On January 6, the next class of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced. Will Ken Griffey Jr. become the first unanimous selection?
By Israel Gonzalez
Ken Griffey Jr. is on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. This is significant because looking closely at his stats, one would assume (correctly) that he is a sure thing.
However, as is often the case this time of the year, the Baseball Writers of America are at their cynical worst. In the history of voting, they have yet to unanimously elect any player into the Hall of Fame.
Babe Ruth, arguably the greatest player in the history of the game, only got 95.13% of the vote, according to Baseball Almanac.
Players like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Jimmie Foxx all got under 90%. Even the great Roger Hornsby only received 78.11%. Even more egregious, Cy Young, the same Cy Young who won 511 career games, only received 76.12% of the vote.
Putting things into perspective, it is easy to see that the problem was never the players. It was, and continues to be, the holier-than-thou Baseball Writers of America. Seriously though, the 4.87% that didn’t vote for Babe Ruth should have had their voting privileges revoked.
On an even more serious note, Pete Rose is still banned from the game, but voters are still allowed to cast a no vote for Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. It’s no wonder that certain people are turned off by the very idea of baseball.
Which leads to Ken Griffey Jr. A man who, based on looking at his stats, should be a unanimous choice for the Hall of Fame. Only, he won’t be. And to be quite honest, certain actual crimes would be less frowned upon.
Here are Ken Griffey Jr.’s stats courtesy of BaseballReference.com.
630 homeruns. 1836 runs batted in. A career .284 batting average. A career slugging percentage of .538. 109 career homeruns on the first pitch of an at bat. 197 homeruns with a two-strike count. 111 homeruns in the first inning. 13-time all-star. 10-time Gold Glove winner.
Listing all of Ken Griffey Jr.’s stats would probably take days. However, one thing that is overlooked is the fact that he only won one Most Valuable Player award.
Then, there is what he did to the New York Yankees. In 133 career games against the Yankees, Griffey hit .311, had 156 hits, scored 101 runs, hit 36 homeruns, drove in 102 runs, stole 14 bases, had an on base percentage of .392, and slugged at a .595 clip.
Every time Ken Griffey Jr. came up to the plate, there was legitimate fear in the hearts of Yankees fans. It was like he had this aura about him. Like he was surrounded by this shining light. He had this calm, and yet menacing look to him. It didn’t help that his batting stance was both beautiful to watch and so intimidating.
And his swing…wow!
But will this lead to Ken Griffey Jr. doing what Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, and Hank Aaron couldn’t do? Many writers, most of who are not official voters, have often criticized the voting process. Many find it asinine that no one has gone in unanimously.
Dayn Perry of CBS Sports once wrote:
“One of the most towering absurdities of the Baseball Hall of Fame voting history is that no player has even been a unanimous choice,” “Even groaningly obvious, inner-circle luminaries — American cultural icons — like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial failed to be named on every ballot.”
Look, there is no suggestion being made here that says that Ken Griffey Jr. was a better player than names like Ruth, Mays, and Aaron. However, isn’t it time to change the trend that says that no player was perfect? Isn’t it time to stop penalizing players for playing in an era that was filled with cheaters? Isn’t it time to reward a player for what he meant to the game both on and off the field?
If it is time to vote someone in unanimously, then who better than the guy you hated as an opposing fan, loved as a baseball fan, and respected for what he did for the sport?
Ken Griffey Jr. should be the first unanimous choice for entry into the MLB Hall of Fame. That, in itself, should be the unanimous opinion of those who claim to love the game of baseball.