Legend Forecast: Ken Griffey Jr.

Legend Forecast: Ken Griffey Jr.
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Legend Contract Forecast: Ken Griffey Jr.

Spotrac is proud to announce the launch of a new segment to our Premium services: The Legend Forecast. We'll look back through the years at interesting/eye-popping contracts and push them through our forecast formula to produce modern figures in comparison to the actual deal.

We'll kick things off with arguably one of the greatest baseball players of recent generation, Ken Griffey Jr. who accumulated an incredible resume of consistent statistics, and an estimated $157 million over 22 MLB seasons. His major contract came in 2000 following his trade from the Seattle Mariners to the Cincinnati Reds. Griffey signed the dotted line of a 9 year $112.5 million deal with the Reds, one of the biggest historical contracts of all-time.

Our goal here is to evaluate Griffey prior to his signing in 2000, and compare him statistically to the top-paid, top-producing outfielders currently playing the game to determine the contract Griffey could have signed today, some 13 years later.

Quick Points
  • Griffey received Top 20 MVP votes in 10 of his first 12 MLB seasons.
  • From 1997-1999 (the seasons we evaluate below) Griffey was the MLB HR leader.

Comparable Active Outfielders
Griffey was 30 years old at the time of his major contract signing in Cincinnati. We've located five outfielders players who signed maximum deals around this age, and comparable statistical numbers to Griffey prior to their signings. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
Carlos Beltran 7 $119 million $17,000,000 27
Josh Hamilton 5 $125 million $25,000,000 31
Matt Kemp 8 $160 million $20,000,000 27
Alfonso Soriano 8 $136 million $17,000,000 29
Vernon Wells 7 $126 million $18,000,000 29
Averages, 7 $133,200,000 $19,400,000 28.6

Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.

View the list of Top Average Paid Players in MLB

In order to account for the fact that Beltran, Kemp, Wells, and Soriano were younger than 30, and Hamilton a year older we'll adjust the lengths of their above contracts to match his age. Once a linear regression is performed on these new numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:

Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
7 $136,240,741 $19,462,963
Statistical Analyzations, Prime Percentage
Now let's analyze these players statistically in the two years prior to signing their second contract by showing Games, Hits, Runs, Home Runs, RBIS, Batting Average, and On Base Percentage.
Player Games Hits Runs HR RBI AVG OBP
Alfonso Soriano (2005-06, TEX/WAS) 157.5 110.5 175 41 99.6 .2725 .330
Carlos Beltran (2003-04, STL) 156 113 163 25.5 74.5 .256 .341
Matt Kemp (2010-11, LAD) 161.5 98.5 172.5 33.5 107.5 .287 .355
Vernon Wells (2005-06, TOR) 155 84.5 176 30 101.5 .286 .3385
Josh Hamilton (2011-12, TEX) 134.5 91.5 152.5 34 111 .2915 .350
Averages 152.9 99.6 167.8 32.8 98.8 .2786 .3429
Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99, SEA) 160.5 111.5 176.5 52 140 .2845 .3745
% Difference 4.97% 11.95% 5.18% 58.54% 41.7% 2.12% 9.22%
Overall Prime % 19.09%
It's probably no surprise, but Griffey excelled in every single major statistical category here (and then some...) These are the highest paid outfielders in the game currently, and Griffey produced nearly 20% higher than the group combined.

We'll factor his slight Prime Percentage of 19.09%, into our previously determined base numbers.

Length of the Contract
At 30 and with an excellent track record of durability (160.5 games per year), Griffey had all the leverage to get the maximum amount of years available to him, and he did. We'll match the lenght of this forecast with his actual deal of 9 years.

Value of the Contract
Our initial age-adjusted regression provided an average annual salary close to $19.5M, a figure $7 million higher than the actual deal he signed in 2000 and a figure that would currently place him 20th highest in MLB. By factoring in our 19.09% Prime Percentage figure to our original base value we're able to increase the terms to the following forecast:

Spotrac's Legend Prediction: 9 years, $208,448,333

  •  Average annual salary: $23,160,926