Monday, January 24, 2011

MLB Trivia: Kid Can Play

In 2010, Starlin Castro had great stats for a 20-year-old: .300 batting average, .347 on-base percentage, and a .408 slugging percentage. In fact, only two 20-year-olds in the past 50 years have matched or beat all of those numbers. Can you name them? (Hint: You don't have to go back 50 years to find these answers. Not even close.) 


Chairman said...

The two obvious recent choices are A-Rod and Junior, who were both drafted #1 out of high school, got to the majors early, killed it pretty early on, and I'm pretty sure that those two qualify. And being an Elvis Andrus owner, I knew that his rate stats weren't quite as good.

Thought about guys like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson, but realized that 50 years ago is now 1960, and those guys came up in the early 50's.

But I figured that surely there were more than just two... but rate numbers look much different when you look at the HOF'ers from years past, and it's just really hard to become an established major leaguer before you're 22. And it's really hard to hit the majors for more than a September callup when you're 20.

I had to check on Robin Yount, since I know that he got to the majors early, but it looks like he didn't really get it going until he turned 24. And I always link Yount and George Brett together, so I checked on him, as well. Alan Trammell made it to the bigs early. Also took a peek at Robbie Alomar, but his numbers weren't quite as good. Another other name that bounced in my head was, oddly enough, Edgar Renteria, since he got to the majors really early, as well. Gary Sheffield was also a young phenom, but he wasn't quite there. I always link Alomar with guys like Craig Biggio and Barry Larkin. But they didn't hig the majors until after they were 20. I started thinking about some of the Reds, and I knew that Johnny Bench was an early phenom, but his numbers weren't there, either. But Johnny Bench led me to Gary Carter, who technically hit did hit .404/.414/.593 in 1974 as a 20-year old during his September call up (though it was for 29 plate appearances). And this reminded me of other Met phenoms, like Darryl Strawberry (was 21 when he first hit the majors), and Gregg Jefferies (who actually hit .321/.364/.596 in 1988 as a 20-year old in 118 plate appearances - fun fact, he actually finished 6th in the ROY race in 1988, despite having few enough AB to qualify for the ROY in 1989, where he fell off of his pace, and finished 3rd).

Greg McConnell said...

Yes, we have a winner! Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. are the two answers. I actually got this info from a recent Jayson Stark column where he lists his All Underrated Team. And if you're looking for players who accomplished this feat more than 50 years ago, the list would also include Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, and Vada Pinson.

Chairman, that was an interesting side note about Gregg Jeffries finishing 6th in the 1988 ROY, and then 3rd in the 1989 ROY. Now I'm kinda curious as to whether anyone else has ever finished in the top 10 for ROY voting twice without winning it.

As for Starlin Castro, I actually had thought he was a bit overrated last year. Maybe not nationally, but by Cubs fans. However, after realizing who he has for company in terms of his stats as a 20-year-old, I'm now looking at Castro in a different light. I still wouldn't put him on pace to be in A-Rod or Junior's elite category, but my expectations for him in 2011 have gone up.