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Archive for December, 2006

Will Dave Parker Make the Hall of Fame This Year?

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

                                       Dave Parker

In the late 70’s, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Dave Parker, with a sweet swing and athleticism both offensively and defensively, seemed to have all the tools for future Hall of Fame vestiture.  In the years between 1975 and 1979, he hit .308, .313, .338 and .334 respectively while clubbing 114 homers.  And of course, he clobbered Phillies pitching just as he struck fear in nearly every other pitching staff he faced.

He was a crucial cog with that great 1979 Pirates team known as “the Family” that won the National League East Division title, defeated the Cincinnati Reds (minus Pete Rose who went Free Agent and signed a 5 year deal with the Phillies that year) and went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in 7 games in the World Series after coming back from being down 3 games to 1.

                             Willie Stargell

Parker and Willie “Pops” Stargell supplied the main clout on those Pirate teams of the late 70s, particularly in the 1979 World Series when Parker went 10-29, including 3 doubles, 2 homers and 4 RBIs and “Pops” went 12-30 including 4 doubles, 3 homers and 7 RBIs along with 4 other Pirates who had 9 or more hits in that series.

In the 1980s, Parker had a number of injuries which cut down his production although he had his best all-round year in 1985 hitting 34 homers, driving in 125 runs for the Cincinnati Reds.

But then his production dwindled with age and additional injuries although he was a cog in those Oakland As teams of 1988 and 1989 which went to the World Series in both  years, winning the series in 1989 in 4 games over the San Francisco Giants.

Parker’s lifetime stats showed 2,712 hits, 339 homers, 1,493 RBIs and a .290 batting average.

MLB’s Ed Eagle wrote of Dave Parker;

There was a time during the late 1970s when Dave Parker was arguably the best player in baseball, and he seemed destined to one day be immortalized in the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

An intimidating 6-foot-6, 235-pound right fielder with a sweet swing and powerful arm, there was nothing Parker couldn’t do on the baseball diamond during his prime. He epitomized the term “five-tool player.” In a 1978 poll of general managers, he was selected as the best player in the game.

However, after 11 years on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Hall of Fame ballot, the man known as “The Cobra” is still waiting for the writers to punch his ticket to Cooperstown. His highest vote total percentage was 24.5 percent in 1998, and Parker garnered 14.4 percent of the total on the most recent ballot.

A candidate must get 75 percent of the vote to gain election. Results of the 2007 BBWAA Hall of Fame election will be announced Jan. 9, and the induction ceremony will take place on July 29 in Cooperstown.

“Parker gave 100 percent effort in every inning of every game that he played,” said Chuck Tanner, who was Pittsburgh’s manager from 1977-85. “He was one of the greatest I ever managed and one of the greatest who ever played, in my opinion. He has Hall of Fame credentials.”

An assortment of injuries significantly reduced Parker’s production from 1980-83. During that four-year stretch, Parker batted .280 with an average of just 11 home runs and 56 RBIs per season.

“I wasn’t quite myself as a player,” said Parker. “There were times when I shouldn’t have been out there at all. But [former Pirates teammate Willie] Stargell impressed upon me to be a star and a leader. He said, ‘Seventy-five or 80 percent of you is better than 100 percent of someone else.’ I made those sacrifices because that’s what I was taught. Willie emphasized that to me as a young player and I believed it.

“There were a couple of years where my numbers probably weren’t what they should have been,” Parker added. “But for the majority of those 10 years, from 1975 to ’80, I was probably the best player in the game.”

Despite being embroiled in the highly publicized drug trial that rocked the baseball world, Parker turned his career back around after signing a free-agent contract with his hometown Cincinnati Reds in 1984. Parker led the NL in RBIs and total bases in 1985 and finished as the runner-up to St. Louis’ Willie McGee in the NL MVP race that season.

Parker later went on to serve as an important cog on the Oakland A’s 1988 American League championship and 1989 World Series championship teams and appeared in the 1990 All-Star Game as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I won two batting titles, should have won two MVPs, was in three World Series, was the MVP of the All-Star Game, DH of the Year twice, and won the RBI crown,” Parker said. “I did everything that you could possibly do in baseball and I’m not in the Hall?

