As the legend goes, the griffin was a regal creature of ancient times with the body of a lion and the wings and head of an eagle. Representing courage, intelligence, and leadership the griffin was well regarded as the protector and king of all beasts. While the creature is obviously a device of folklore, it has lived on throughout the centuries in a symbolic form. Today, it can be found in architecture, literature, and in family crests and coat of arms. For the Oakland Athletics, they have a griffin of their own. Starting pitcher A.J. Griffin has emerged from the back pages of the A’s media guide to become a prominent, reliable, starting pitcher in 2012.
Tuesday nights debacle in Detroit notwithstanding, A.J Griffin has been historically excellent this season.
The numbers never lie. Up until his battering at the hands of Miguel Cabrera and company, Griffin has handled his first year in the majors with incredible ease. So much so, that he became just the second pitcher since 1912 to go undefeated through his first eleven starts while posting an ERA under 2.00. If not for Jered Weaver in 2006, he would be the only one. Among the teams he conquered during this sterling start to his career include the Yankees, Giants, and most recently the Angels. Not too shabby.
As anyone who’s watched Griffin pitch extensively dating back to his days starting in the rotation of the University of San Diego Toreros can attest to, he has exceptional command. His ability to pound the zone with quality strikes has effectively carried over as he made the jump from Double-A to the majors this season. In a dozen starts, Griffin has posted a spectacular K:BB ratio of 4.67. To put that into perspective for the statistically challenged, he’s averaging over 4 strikeouts for every walk issued leaving him on par with his minor league average of 4.91. Although Griffin doesn’t qualify due largely in part to missing a month due to injury, his strikeout to walk ratio is so incredible that only Cliff Lee has posted a better mark in the majors this season at 6.57. In fact, Griffin would be leading the American League in the statistical category over his next closest competitor, C.C. Sabathia.
With Brett Anderson succumbing to a season ending oblique pull, the time is now for a member of the A’s rotation to step up. Without Anderson, Bartolo Colon, or Brandon McCarthy there is no veteran to lead the rookie quartet into the postseason. It’s quite simply four men in their first season, and Korean league castaway Travis Blackley attempting to hold the ship together against the leagues best. In a season, where the crazy has already happened in Oakland, the A’s must rely on these young steeds to push them deep into the postseason. Holding true to his namesake, A.J. Griffin must answer the call and continue to take the ball and deliver inspiring performances against top tier teams. He must stand up and stand his ground for a team in desperate need. It is essential that he brings courage, intelligence, and leadership in this role. Of course, this shouldn’t be a problem. After all, he is a griffin and the time is now to become a legend.