#1 – Ken Griffey Jr. – CF – Rd. 1 Pick 1 in 1987
Ken Griffey Jr. was an easy pick for the greatest first round selection in M’s history. However, it’s interesting to note that George Argyros (the Mariners owner at the time), had reservations about drafting Griffey in 1987. ‘The Kid’ was not a great student at Archbishop Moeller High in Cincinnati, and some questioned his maturity. However, raw talent won out and the Mariners landed the greatest player in franchise history.
Griffey was Mariners’ baseball for over a decade. He made his debut as a 19-year-old in 1989, and was considered by many to be the most electrifying player in the sport by the early 90’s. Griffey spent 13 seasons in the Emerald City, slashing .292/.374/.553 with 417 home runs, 1216 RBI and 167 stolen bases.
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Junior’s best season as a pro came in 1997. He clubbed 56 home runs while posting a .304 batting average and driving in 147 runs. Griffey was awarded with the American League MVP trophy for his efforts in ’97. He was also scored the most important run in M’s history against the Yankees during the 1995 ALDS.
The Mariners were forced to sever their relationship with Griffey after he demanded a trade following the 1999 season. He spent the next 9 seasons playing for his hometown Reds, but was never quite the same player. He made a brief pitstop with the White Sox in 2008 before signing on to play the final year and a half of his illustrious career with the Mariners. That signing is just about the only thing M’s fans should thank Jack Zduriencik for.
All told, Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to 13 All-Star Games, won 10 Gold Gloves in center field, took home 7 Silver Sluggers and was the AL MVP once in 22 years. He posted a career batting average of .284 while slugging 630 home runs and driving in 1836 runs.
Loved equally for his silky, smooth swing and his goofy grin, Junior is still the most popular figure in Seattle sports history. Seahawks be damned, no one can touch ‘The Kid’. It will assuredly be an emotional day when Griffey enters the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this July, and it will be even more emotional during Griffey weekend at Safeco Field in August.
Had it not been for a string of injuries during his time with the Reds, Ken Griffey Jr. would have been crowned the best player to ever play the game. As it stands, he will have to settle for being one of the most beloved players in baseball history.
Junior made baseball fun to watch, and he will always be the Mariners best first round pick.