Here at BurningRiverBaseball.com, we have been pretty tough on Jason Giambi all season, mostly for batting under .200 while being unable to play in the field and striking out in more than 25% of his at bats. This is only slightly unfair and with the advent of his 2,000th career hit on Sunday, it is about time to say something nice about the gray haired slugger.
Giambi is currently in his 19th season at the age of 42 and even as the elder statesman of the league, he has been able to add to some of his prodigious power numbers. His eight home runs and 29 RBI have moved him up 40th all time in home runs and 63rd in RBI in Major League history. Every single player ahead of him in home runs is either in the Hall of Fame, played during the unfairly stigmatized "Steroid Era" or is named Dave Kingman. In RBI the same is almost is true with just two more players added to the list in Rusty Staub and Dave Parker. Even his career low .278 OBP hasn't hurt him that much in that category as he maintains a career OBP of .401, good enough for 56th all time.
Speaking of the "Steroid Era," Giambi is one of very few players to actually admit taking the performance enhancing drugs, even if he did so cryptically. Because of this "apology" he has been welcomed back into baseball culture as one of the very few who had been ostracized (Mark McGwire is another, but most, like Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco have been essentially banned from the game). Going entirely in the opposite direction from his contemporaries, Giambi has been an excellent role model for the rest of the team, earning praise from all levels, from the players, to Terry Francona and Mark Shapiro. While it is difficult to actually quantify this type of influence as the players who could have benefited most from his tutelage (like Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds), didn't really improve over past seasons performances, the support he has gotten from everyone has to count for something in the grand scheme of things.
When he finally retires from playing baseball (likely after this season), he should have no problem staying around professional baseball as a hitting coach or minor league manager. Hopefully, he will also be credited for his tremendous playing career when the time comes and be allowed admission into baseball's Hall of Fame, where he belongs as an All-Star, MVP and all around good guy.no comments