June 28, 2011

Playing "What If" With Potential Steroid Users: Ken Griffey Jr. Edition

     The last two "what ifs" dealt with players who used steroids.  This time, we're going to travel to a very bizarre alternate reality and give PED's to a player who we really, really hope was clean:  Ken Griffey Jr. 
     Imagine that the 1999 season has just finished.  Griffey has just hit 398 home runs in his first eleven MLB seasons and has hit at least 48 in each of the last four seasons.  Yet his consistent play is being overshadowed by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who both hit 60+ home runs in 1998 and 1999.  Feeling jealous of all the media coverage those two are receiving, he starts taking a full regimen of performance enhancers, much like Barry Bonds did in our universe.
     Version 1:  Griffey hits 61 home runs in 2000, good enough to lead the majors.  The next year, he ties Sammy Sosa with 64 HR's in just 111 games while batting .371.  He follows that up with 3 fantastic yet injury-shortened seasons, one of which involves him batting .431.
     In 2005, Griffey comes back in a big way, hitting 58 long balls.  By this time, the only way pitchers can think of to stop him is to injure him again, leading to Griffey being hit by 63 pitches that year, which breaks a 109-year-old record.
     After MLB cracks down on intentionally beaning batters, Griffey hits 60 home runs in 109 games in 2006.  That's when things get really weird.
     Being fueled by hatred from opposing pitchers and fans who are now finding out about his past doping, Junior finally breaks the single-season HR record he has been seeking for so long, hitting 114 in 2007, at 37 years old.  MLB tries to find a way to suspend him, but he is no longer taking steroids and there is nothing they can do about it.
     Griffey adds 82 home runs to his career total in 2008 and 95 in 2009.  After playing 33 games in 2010, Griffey decides he's bored and really doesn't care about baseball anymore, and he opts to retire mid-season.  Ken Griffey Jr. finishes his career with a .309 batting average and 1022 home runs.

     Version 2:  Griffey hits 59 home runs in 2000, good enough to lead the majors.  The next year, he gets 52 HR's in just 111 games.  He follows that up with 3 great yet injury-shortened seasons, one of which involves him batting .404.
     In 2005, Griffey comes back in a big way, hitting 60 long balls with a .371 average.  He follows with 54 in 2006 and 65 in 2007.
     However, after that season Griffey returns to pre-steroid form at the plate, hovering around 40 home runs for each of the next two seasons while dealing with scrutiny from the media about his past abuse of illegal substances.  Having broken the career home run record in 2007, Griffey feels that playing baseball has become stale, and, after going homerless in 33 games in 2010, he opts to retire mid-season.
     Griffey fails to gain the single-season home run record that inspired him to dope in the first place, though he does finish his career with a .307 batting average and 839 home runs.

*Notes about the stories above:  Both versions are based from actual projections I did.  None of the numbers were just made up on the spot.  Both versions were made by dividing Barry Bonds's actual stats for each year by his projected stats from the post I wrote before.  Some random outliers in that result were changed to more closely reflect the trends being shown; namely, the 2005 HR stats and the 2005 HBP stats.  This Bonds Factor went through 2007 (as did Bonds' career), so the 2007 factor was also applied to 2008-2010. Version 1 is the result of Griffey's career projection, as done in the previous two What If posts, multiplied by the Bonds Factor.  Version 2 is Griffey's actual career multiplied by the Bonds Factor.  The reason I did one of each is because I thought using the underwhelming end to Griffey's career would be unfair to him.  Blame Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron for the 114-HR season.  They both played really well at age 37.

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