“I should be in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “Ain’t no doubt about it.”

Good luck to Dave Parker, may the 12th year be the charm for the Hall of Fame.

Goose Gossage for MLB Hall of Fame

Friday, December 29th, 2006

                              Goose Gossage

 Every year around Hall of Fame voting time, the great, but heretofore neglected names come out of the woodwork.  Previously, this blog had posts on Tommy John and Jim Rice.  Another largely neglected name until now is Richard “Goose” Gossage whose snarl and nasty 98-mile-per-hour fastball struck fear and awe in the hearts of opposing hitters for 22 seasons.

Gossage was a part of the early evolution of the closer as a role in MLB.  Rollie Fingers, who is a Hall of Famer, had similar stats to Gossage but in 5 less seasons.  But unlike Fingers who carried the role of closer for all but 2 of his seasons in baseball, Gossage  was not a closer during his first 3 seasons (1972-74) with the White Sox.  And after 26 saves in 1975, the ChiSox tried to make him a starter in 1976, but he finished 9-17.  In 1977, he returned to the closer role where he remained for rest of his career.   It should also be remembered that Gossage and Fingers were from the generation of closers who pitched multiple innings per game as opposed to today’s closer, such as Trevor Hoffman who pitches one inning or a part of an inning and receives credit for the save.

Here is a short comparison of Gossage’s stats with other prominent closers of his generation as well as all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman.
Richard “Goose” Gossage
124-107   22 yrs  3.01 ERA  IP 1,809.1  SV 310   1972-1994

Dennis Eckersley – In Hall. Final 12 years as a closer of 24 yrs.
197-171 (45-43 as reliever) 788 IP  390 SV  3.14 ERA 1987-1998 (Closer)

Rollie Fingers -   In Hall.
114-118  17 yrs  2.90 ERA  1,701.1 IP   341 SV    1968-1985

Trevor Hoffman
49-55    14 yrs    2.71 ERA      885.1  IP   482 SV    1993-2006’s Barry M. Bloom writes this about the “Goose”;

 Rich Gossage is hoping that his eighth year on the Hall of Fame ballot will be sprinkled with some magic. Each year since the Baseball Writers Association of America has had the opportunity to vote for him, Gossage, one of the top relief pitchers in history, has been less and less optimistic about his chances.

“I’ve felt the best this year, though, about the possibility of going in,” Gossage said from his home in Colorado Springs. “I don’t know if that’s because of the feedback I’m getting from the writers who are calling me or what. The funny thing is, I always hear the good things. Nobody ever calls to tell me why they didn’t vote for me. I guess they never would, but I never even hear it through the grapevine.”

The man they called “The Goose,” who strode to the mound to close games with his spitfire fastball, was heartened by the fact that Bruce Sutter, another premier reliever from his era, was elected during the class of 2006. Sutter was preceded by Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley, three closers, like Gossage, who also started during their stellar careers. Sutter was the first reliever inducted who hadn’t made at least one start.

But Gossage still believes he separated himself from the rest.

“I don’t think anybody did it the way I did it,” Gossage said. “Power against power. There was no messing around. All those strikeouts I had, none of that is padding. Just about every one of them meant something because the game was on the line.”

The Goose’s baseball career line over 23 seasons is a road map of baseball stops around world: Chicago (White Sox), Pittsburgh, New York (Yankees), San Diego, Chicago (Cubs), San Francisco, Yankees again, Fukuoka, Japan, Arlington, Tex., Oakland and Seattle.

Gossage finished 124-107 with 1,502 strikeouts — nearly one an inning — and a 3.01 ERA. His 310 saves are 16th on the all-time list, but he never had more than 33 saves in a single season — reaching that mark in 1980 with the Yankees.

A power pitcher who snarled beneath his mustache and intimidated hitters with his 98-mile-per-hour fastball, along the way Gossage went from rookie closer to starter back to veteran closer and finally finished as a setup man. Near the end of his career, Goose set up for A’s closer Dennis Eckersley, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004 and may have broken some ground for relievers. Eckersley had the added advantage of spending the first 12 years of his career as a competent starter. 

The role of the closer has so dynamically changed since Gossage played that there’s no criteria for how writers vote.

