Jason Heyward’s slash stats, as of this morning, are .293/.413/.624. That’s a 1.037 OPS. He’s 20 years old. He’s not old enough to drink yet, but he can mash the crap out of the ball.
For your information, only nine players in MLB history have posted an OPS greater than .950 before their age 21 season (since 1901).
1911 Joe Jackson
1929 Jimmie Foxx
1929 Mel Ott
1930 Mel Ott
1930 Hal Trosky
1939 Ted Williams
1940 Ted Williams
1953 Eddie Mathews
1955 Al Kaline
1996 Albert Pujols
And only two did it in their first season: Pujols and Williams. Williams and Pujols both started every day upon their first call-up and both OPS’d above .950.
Even if you lower the standards to first year and under age 21, you have to dip all the way down to 200 plate appearances before you see another player (Willie McCovey, 1959).
I’d say that it’s because Heyward’s on a hot streak, but looking over his game performance, is it? He’s yet to post a multi-homer game; he’s yet to even post a multi-extra base hit game, aside from April 15 when he had two doubles. His BABIP is in line. In fact, the only thing that’s slightly skewed is his K-rate, which should lower as he learns the difference between AAA and majors pitching through the season.
You know, we get all in a huff about prospects, but every once in a while, there’s a really great prospect who’s talked about all the way up and performs to that ability. I don’t know if Heyward is that prospect, but he’s making a good case for himself right now.
We’re still a ways off from the end of the season. That’s a testament to just how great Pujols and Williams were, but maybe we’re in the midst of watching something great.
Since last writing about the possibility of the Marlins breaking the all-time team strikeout record, the Marlins have fallen a little bit in the race. They’re still averaging 8.1 Ks per game, but a new contender has risen. They have 260 strikeouts in 29 games, good for a 8.96 K-rate and that would put them well above the 1,400 mark.
They are the Arizona Diamondbacks. And in their division is Ubaldo Jimenez, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum. Gonna be hard to not get K’d a lot.
I’ll keep you posted.