Before tonight’s game at Safeco Field, Torii Hunter and I were talking about Ken Griffey Jr., his greatness and unique style.
“When I was a young guy, I used to watch everything he did,” Hunter said. “I loved his swing so much I even tried to copy it — left-handed. He’s got to be one of the greatest players ever, and one of the most exciting.”
I started watching the game before Torii was born. I told him I had Junior in my all-time top five for pure entertainment value.
Here they go:
1. Willie Mays
2. Roberto Clemente
3. Mickey Mantle
4. Nolan Ryan
5. Ken Griffey Jr.
Four outfielders and the fastest gun in history.
It’s hard to leave out Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Fernando Valenzuela, Ozzie Smith, Rickey Henderson, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Eric Davis . . . and on and on. But those are my fab five.
Junior had it all, and he loved every minute he was on the field. A player for the ages, and the best of his time. Barry Bonds might have been a better hitter, but he wasn’t the total player Griffey was in their primes. — Lyle Spencer
Chone Figgins has had a career year by any and all measures, playing Gold Glove-caliber defense while racking up some historic numbers of his own, like good buddy Bobby Abreu.
Combining at least 100 runs scored, 100 walks, 180 hits and 40 steals, Figgins said he was informed he has done something only Ty Cobb accomplished. Figgins came into Saturday’s game against the Athletics with 114 runs, 182 hits, 101 walks and 42 steals.
Cobb did it in 1915, the only season he accepted at least 100 walks. It was one of the dominant seasons in history: .369 batting average, then-record 96 steals, 144 runs, 208 hits, 115 bases on balls.
Rickey Henderson, the greatest of all leadoff men, never made it to 180 hits in a season. He fell one hit shy in his epic 1980 season when he combined 111 runs scored with 100 steals, 117 walks and 179 hits.
Barry Bonds had 181 hits, 126 walks and 129 runs in 1993 but fell 11 steals shy of 40 – not because he wasn’t trying. He was caught stealing 12 times.
Abreu fell 10 hits shy of achieving the feat in 2001 with the Phillies when he had 118 runs, 106 walks, 36 steals and 170 hits. In 2000, he had 182 hits and 100 walks along with 103 runs, falling short with 28 steals.
The remarkable seasons of the Angels’ twin catalysts come into sharper focus every day. This is a tandem at the top of the order matched by few in history in terms of getting on base and moving around those bases.
Abreu on Friday night became the fifth player in history with at least 30 steals and at least 100 RBIs in a season, joining Cobb, Honus Wagner, Hugh Duffy and Barry Bonds.