But Gossage’s star has been rising among that privileged class. In 2006, when Sutter was elected, Gossage’s name was penned on 64.2 percent of the ballots, up from 55.2 percent in 2005 and a big rise from the scant 40.7 percent he garnered in 2004. A former player needs to be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast to be elected and has 15 years of eligibility.

Gossage would routinely pitch multiple innings in big games. Eckersley, with his 390 saves in 12 seasons as a reliever, Hoffman with his 482 saves, and Rivera with 413, usually were and have been restricted to one or two innings. Most of the time, the trio would be handed the ball with a lead to open the ninth.

“I think I had a lot to do with setting the bar for relievers and doing the job the way it should be done,” Gossage said. “I went and set up for Dennis (1992 and 1993), so I know the way he was handled, how pampered he was over there. Not to take anything away from these guys, to compare what I did with what they did … It was even a joke with the coaches. We joked with Eckersley all the time. He’s a good buddy of mine.

SF Giants Sign Barry Zito; Mets Lose Out — Randy Johnson Still a Yank

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

                  Barry Zito              Randy Johnson

After reading all of the talk for days about the big bucks pitch the Mets were making for lefthander Barry Zito, the big prize went to the San Francisco Giants with little if any consolation for either the Mets or the Yankees who  apparently wanted to pitch him after unloading lefthander Randy Johnson. 

And was it ever a big prize!  Or shall we say a BIG Price?  $126 million for 7 years pending the results of a physical; that’s a whopping $18 million per season.  Only 5 others have earned more and  Zito becomes the highest paid pitcher in the game. reports on information sources told ESPN’s Peter Gammons with Jerry Crasnick and Associated Press contributing;

The deal includes an $18 million option for 2014 and a complete no-trade clause, a source told’s Jerry Crasnick.

If Zito pitches 600 innings over the last three years of the agreement, 400 innings over the last two or 200 in the final year of the deal, he can either exercise a player option or opt out of the contract.

Zito is scheduled to have a physical Friday, and the Giants planned to announce their agreement with the three-time All-Star later in the day.

Zito’s deal ties for the sixth largest overall, matching the $126 million, seven-year extension agreed to this month by Toronto and center fielder Vernon Wells.  Previously, the largest contract for a pitcher was Mike Hampton’s $121 million, eight-year deal with the Colorado Rockies before the 2001 season.

Texas, Seattle and the New York Mets also pursued Zito, the top available pitcher on the free-agent market. The 28-year-old left-hander spent the last seven seasons across San Francisco Bay pitching with the Oakland Athletics, and staying in the area appeared to be a factor in his decision.

As part of his agreement with the Giants, Zito will fund the construction of youth fields in the San Francisco area through his foundation and donate to his charity, “Strikeouts for Troops.”

 Only Alex Rodriguez ($252 million), Derek Jeter ($189 million), Manny Ramirez ($160 million), Todd Helton ($141.5 million) and Alfonso Soriano ($136 million) have contracts with more guaranteed money.

Zito’s is the 14th $100 million deal in baseball history and the fourth of the offseason following agreements by Soriano (Cubs), Wells and Carlos Lee ($100 million with Houston).

New York’s initial offer was for about $75 million over five years, and the Mets were prepared to go somewhat higher in average salary but were wary of offering a longer deal. Texas had told Zito’s agent, Scott Boras, that it would withdraw its proposal — valued at six years, $87 million, a source told Crasnick — if it wasn’t accepted by the end of the week.

“We gave it our best shot,” Rangers owner Tom Hicks wrote in an e-mail to the AP. “He’s a great pitcher and a fine young man. I wish him well and am glad he’s out of the AL West.”

Zito is 102-63 in 222 career starts, including a 16-10 mark with a 3.83 ERA in 34 starts last season before becoming a free agent.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound 28-year-old was drafted in the first round, ninth overall, by the A’s in 1999 and made his debut the following season. By 2002 he was a star, making his first All-Star team and winning the American League Cy Young award. His 23-5 record led the league and he also boasted a 2.75 ERA.

Zito was also an All-Star in 2003 and last season.

