remarkable play in the field. Never tagged as one of the fastest guys in the game, Griffey had a nose for the ball and was able to make unbelievable catches look common. His arm strength was good but it was his ability to get to the ball and create outs, which would have been hits or home runs otherwise, is what made Griffey stand alone. A winner of 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards, beginning with his second year in the league, Griffey dominated center field for a decade with the Seattle Mariners. Making impossible catch after impossible catch, Griffey played defense superbly and made it his mission to make outs of of possible hits.
Offensively, Griffey is dynamic. Through the 2008 season, Griffey had already eclipsed the baseball milestone of 600 home runs. Today he stands at 611 and if he can remain healthy and has a desire to play for another 4 years, 700 is not improbable. In addition to his power hitting, Griffey is a very good contact hitter. With a career batting averge of .288, with 2,680 total hits, Griffey has hit .300 or better in 8 seasons. And along with the hits, the RBI pour in. Junior has 1,772 RBI and has also scored 1,612 runs. He was also a base stealing threat during the first 10 years of his career. To date, he has 184 stolen bases on his resume.
Ken Griffey, Jr. won 1 MVP award while placing in the Top 10 6 other times. In his MVP season of 1997, Griffey hit .304 while smacking 56 home runs and collecting 147 RBI. In that season, he also stole 15 bases and scored 125 runs.
As mentioned prior, ‘The Kid’ has won 10 Gold Gloves. He is also the winner of 7 Silver Slugger awards and is a 13-time All-star.
Ken Griffey, Jr. has never played in a World Series. In his limited post-season experience, just 18 games in 20 years, ‘The Kid’ has been phenomenal. With a .290 average, Griffey has crushed 6 home runs while collecting 11 RBI and scoring 12 runs.