Voodoo Sabermetrics: Ken Griffey, Jr.
Welcome to our fourth edition of Voodoo Sabermetrics. This week's subject is one we are all familiar with. A baseball staple of not only [some of] our childhoods, but a constant into our adulthoods, as well... except that one time he was injured for his entire career.
Ladies and gentlemen, the video game, the candy bar, the family man, The Natural.
Sooze, Babes Love Baseball
Jolliness - Junior's jollity officially began when he was selected with the first overall pick of the 1987 amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners based on eventuality, and it hasn't stopped yet. He's remained up-beat throughout his 21-year career, despite landing on the DL more times than anyone could possibly keep track of. (See Tuffy's Hardness Scale.) Just a few homers away from 600 career bombs, he's smiling all the way to the retirement home.
Griffey gets a Ben & Jerry's Tennessee Mud ice cream waffle cone dipped in chocolate on the jolliness scale. So good, they don't even make them anymore.
Theme Song - You know what makes Ken Griffey Jr. happy? Wheaties. Naturally, his theme song is Milk and Cereal, an unreleased song by G. Love and the Special Sauce.
Extra P., Bus Leagues Baseball
Name Quality (nicknames included) - Name: Ken Griffey. Junior. I’ve never been a big fan of giving your kid the exact same name and then slapping a “Junior” on it. It smacks of egotism (aw, crap. Now my numbers with white, working-class Americans just went to Obama levels). You know what makes it worse? His true, actual name is George Kenneth Griffey, Jr. It’s a thoroughly confusing name – George Kenneth Griffey is an accountant. Ken Griffey, Jr. is a stock-car driver. Neither of them is a baseball player. I’m-a confoose.
The nicknames are every bit as bland. “The Natural” (I don’t recall him taking out any light stanchions recently), “The Kid” (not for a good decade, pal), and “Junior”. I feel that “Junior” cannot simultaneously be a nickname and a suffix.
I don’t mean to go all William F. Leitch on you here, but is Mr. Griffey aware that he is black? He has all five (or is it six?) tools, and nobody could come up with a more fearsome nickname? For shame.
Name: 2 out of 10, Nicknames: 1 out of 10
Lizzy, Game Face
One-liner - "I had no idea he was even still playing... isn't he like 48 years old?"
Tuffy, Refrigerator Logic and Sports by Brooks
Hardness Scale (Like the Mohs Hardness Scale but with more Tuffy) - Griffey has played under 100 games per season (on average) since 2001. He's had surgeries to set bones and reattach hamstrings, strained his groin numerous times, and been 'scoped more than a WWII submarine movie. Throughout it all, Griffey has shown a strong commitment to avoiding any kind of offseason program that cannot be captured with his TiVo.
On the Tuffy's Hardness Scale of 1-10, Ken Griffey, Jr. ranks at 1.4. This is the same rating as Laffy Taffy. Laffy Taffy can hold up forever on the shelf at room temperature, but it will shatter into a thousand pieces if dropped in the cold or bent without careful stretching first.
Horoscope (Date of Birth: November 21st, 1969) - Griffey's star sign happens to be a Scorpio (The Scorpion) just barely; he makes the cutoff by the skin of his teeth. (By the way, a wager for Griffey's next injury to be "teeth skin pull" can be had at 10,000-1 at certain disreputable sports books.)
However, Scorpios are known for their strength, resiliency, and fortitude while those with the sign after Scorpio, Sagittarius (The Archer), are carefree, hedonistic, and more concerned with the good life than conquering challenges or exceeding goals. Therefore, Ken Griffey, Jr, must be this:
A scorpion shot by an arrow. Tough luck, Kid Griffey.
Jack Cobra, The Cobra Brigade
Neighbor Quotient - It's important to be a good Father and Ken Griffey, Jr. seems to be just that as he's always tried to include his three children whether it be by bringing them to the ballpark or by changing his jersey number to honor them. I imagine I wouldn't be too far off in thinking that you could find Griffey in his backyard playing catch with his sons a few times a week while he's teaching them how to mow the grass and barbeque in his spare time. Good Dad's make good neighbors and Griffey is just that. Rating: 400 out of 10.
Scrappiness - When a guy gets continually called out for playing too hard at the beginning of the career I have to believe the Scrappy just might be his middle name. While Griffey has/had all the talent in the world you would still see him diving for balls, climbing walls to steal homers and sliding into home for the winning run in an important playoff game. While some think that Griffey's attitude in Cincy has been less than desireable, he has given his all on the field. Rating: 8 out of 10.
Jon Pyle, Pyle of List
Hotness and SMI - The problem with the hotness of Ken Griffey Jr. lies with overexposure. Two major assets to hotness are mystery and novelty. Studies show that if people have never seen you before and know nothing of your background, you’re 37% hotter. This is why Helen of Troy must be played by an unknown. But, Ol’ Grif has been around far too long to retain any of those qualities. He’s familiar and predictable.
In the first stage of his career with the Mariners, he improved when he was supposed to and peaked at the right age, winning an MVP award that seemed preordained when he signed with the Mariners in ’87. In the second stage with the Reds, he was oft-injured but a solid contributor to his team and his skills declined with advancing age, unlike many steroid era wonders. Basically, Ken Griffey Jr. is boring, which is practically an antonym to hot.
Junior scores a Dr. Frasier Crane on the Sexy Man Index.
The exact same after 20 years and a major employment change, he’s still attractive. But his hotness and appeal are trumped by the warm and comforting, yet distinctly not sexy glow of familiarity.
So there you have it. Check back next Friday for another edition of Voodoo Sabermetrics!