Joey Votto and Ryan Braun were born two months apart and both started their careers in 2007. Since then they’ve been nothing short of spectacular, so much so that both are now in the top 30 since 1901 in career efficiency (min. 3000 PA) producing WAR batting runs.

Thought they were good, but maybe not that good? You’re probably not alone. After the jump, I’ll look at bit closer at this pair and their lock-step career journeys.

For starters, here are their careers in a box. First, Votto.

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ WAR oWAR Awards
2007 23 CIN 24 89 84 11 27 7 0 4 17 5 15 .321 .360 .548 .907 127 0.0 0.3
2008 24 CIN 151 589 526 69 156 32 3 24 84 59 102 .297 .368 .506 .874 125 3.1 2.5 RoY-2
2009 25 CIN 131 544 469 82 151 38 1 25 84 70 106 .322 .414 .567 .981 156 4.6 4.8 MVP-22
2010 26 CIN 150 648 547 106 177 36 2 37 113 91 125 .324 .424 .600 1.024 171 6.7 6.4 AS,MVP-1
2011 27 CIN 161 719 599 101 185 40 3 29 103 110 129 .309 .416 .531 .947 155 6.2 5.7 AS,MVP-6,GG
2012 28 CIN 111 475 374 59 126 44 0 14 56 94 85 .337 .474 .567 1.041 174 5.6 4.5 AS,MVP-14
6 Yrs 728 3064 2599 428 822 197 9 133 457 429 562 .316 .415 .553 .968 155 26.2 24.2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2013. 

Now, Braun.

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ WAR oWAR Awards
2007 23 MIL 113 492 451 91 146 26 6 34 97 29 112 .324 .370 .634 1.004 154 1.8 5.0 MVP-24,RoY-1
2008 24 MIL 151 663 611 92 174 39 7 37 106 42 129 .285 .335 .553 .888 130 4.3 3.7 AS,MVP-3,SS
2009 25 MIL 158 708 635 113 203 39 6 32 114 57 121 .320 .386 .551 .937 146 5.9 6.3 AS,MVP-11,SS
2010 26 MIL 157 685 619 101 188 45 1 25 103 56 105 .304 .365 .501 .866 131 5.5 4.5 AS,MVP-15,SS
2011 27 MIL 150 629 563 109 187 38 6 33 111 58 93 .332 .397 .597 .994 166 7.7 7.3 AS,MVP-1,SS
2012 28 MIL 154 677 598 108 191 36 3 41 112 63 128 .319 .391 .595 .987 159 6.8 6.0 AS,MVP-2,SS
6 Yrs 883 3854 3477 614 1089 223 29 202 643 305 688 .313 .374 .568 .943 147 32.0 32.8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2013.

Pretty dazzling stuff. Votto has four of his first 6 seasons with 30 doubles and an OPS+ of 150 or better, only the 7th player since 1901 to do so.

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Albert Pujols 6 2001 2006 21-26 Ind. Seasons
2 Ted Williams 6 1939 1947 20-28 Ind. Seasons
3 Johnny Mize 6 1936 1941 23-28 Ind. Seasons
4 Chuck Klein 5 1929 1933 24-28 Ind. Seasons
5 Joey Votto 4 2009 2012 25-28 Ind. Seasons
6 Frank Thomas 4 1991 1994 23-26 Ind. Seasons
7 Stan Musial 4 1942 1946 21-25 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/24/2013.

For Braun, it’s 5 out of 6 seasons with 30+ homers and 95+ RBI, only the 6th player ever to do that.

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Albert Pujols 6 2001 2006 21-26 Ind. Seasons
2 Ryan Braun 5 2007 2012 23-28 Ind. Seasons
3 Mark Teixeira 5 2004 2008 24-28 Ind. Seasons
4 Ralph Kiner 5 1947 1951 24-28 Ind. Seasons
5 Ted Williams 5 1939 1947 20-28 Ind. Seasons
6 Joe DiMaggio 5 1937 1941 22-26 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/24/2013.

Votto’s 197 doubles are tied for second most in the first 6 years of a career (max. 3200 PAs). Braun’s 223 doubles are tied for 10th (max. 4000 PAs). Braun’s 202 HR are tied for 6th most in the first 6 seasons, and his RBI are 14th.

As I said off the top, both are now in the top 30 since 1901 in WAR batting runs per PA efficiency for a career (min. 3000 PA). Here are those players.