Zito helped the A’s to the playoffs in his first four seasons, but Oakland lost in the divison series every time. Only last season did the A’s break through, beating the Twins in the ALDS before losing to the Tigers in the American League Championship Series. Zito’s postseason career record is a mere 1-5, but he boasts a 3.25 ERA.

Zito has been known for his durability. His 173 starts over the past five years rank first in Major League Baseball.

But off of viewing Zito’s career stats, my vote is with Rob Neyer who writes;

The only thing this deal does is make the Giants look ridiculous. Granted, Zito’s ERA will get a boost from the National League and the Giants’ home ballpark. And this one isn’t as dumb as the Mike Hampton deal with the Rockies. But based on the facts at hand, this looks to me like one of the dumber free-agent signings ever. Zito just isn’t very good. And if he’s worth $18 million per season, Santana’s worth $25 million.

In looking at Zito’s 7 year career, when you get past his 3rd year, after 17-8 and 23-5 in the 2001 and 2002 seasons, he’s only a mediocre pitcher who struggled to stay above .500 with an ERA of near 4.00 each year. 

And all the while, Unit remains a Yankee while sounds continue to abound about his returning to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  But Johnson’s 43 years of age and Arizona’s debt structure may squelch this possibility.  The Yankees’ accountants also seem to be sharpening their pencils, or shall we say, peering into their plasma computer screens analysing Johnson’s “unit cost.”

Phillies 2006 in Review

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

     Ryan Howard   Cole Hamels    Chase Utley

The Phillies had an up-and-down year in 2006.  But their late season charge and their post-season acquisitions give great hope that 2007 will be THE Year of the Phillies.’s Ken Mandel writes this review of the Phillies of 2006;

General manager Pat Gillick came to Philadelphia with a track record of successful stints in Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle. He spoke of adding five more wins to the ledger and securing a postseason berth.

Instead, the team recorded three more losses and just missed the postseason for the second straight year. A slow April and a worse June put the Phillies in a hole that forced a July sell off that shed the team of veterans Bobby Abreu,  David Bell, Rheal Cormier, Cory Lidle, Ryan Franklin and Sal Fasano.

Gillick mentioned 2008 as the next time the Phillies might compete, but the players thought otherwise. Those who remained fought their way back into the Wild Card race, largely on the back of first baseman Ryan Howard, who would eventually be voted the National League Most Valuable Player.

Though a hot August and September couldn’t repair the damage caused by the slow start, the team showed enough to keep the focus on contending, rather than building — and creating optimism for 2007.

To read and re-live the Phillies 2006 season, click here for this article in full and review the game-by-game reports here and here on this blog.

Jeff Suppan Signs With Brewers for 4 Years, $42 Million While Jim Rice Seeks Hall Induction

Monday, December 25th, 2006

                        Jeff Suppan            Jim Rice

I find very interesting contrast and irony here.  Bounty hunter free agent  Jeff Suppan, a pitcher with a lifetime 106-101 mark, a 4.60 lifetime ERA and who played for five teams during his 12 year career thus far signs a  $42 million, 4 year contract leaving his previous team, the St. Louis Cards for big bucks in Milwaukee while former outfielder Jim Rice struggles hoping to win induction to Baseball’s Hall of Fame having played 16 years compiling 2,452 hits, 382 homers and a lifetime .298 batting average — all with one team; the Boston Red Sox.

Sure Suppan was 2006 NLCS MVP, but I’m a throw-back to the days when baseball players were identified with one team, as Rice was with Boston, as  Lefty Carlton and Mike Schmidt were with the Phillies, as Spahn and  Burdette were with the Boston, and then Milwaukee Braves, Carl Yastrzemski was for the Red Sox and as Stan Musial was with the Cardinals.  All of them either played their entire careers, or the prime of their careers with one team and who only appeared for other clubs once their careers wound down and their talents were dissipating.

Rice didn’t make the big bucks until late his career and we all know that Boston did not win a World Championship between the years 1919 and 2003 primarily because of the “curse of Ruth” which curse lore claims occurred because;

Boston owner and theatrical producer Harry Frazee used the proceeds from the sale to finance the production of a Broadway musical, usually specified as No, No, Nanette. In fact, Frazee backed many productions before and after Ruth’s sale, and No, No, Nanette did not see its first performance until five years after the Ruth sale and two years after Frazee sold the Red Sox. 

