Quiz – Heady Company (solved)

Two rookie phenoms in 2012 had seasons for the ages, joining the very select group of players below.

Since 1901, what single season statistical feat has been accomplished only by these players?

Hint: several players on the list did this more than once.

Congratulations to Josh! He correctly identified these players as the record holders for seasonal WAR at each age, with a minimum of 2 WAR. That minimum covers the ages 19 through 42. The record seasons are after the jump, as well the best WAR seasons outside of this age range.

Rk Player WAR/pos OPS+ Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Robin Yount 1.3 79 1974 18 MIL 107 364 344 48 86 14 5 3 26 12 46 .250 .276 .346 .622 *6
1 Bryce Harper 5.0 119 2012 19 WSN 139 597 533 98 144 26 9 22 59 56 120 .270 .340 .477 .817 *89/7
1 Mike Trout 10.7 171 2012 20 LAA 139 639 559 129 182 27 8 30 83 67 139 .326 .399 .564 .963 *87/9
1 Rogers Hornsby 9.7 169 1917 21 STL 145 589 523 86 171 24 17 8 66 45 34 .327 .385 .484 .868 *6
1 Ted Williams 10.1 235 1941 22 BOS 143 606 456 135 185 33 3 37 120 147 27 .406 .553 .735 1.287 *7/9
1 Willie Mays 10.3 175 1954 23 NYG 151 641 565 119 195 33 13 41 110 66 57 .345 .411 .667 1.078 *8
1 Lou Gehrig 11.5 220 1927 24 NYY 155 717 584 149 218 52 18 47 175 109 84 .373 .474 .765 1.240 *3
1 Babe Ruth 11.6 255 1920 25 NYY 142 616 458 158 172 36 9 54 137 150 80 .376 .532 .847 1.379 *978/31
1 Babe Ruth 12.6 238 1921 26 NYY 152 693 540 177 204 44 16 59 171 145 81 .378 .512 .846 1.359 *78/13
1 Carl Yastrzemski 12.0 193 1967 27 BOS 161 680 579 112 189 31 4 44 121 91 69 .326 .418 .622 1.040 *7/8
1 Babe Ruth 13.7 239 1923 28 NYY 152 697 522 151 205 45 13 41 131 170 93 .393 .545 .764 1.309 97/83
1 Babe Ruth 11.4 220 1924 29 NYY 153 681 529 143 200 39 7 46 121 142 81 .378 .513 .739 1.252 *97/8
1 Cal Ripken 11.3 162 1991 30 BAL 162 717 650 99 210 46 5 34 114 53 46 .323 .374 .566 .940 *6
1 Babe Ruth 11.1 225 1926 31 NYY 152 652 495 139 184 30 5 47 146 144 76 .372 .516 .737 1.253 *79/3
1 Babe Ruth 12.1 225 1927 32 NYY 151 691 540 158 192 29 8 60 164 137 89 .356 .486 .772 1.258 *97
1 Willie Mays 10.7 172 1964 33 SFG 157 665 578 121 171 21 9 47 111 82 72 .296 .383 .607 .990 *8/635
1 Honus Wagner 11.3 205 1908 34 PIT 151 641 568 100 201 39 19 10 109 54 22 .354 .415 .542 .957 *6
1 Babe Ruth 10.0 211 1930 35 NYY 145 676 518 150 186 28 9 49 153 136 61 .359 .493 .732 1.225 *97/1
1 Barry Bonds 11.6 259 2001 36 SFG 153 664 476 129 156 32 2 73 137 177 93 .328 .515 .863 1.379 *7/D
1 Barry Bonds 11.6 268 2002 37 SFG 143 612 403 117 149 31 2 46 110 198 47 .370 .582 .799 1.381 *7/D
1 Ted Williams 9.5 233 1957 38 BOS 132 547 420 96 163 28 1 38 87 119 43 .388 .526 .731 1.257 *7
1 Barry Bonds 10.4 263 2004 39 SFG 147 617 373 129 135 27 3 45 101 232 41 .362 .609 .812 1.422 *7/D
1 Willie Mays 6.0 158 1971 40 SFG 136 537 417 82 113 24 5 18 61 112 123 .271 .425 .482 .907 *83
1 Honus Wagner 5.2 126 1915 41 PIT 156 625 566 68 155 32 17 6 78 39 64 .274 .325 .422 .747 *643
1 Luke Appling 4.9 125 1949 42 CHW 142 619 492 82 148 21 5 5 58 121 24 .301 .439 .394 .833 *6
1 Carlton Fisk 1.7 97 1991 43 CHW 134 501 460 42 111 25 0 18 74 32 86 .241 .299 .413 .712 *2D3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/19/2013.

 

24 thoughts on “Quiz – Heady Company (solved)

  1. 1
    Dr. Doom says:

    The idea that one of baseball’s “great-old-but-not-young” players in Appling and Bryce Harper share something in common is kind of awesome…

    • 2
      Doug says:

      That comment is actually kind of a hint for the quiz.

      • 3
        John Autin says:

        Kind of a puzzling hint, since I disagree with Doom’s assessment of Appling. His first outstanding year was age 26, three more from 28-30. The fact that he also had many good years from his mid-30s into his 40s shouldn’t take away from his earlier years.

        • 4
          Mike L says:

          I’m not sure he means it that way, Appling is probably the key. He’s the only player on the list with no power.

