How Well Do Phenoms Turn Out?

I’ve heard it said that the best MLB players often make their mark at a very early age, in some cases before they turn 20. I thought I’d test that by looking at how the before-20 statistical leaders did in their careers. Here, via Baseball-reference.com, is a list of the top 10 position players in career games played before turning 20.

1. Phil Cavarretta 277
2. Robin Yount 254
3. Mel Ott 241
4. Ed Kranepool 208
5. Sibby Sisti 186
6. Al Kaline 168
7. Cass Michaels 158
8. Bob Kennedy 157
9. Freddie Lindstrom 156
10. Buddy Lewis 151

And a list of the top 10 for most times on base before turning 20:

1. Phil Cavarretta 360
2. Robin Yount 282
3. Mel Ott 277
4. Buddy Lewis 229
5. Ed Kranepool 218
6. Sibby Sisti 216
7. Bryce Harper 202
8. Bob Kennedy 197
9. George Davis 196
10. Ty Cobb 181

The first list has four Hall of Famers, the second list has three; we do not know what Bryce Harper will do.

As for pitchers, here is the top 10 list for most innings pitched in a career before age 20:

1. Monte Ward 921.0
2. Tommy Bond 849.0
3. Jim Britt 816.7
4. Larry McKeon 802.0
5. Willie McGill 801.3
6. Amos Rusie 773.7
7. Kid Carsey 732.7
8. Nat Hudson 634.3
9. Mike Smith 520.0
10. Bob Feller 488.3

And the same list, for most strikeouts before 20:

1. Bob Feller 466
2. Amos Rusie 450
3. Larry McKeon 425
4. Monte Ward 355
5. Willie McGill 345
6. Dwight Gooden 276
7. Kid Carsey 250
8. Egyptian Healy 245
Nat Hudson 245
10. Adonis Terry 230

Both lists are filled with pitchers from the 1800s whom few have heard of. In those years, it was pretty common for teams to have very young players, and it seems a lot of pitchers before 1900 had at most a few good years before blowing out an arm, switching positions, leaving baseball–or something else happened to make them stop being superb pitchers. I’m pretty sure both lists have three Hall of Famers. Although I don’t recognize all the players on the two batting lists, it’s clear that the batting phenoms have had better careers than the pitching phenoms.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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