Monday, August 10, 2015


Yes, that's the question...we can play this game every so often, if only because we just want to see what the results look like.

We are looking for best duo-trio-quartet-etc. of "young hitters" (age 23 and younger) in any given season. The OPS+ boundary line is 150.

Naturally, we are prompted by the fact that, so far, this year (2015) two stellar campaigns are being turned in by Bryce Harper (age 22, 204 OPS+) and Mike Trout (age 23, 181 OPS+).

Of course, they might not hold this performance level over the whole year, but right now they look formidable (individually, of course, and--more importantly for our purposes here--collectively).

Will we find a better duo-trio-etc. in years past? Let's move backward in time and find out.

Our next duo occurs in 1993: Ken Griffey Jr. (age 23, 171 OPS+) and Juan Gonzalez (age 23, 169 OPS+). Hard to remember that Juan Gone had seasons like that, nicht war?

Then, to 1991: Griffey again (age 21, 155 OPS+) and Frank Thomas (age 23, 180 OPS+).

From there, it's back all the way to 1972, where we pick up two players who failed to hold their high-flying youthful performance levels: John Mayberry (age 23, 168 OPS+) and Cesar Cedeno (age 21, 162 OPS+).

Next: 1964, with Boog Powell (age 22, 176 OPS+) and Dick Allen (age 22, 162 OPS+).

Our first trio occurs in 1955, with Mickey Mantle (age 23, 180 OPS+), Eddie Mathews (age 23, 170 OPS+) and Al Kaline (age 20, 162 OPS+). These guys turned out pretty well, though Mathews and Kaline didn't match these early numbers going forward.

The previous year (1954) Mantle and Mathews became the only repeating pair (at least thus far) with age 22 seasons with OPS+ values of 158 and 172 respectively. They are joined by Willie Mays (age 23, 175 OPS+).

From there, we slip backwards to 1942: Ted Williams (age 23, 216 OPS+) and Stan Musial (age 22, 151 OPS+)

The previous year (1941) it's Williams (age 22, 235 OPS+) and Pete Reiser (age 22, 164 OPS+).

We go next to 1937: Joe DiMaggio (age 23, 166 OPS+) and Rudy York (age 23, 151 OPS+).

Next: 1935, with Arky Vaughan (age 23, 190 OPS+) and Joe Medwick (age 23, 151 OPS+).

The year previous (1934) features Hank Greenberg (age 23, 156 OPS+) and Hal Trosky (age 21, 150 OPS+).

In 1929 and 1930, we have another repeater duo in Jimmie Foxx (ages 21 & 22, 173 and 161 OPS+) and Mel Ott (ages 20 & 21, 165 and 150 OPS+).

Before that, we travel back all the way to 1911, for Joe Jackson (age 23, 191 OPS+) and Tris Speaker (age 23, 157 OPS+).

In 1910, we have a quartet (let's not press our luck by asking them to sing, however). They are: Ty Cobb (age 23, 206 OPS+), Speaker again (age 22, 170 OPS+), Fred Snodgrass (age 22, 154 OPS+) and Eddie Collins (age 23, 152 OPS+). That's three Hall of Famers and a lawn problem.

Cobb,  Collins and Speaker were a trio in 1909, when they were all a year younger.

In 1907, Cobb (age 20, 167 OPS+) pairs up with Sherry Magee (age 22, 169 OPS+).

Further back--1901--we have: Jimmy Sheckard (age 22, 169 OPS+) and Sam Crawford (age 21, 167 OPS+).

Now, into the nineteenth century: in 1890, we have the only instance of a trio who represent three major leagues in the same year: Cupid Childs (American Association, age 22, 180 OPS+); Mike Tiernan (National League, age 23, 160 OPS+); Jake Beckley (Players League, age 22, 152 OPS+).

Into the 1880s:

--1889: Denny Lyons (AA, age 23, 159 OPS+), Mike Tiernan (NL, age 22, 159 OPS+)

--1888: Oyster Burns (AA, age 23, 153 OPS+), Mike Tiernan (NL, age 21, 152 OPS+)

--1887: a quartet, three in the AA: Bob Caruthers (age 23, 169 OPS+), Oyster Burns (age 22, 164 OPS+), Denny Lyons (age 21, 162 OPS), with Fred Carroll (age 22, 150 OPS+) joining them from the NL.

--1886: Bob Caruthers (AA, age 22, 201 OPS+...why isn't he in the HoF??), Fred Carroll (NL, age 21, 150 OPS+)

--1884: a quartet: Buster Hoover (UA/AA, age 21, 188 OPS+), Pete Browning (AA, age 23, 174 OPS+), Fred Carroll (AA, age 19, 156 OPS+), Ed Crane (UA, age 22, 152 OPS+). Crane converted to a pitcher when he moved to the NL after the Union Association folded...

--1882: Pete Browing (AA, age 21, 223 OPS+), Ed Swartwood (AA, age 23, 188 OPS+).

--1881: Fred Dunlap (NL, age 22, 156 OPS+), Dan Brouthers (NL, age 23, 181 OPS+).

--1880: Roger Connor (NL, age 22, 169 OPS+), Abner Dalyrmple (NL, age 22, 160 OPS+).

Into the 1870s, the first decade of pro ball:

--1878: Paul Hines (age 23, 177 OPS+), Lew Brown (age 20, 153 OPS+), Abner Dalrymple (age 20, 151 OPS+).

In the National Association now...

--1873: Ross Barnes (age 23, 207 OPS+), Cal McVey (age 23, 157 OPS+).

--1872: Ross Barnes (age 22, 211 OPS+), Cap Anson (age 20, 200 OPS+), Davy Force (age 22, 179 OPS+). Who has ever thought of "Pop" Anson as a young man? It seems to cut against reality...

--1871 (aka The Dawn of Time): Levi Meyerle (age 21, 237 OPS+), Ross Barnes (age 21, 185 OPS+), Cal McVey (age 21, 175 OPS+), Ezra Sutton (age 21, 159 OPS+).

Barnes and McVey are the only teammates age 23 or younger to exceed 150 OPS+ together in the same year. It happened in the first year of pro ball--and it hasn't happened since...