          • 14
            AlbaNate says:

            No power? You must have missed that home run he hit at RFK Stadium in ’82 when he was 75. 🙂

        • 18
          Dr. Doom says:

          JA, I would argue that 26 is not “young” in baseball terms. No 26-year-old “prospect” would be deemed “young.” That’s really reserved for the 23-at-oldest-and-younger crowd. At least that’s how I see it. A great season at 26 is not surprising – after all, that’s right near the “prime age” of 27. A great season at 22 or 20 is MUCH more unexpected. That’s just what I meant. He was great during his prime, and continued to be so later in his career. But he wasn’t a great “young” player.

          • 23
            John Autin says:

            Doom, I see your point about Appling. And you’re right … [sigh] … 26 is not “young” for a MLB player.

  2. 5
    John Autin says:

    Thinking out loud … If the theme is age and youth, then how exactly does Gehrig fit? His first and last years as a regular were ages 22 and 35, which is far from unusual.

    Appling was good at 40+.
    Hornsby was good at 20.
    Bonds was good at 21, and at 40+.
    Wagner was good at 40+.
    Harper was good at 19.
    Williams was good at 20 and at 40+.
    Ruth was a good pitcher at 20.
    Yaz was decent at 21 and at 40+.
    Ripken was good at 21 and … well, he played at 40.
    Trout was good at 20.
    Mays was good at 20 and at 40+.

    But Gehrig … He only played 23 games before age 22, and 8 after age 35.

  3. 7
    Josh says:

    Do each player hold the record for most WAR at each particular age?

  4. 9
    RJ says:

    If I may ask, whose records did Harper and Trout beat?

    • 10
      Doug says:

      Harper beat Mel Ott (3.7 in 1928).

      Trout beat A-Rod (9.2 in 1996).

      • 12
        RJ says:

        Cheers Doug. So looking at your table, before Trout’s blockbuster season the record WAR at each age increased year-on-year from 18 to 26. Now Trout owns the highest WAR for any age up to 23. Wow.

    • 11
      GrandyMan says:

      Also in 2012, Manny Machado had the 9th best season for a 19-year old at 1.5 WAR. Trout himself is one of only 27 players to have a WAR of at least 0.5 at age 19 (he had 0.6 last year).

  5. 13
    BryanM says:

    great quiz, doug! I scratched my head for a long time over it and didn’t come close, Even put my St Louis Cardinal’s cap on to help thinking — didn’t work, but I learned of Musial’s death while wearing it, which put a sweet edge on the nostalgia. Carleton Fisk at 33 – nice to see and old catcher on the list.

  6. 15
    DaveKingman says:

    So this Ruth guy was pretty good, I take it?

  7. 16
    Hartvig says:

    In retrospect it’s something that I feel like I SHOULD have spotted- you’ve got guys well known for being great “old” players like Old Aches & Pains & Pudge & Honus & of course Barry’s second half of his career “surge” as well as two current youngsters- but I have got to admit that I stared at that list for 10 minutes without coming anywhere close.

    In retrospect I think it was Yount that threw me.

    Well done Josh & Doug

  8. 17
    Doug says:

    In the category of `what have you done for me lately`, take a look at that 6 WAR season by Willie Mays in 1971 at age 40. And then, being dealt by the Giants just a few weeks into the next season. Sure, he was off to a bad start. But, even though events proved the Giants right in their judgment, franchise legends deserve better, do they not?

    • 19
      Dr. Doom says:

      I always thought it poetic and just that Mays and Aaron were the key players on franchises that moved during their tenure, then returned to finish their careers where they started. It creates a nice symmetry.

    • 20
      Hartvig says:

      Actually, IF my memory of events is correct Willie didn’t seem to be all that bothered by it at the time. After all, he was sort of going home to New York plus the Mets had just won the World Series. And again, IF my memory is correct I think he came out of the deal OK financially as well. I know there was a bit of outrage in the media at the time but like I said, I don’t remember Mays seeming to be too bothered.

    • 21
      John Autin says:

      Doug, maybe the SFG management recognized Willie’s ’71 massive surge in both walks and strikeouts as compensation for a loss of bat speed. His power had vanished in the 2nd half of ’71, 4 HRs in the last 3 months.

      And the ’72 Giants got off to a bad start — they were 8-16 when Willie was dealt, and would never get back in the race. Willie was 9 for 49 without a HR. I think it was considered a courtesy move, giving Willie the chance for a “farewell tour” in the city where he became a star. No one expected his resurgence the rest of ’72 (145 OPS+ in 69 games).

      • 22
        Doug says:

        Could be, John. ’71 really was the last-chance season for the Giants with Mays at 40, McCovey at 33 starting to wear down and missing a third of the season, and Marichal starting to look mortal after finishing a decade where he averaged 280 IP. The Giants won the NL West, but couldn’t make it past the Pirates. With a bad start in ’72, time to rebuild and no time for sentimentality.

        With McCovey a few years later, the hard-nosed Giant management did much the same as with Mays. Stretch was injured again in ’72, missing half the year, but then played close to a full season (130 games) in ’73 with a nice OPS+ (162), but declining power and production. At age 35, that was enough for the Giants, and off McCovey went to San Diego. San Francisco would bring McCovey back at age 39, but to fill a different role. Only to have Willie surprise with a last hurrah season, his best since leaving the Giants the first time.

  9. 24
    mosc says:

    I think there’s a decent chance the list might add another name with 43 year old Rivera in 2013 giving it another go. Would be fitting to get at least one pitcher on the list wouldn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *