Welcome to the MLB Star Power Index -- a weekly undertaking that determines with awful authority which players are dominating the current zeitgeist of the sport, at least according to the narrow perceptions of this miserable scribe. While one's presence on this list is often celebratory in nature, it can also be for purposes of lamentation or ridicule. The players listed are in no particular order, just like the phone book.
Making the majors at the age of 20, which is what the two Gentlemen of Baseball above did, is itself a sign of future greatness. A sign of present greatness is the 40-homer season, which again calls to mind the two Gentlemen of Baseball above (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 40th of the year on Monday; Fernando Tatis Jr. has been on 37 since Sept. 4). Given that Tatis and Guerrero -- scions of sports triumph, both -- are now each just 22 years of age, all of this raises another tantalizing possibility. That possibility is that Messers. Tatis and Guerrero will manage to double their age in home runs this season.
As you probably already guessed this is a fairly rare feat throughout baseball history -- i.e., putting up a home run total that is at least two times the player's age in years for that given season. Indeed, just 26 players have ever done this, starting with Babe Ruth, the seminal high-volume home run hitter, in 1920.
Further observations on this accomplishment issuing forth from this scribe's lofty aerie of wisdom:
- Six players -- Ruth, Ralph Kiner, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez -- pulled it off in not one but two separate seasons.
- Of the 16 players who have done this and have already been eligible for election to the Hall of Fame, 13 have plaques in Cooperstown. Those Hall of Famers include the inner-circle likes of Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Mickey Mantle. The three who aren't Hall of Famers are Barry Bonds, Juan Gonzalez, and Troy Glaus. Bonds, of course, would be a patently obvious first-ballot Hall of Famer absent those PED suspicions.
- Speaking of Bonds, he's the oldest player ever to double his age in homers. He did so in 2001, when he hit a record 73 home runs at age 36.
- Four active players have pulled it off: Aaron Judge (2017), Giancarlo Stanton (2017), Cody Bellinger (2019), and Pete Alonso (2019).
- Mel Ott was the youngest double-your-age player ever. As a 20-year-old in 1929, he hit 42 home runs for the New York Giants.
- The next youngest was a pair of 22-year-olds: DiMaggio in 1937 and Johnny Bench in 1970.
We saved the last bullet (point) in the chamber for Ott, one of those Hall of Famers, because that's where Guerrero and Tatis come into play. If they're able to join the Bombs Double Years Guild, then they'll become second- and third-youngest players (Guerrero is 73 days younger than Tatis) ever to pull it off. Of note is that Bryce Harper, himself a former Young Thunderclap in the Guerrero-Tatis mold, came perilously close to doubling up his age in his age-22 season of 2015, when he won NL MVP laurels. However, he homered only once in his final 12 regular season games and wound up with 42 for the season -- just two shy of what he needed.
The roads ahead for Tatis and Guerrero, you (possibly do not) ask? Per the CBS Sports rest-of-season fantasy projections, Tatis is forecast for six more home runs this season, while Guerrero is in line for seven more. If that comes to pass then Tatis will wind up one shy of Bombs Double Years status with 43 on the season. Regrettable, you'll agree. Consoling us with loving arms, however, is that Guerrero would wind up with 47 homers for 2021, and that would put him in the club by a comfy margin. As such, he would line up behind only Ott as the youngest ever to achieve the thing of which we now speak. You'll recall from above that DiMaggio and Bench both did said deed at age 22, but they at the time they were both a bit older than Tatis and Guerrero are this season.
Before we conclude, let us -- for purposes of magma-hot SEO -- include the name of this Angels miracle-smith:
The two-way star Shohei Ohtani is in his age-26 season (he's 27, but this counts as his age-26 season) and sitting on an MLB-leading 43 Serious Biscuits, which is what we're calling home runs in this paragraph. High-level mathematics will tell you he needs nine more in order to double his seasonal age. Given that his Halos have just 24 games left to play this season, that's going to be difficult. Ohtani, though, can absolutely do it.
From April 24 through May 18, for instance, he piled up nine home runs in a span of 22 games. From June 15 through June 28, he hit nine home runs in a span of 12 games (!). From June 29 through July 25 -- a span that encompasses the All-Star break -- he tallied nine homers in 19 games. Yes, his pace has understandably slackened since then, but Ohtani has proved eminently capable of such a run and done within his very recent history. That he has a shot at joining these ranks while also running a 150 ERA+ and striking out well more than a batter per inning on the mound is quite frankly stupid -- albeit stupid in a good way.