Bryce Harper, Mike Trout already in elite company

Bryce Harper, Mike Trout already in elite company

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Bryce Harper

Coming into play on Wednesday, Nationals rookie Bryce Harper boasted an OPS+ (i.e., OPS adjusted to reflect league and home-park conditions) of 141 (meaning his park-adjusted OPS was 41% better than the league average). Also coming into play on Wednesday, Angels sophomore Mike Trout boasted an OPS+ of 148. Both marks constitute excellent production for any player, let alone those who haven't had much exposure to the highest level.

But even that undersells what's going on with Harper and Trout. Harper is 19 years of age and won't turn 20 until the playoffs. Trout, meanwhile, won't turn 21 until August. Even being a major-league regular at all at such young ages is an indicator of future greatness, but thriving? That's rarified air.

How rarified? Let's begin by assuming some decline this season on the behalf (behalves!) of Harper and Trout. Let's set the OPS+ bar at 125 so there's sufficient downward wiggle room. Let's also assume that Harper and Trout each logs a qualifying number of plate appearances (they're on pace to do so). Here, then, is the exhaustive list of qualifiers who achieved an OPS+ of 125 or better at age 20 or younger (from 1901 onward) ...

1Ty Cobb1671907206422125.848
2Mel Ott165192920675179421.084
3Al Kaline16219552068120027.967
4Mickey Mantle16219522062617123.924
5Alex Rodriguez161199620677215361.045
6Ted Williams160193920675185311.045
7Rogers Hornsby1501916205501556.814
8Jimmie Foxx14819282047313113.964
9Frank Robinson14319562066716638.936
10Dick Hoblitzell1431909205921594.782
11Mel Ott13919281950014018.921
12Ken Griffey Jr.13619902066617922.847
13Sherry Magee1341905206691805.774
14Tony Conigliaro13319652058514032.850
15Ty Cobb1321906193941131.749
16Jason Heyward13120102062314418.849
17Vada Pinson12919592070620520.880
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/30/2012.

Survey the list above and you'll see a healthy gathering of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. That's the company that Trout is keeping by producing in the majors when the typical player his age is toiling in, say, the Midwest League. (Side note: Don't even ponder giving up on 22-year-old Jason Heyward yet.)

You'll also observe that two of the above names -- Ty Cobb and Mel Ott -- appear on this list at age 19. And they are Harper's fellow travelers. Once more: Cobb, Ty; Ott, Mel.

Obviously, Harper's and Trout's early bestowals aren't ironclad guarantees of future greatness. But there's undeniably a strong relationship between being a productive regular at age 19 or 20 and going on to a legendary career.

But no pressure, of course.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre

mlb Video

March 26, 2017


Most Popular