That last post got me thinking about Cecil Fielder. In my opinion, the two players that were hurt most by the steroid era (aside from Roger Maris of course) were Cecil Fielder and Ken Griffey Jr. Cecil was the first player to hit 50 home runs since George Foster did it in 1977. Cecil was an icon. He was the home run king. He led the league in RBI’s three years in a row. Even though his career didn’t last all that long, he was still destined to be remembered as one of the premiere home run hitters in baseball. Roger Maris didn’t have great career numbers but for one season he was the best. Cecil would’ve been remembered fondly as well. However, the steroid era has ruined Cecil’s legacy. I don’t even think younger fans even know who he is. Hitting 50 home runs in 1990 was a huge deal. If you don’t believe me, go to the library and pull up the Detroit News on microfiche for the last month of the ’90 season. The whole sporting world was captivated by his drive for 50.
As for Ken Griffey Jr., had there not been a steroid era, Griffey would be considered in the same class as Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron even with his injuries. I think everyone can agree that Griffey did not take steroids. He hit 56 home runs in back to back seasons. Only Babe Ruth did better than that before the steroid era. In the four seasons from 1996-1999, he averaged 52 home runs and 142 RBI’s. That was unheard of before the syringes made their way into MLB. Nobody hit 50 home runs from 1977-1990. 18 have done it since 1995 including Luis Gonzalez (57), Greg Vaughn (50) and Brady Anderson (50). I feel bad for Griffey because his numbers are truly the most impressive of this era but nobody will ever know it.