At any rate, in 1986, Rice was in the same lineup with perennial All Star infielder Wade Boggs who possessed a .328 lifetime batting average, fellow power-hitting outfielder Dwight Evans, outfielder/first baseman Don Baylor and, of course Billy “Buck” Buckner who’s error lost the 6th game in the 10th inning of that year’s World Series. Boston lost the Series in game 7 after having held 2-1 and 3-2 leads in games won.

Boston Globe staff writer Nick Cafardo reports on Jim Rice and the Hall of Fame;

Jim Rice tries not to think about it anymore. When he does it only raises his ire and his blood pressure. All of the instincts he has about what’s right and what’s wrong are thrown askew.

In this often unmarked, confusing road to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., he did it the right way.

He knows his numbers match and surpass those of Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez. He knows that along with Dave Winfield and Eddie Murray he was the dominating slugger of the mid 1970s-mid ’80s. Last year more voters understood the numbers — 64.8 percent of them, just 10.2 percent (or 53 votes) short of induction. He’s only got two years of eligibility remaining after this.

If there is truly justice, when the balloting closes Dec. 31, there will be enough voters who have checked off his name, as this voter has for the last 13 years.

If there’s any justice, he will be elected along with Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, and Mark McGwire will not.

He did it the right way. McGwire is suspected of taking performance-enhancing drugs. Until McGwire’s name is cleared, if it ever will be, he will not receive the support of voters who would rather wait until there’s evidence one way or the other.

“So do you think you’ll get inducted this time?” Rice was asked after returning to Boston from his other home in South Carolina.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “I don’t understand the voters sometimes. If you have the numbers to get in, if they compare to other people you’ve already put in, if the numbers are there, then why aren’t you in? Why is Bert Blyleven not in with all of those wins and all of those strikeouts? Why is Lee Smith not in? Goose Gossage? Doesn’t he have the numbers to get in? If the numbers are there, then why not? Why are so many people excluded? I never understood it.”

Nor should he. The voting is subjective. It takes many factors into consideration, including the character issue, for which McGwire will be penalized. “If you cheated, you shouldn’t be in. If you broke the rules, you shouldn’t be in. That’s why Pete Rose isn’t in. He gambled on baseball,” said Rice. “McGwire, you know, he was always a power hitter, but if he took something he shouldn’t have taken then he shouldn’t be in.”

Most observers of Hall of Fame voting feel Rice would have a better shot next season because this time the focus is on Ripken, Gwynn, and McGwire. But why should that matter? Voters are allowed to put 10 players on each ballot. Why wouldn’t Rice get all the votes he got last year? Why wouldn’t some of those voters who are ignoring McGwire stand up and say Rice played the game hard, played the game right, and amassed the numbers. Why can’t Rice get in now?

“I’ve been an advocate for Jimmy for years,” said former Sox second baseman and NESN color man Jerry Remy. “I played with him and I knew compared to the rest of the league for those five or six years there was nobody better. He was the most feared hitter. Nobody wanted to pitch to him. I think there were times Jimmy played when he shouldn’t have. But playing every day whether he was hurt or whether he felt fine was important to him. He respected the game and wanted to help his team win.

“There’s got to be a place for him in Cooperstown. People have to understand what he was.”

Rice hit .298 with 382 career homers, 1,451 RBIs, and an MVP award in 16 seasons . He points to former teammate Perez and to Cepeda (who played in Boston in 1973, a year before Rice’s debut) as comparable players. Cepeda hit .297 with 379 homers, 1,365 RBIs, and one MVP (1967) in 17 years. Perez hit .279 with 379 homers and 1,652 RBIs in 23 seasons with the Big Red Machine.

“If you look at the numbers, we’re close,” Rice said. “But Tony played 23 years. Cepeda played longer than I did. I played 16. If I had played 23 years what would my numbers look like?”

Though in fairness when Rice was done, he was really done.

What Remy likes to point out is Rice was not only a slugger, he was a hitter. Rice is the only player in history with 35 or more homers and 200 or more hits in three consecutive seasons. He’s one of 31 players with more than 350 homers and a .290-plus career batting average.

If voters had a negative perception of Rice it appears it’s fading. He is now perceived positively against this generation of steroid-tainted players. We’ll soon find out whether his new image, of the clean, hard-working, and, most importantly, natural ballplayer, wins him the recognition many of us feel he deserves.

Somehow, I think that the fans today don’t look at players as embodying the spirit of the home club as they did in years past, and it takes something away from the spirit of the game when both players and teams have no loyalty.  But then, that’s my opinion.

In my humble, players like Jim Rice and Tommy John deserve a whole lot more consideration for the Hall of Fame than does Mark McGwire. 

Here’s hoping that Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Freddie Garcia remain with the Phillies for many successful seasons.

Griffey Jr.’s Broken Hand Adds to List of Injuries Over Last 6 Years

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

That trade which brought left fielder Jeff Conine from the Phillies may turn out to be pretty important for Cincinnati after Friday’s announcement that  Ken Griffey Jr. broke his hand in an accident at home.  Conine plays left field, as well as first base  and Cincinnati may need that depth with Griffey Jr. down. This accident is the latest in a series of setbacks Griffey Jr. has suffered since his trade to his hometown Cincinnati Reds for the 2000 season.

                           Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey Jr. is a veteran of 18 years in MLB, his first 11 years as a member of the Seattle Mariners and his last 7 with the Cincinnati Reds.  From 1993 through the 2000 season, he hit over 40 homeruns in 7 of those 8 seasons including a stretch between 1996-2000 where he hit  49, 56, 56, 48, 40 respectively, driving in 140 or more runs in 1996 through 1998.  He carries a .291 lifetime batting average.

AP sports writer Joe Kay reports on Griffey Jr.’s injury and his string of injuries during his 7 season tenure with the Reds;

Griffey will have the hand in a hard cast for three weeks, then be re-examined, the team announced on Friday. The club wasn’t authorized by Griffey to give any details of how he was hurt.

General manager Wayne Krivsky wasn’t sure whether Griffey will be ready for the start of spring training. The club will have a better idea when the hand is examined again in three weeks.

“It’s just too early to tell,” Krivsky said.

Griffey, who turned 37 last month, missed nearly a month early last season because of inflammation behind his right knee, and sat out 22 of the last 24 games after dislocating a toe.

The two injuries were par for the course for Griffey, who has been on the disabled list eight times since the Reds got him from Seattle in a trade before the 2000 season.

Asked if Griffey’s injury would affect his offseason roster moves, Krivsky said, “It’s not like we’ve got a game tomorrow. We’re worried about getting him healed and going from there.”

Griffey’s health problems started shortly after he landed in Cincinnati.

He hit .271 with 40 homers and 118 RBIs in 145 games during the 2000 season, his first with the Reds. He had a sore hamstring during the season, but played through the pain and avoided the disabled list.

He went on the disabled list in 2001 after tearing a hamstring, starting his run of major injuries. He was on the disabled list twice in 2002 (torn knee tendon and hamstring), twice in 2003 (dislocated shoulder and torn ankle tendon) and twice in 2004 (two hamstring tears).

For three years in a row, he didn’t play in more than 83 games in a season. He finally avoided major injury during the 2005 season, when he hit .301 with 35 homers in 128 games — his second-highest total with Cincinnati.

The performance won him the NL comeback player of the year award. He showed up for spring training healthy this year, and was impressive during the World Baseball Classic, hitting .524 with three homers.

But he hurt his knee while catching a fly ball during batting practice at Wrigley Field last April, prompting him to go on the disabled list for the eighth time since he rejoined the Reds. When he returned a month later, the resumed his climb up baseball’s homer and RBI lists.

Overall, the 12-time All-Star hit .252 with 27 homers and 72 RBIs in 109 games, his fourth-highest total with the Reds. He has two years left on his contract.

Griffey finished the season with 563 homers, tying Reggie Jackson for 10th. His 1,608 RBIs rank 22nd on the career list, which goes back to 1920 when it became an official statistic.

When he came home to Cincinnati in February 2000, he was on pace to break Hank Aaron’s home run record of 755; Griffey had been the youngest player to reach the 350-homer mark. All the injuries have likely cost him a chance to catch Aaron.