Rk Player Rbat PA per Rbat OPS+ PA From To Age G R H 2B HR RBI BB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Babe Ruth 1338 7.9 206 10620 1914 1935 19-40 2503 2174 2873 506 714 2213 2062 .342 .474 .690 1.164
2 Barry Bonds 1128 11.2 182 12606 1986 2007 21-42 2986 2227 2935 601 762 1996 2558 .298 .444 .607 1.051
3 Ted Williams 1070 9.1 190 9788 1939 1960 20-41 2292 1798 2654 525 521 1839 2021 .344 .482 .634 1.116
4 Ty Cobb 994  13.2 168 13078 1905 1928 18-41 3034 2246 4189 724 117 1938 1249 .366 .433 .512 .945
5 Lou Gehrig 969  10.0 179 9663 1923 1939 20-36 2164 1888 2721 534 493 1995 1508 .340 .447 .632 1.080
6 Stan Musial 885 14.4 159 12717 1941 1963 20-42 3026 1949 3630 725 475 1951 1599 .331 .417 .559 .976
7 Hank Aaron 876 15.9 155 13941 1954 1976 20-42 3298 2174 3771 624 755 2297 1402 .305 .374 .555 .928
8 Rogers Hornsby 859 11.0 175 9481 1915 1937 19-41 2259 1579 2930 541 301 1584 1038 .358 .434 .577 1.010
9 Tris Speaker 819  14.6 157 11991 1907 1928 19-40 2790 1882 3514 792 117 1529 1381 .345 .428 .500 .928
10 Willie Mays 808 15.5 156 12496 1951 1973 20-42 2992 2062 3283 523 660 1903 1464 .302 .384 .557 .941
11 Mickey Mantle 800 12.4 172 9907 1951 1968 19-36 2401 1676 2415 344 536 1509 1733 .298 .421 .557 .977
12 Mel Ott 776  14.6 155 11348 1926 1947 17-38 2730 1859 2876 488 511 1860 1708 .304 .414 .533 .947
13 Jimmie Foxx 760  12.7 163 9676 1925 1945 17-37 2317 1751 2646 458 534 1922 1452 .325 .428 .609 1.038
14 Frank Robinson 727 16.2 154 11742 1956 1976 20-40 2808 1829 2943 528 586 1812 1420 .294 .389 .537 .926
15 Frank Thomas 692 14.6 156 10075 1990 2008 22-40 2322 1494 2468 495 521 1704 1667 .301 .419 .555 .974
16 Manny Ramirez 653 15.0 154 9774 1993 2011 21-39 2302 1544 2574 547 555 1831 1329 .312 .411 .585 .996
17 Albert Pujols 652 12.4 168 8103 2001 2012 21-32 1859 1376 2246 505 475 1434 1027 .325 .414 .608 1.022
18 Jeff Bagwell 590 16.0 149 9431 1991 2005 23-37 2150 1517 2314 488 449 1529 1401 .297 .408 .540 .948
19 Harry Heilmann 548  16.4 148 8960 1914 1932 19-37 2147 1291 2660 542 183 1539 856 .342 .410 .520 .930
20 Mark McGwire 547 14.0 163 7660 1986 2001 22-37 1874 1167 1626 252 583 1414 1317 .263 .394 .588 .982
21 Edgar Martinez 532 16.3 147 8674 1987 2004 24-41 2055 1219 2247 514 309 1261 1283 .312 .418 .515 .933
22 Joe DiMaggio 530  14.5 155 7673 1936 1951 21-36 1736 1390 2214 389 361 1537 790 .325 .398 .579 .977
23 Johnny Mize 505  14.6 158 7370 1936 1953 23-40 1883 1118 2011 367 359 1337 856 .312 .397 .562 .959
24 Shoeless Joe Jackson 437  13.0 169 5692 1908 1920 20-32 1332 873 1772 307 54 785 519 .356 .423 .517 .940
25 Hank Greenberg 434  14.0 158 6097 1930 1947 19-36 1394 1051 1628 379 331 1276 852 .313 .412 .605 1.017
26 Miguel Cabrera 396 16.3 151 6474 2003 2012 20-29 1512 961 1802 386 321 1123 709 .318 .395 .561 .956
27 Charlie Keller 287  16.0 152 4604 1939 1952 22-35 1170 725 1085 166 189 760 784 .286 .410 .518 .928
28 Ryan Braun 234 16.5 147 3854 2007 2012 23-28 883 614 1089 223 202 643 305 .313 .374 .568 .943
29 Lefty O’Doul 220 16.6 143 3658 1919 1934 22-37 970 624 1140 175 113 542 333 .349 .413 .532 .945
30 Joey Votto 207 14.8 155 3064 2007 2012 23-28 728 428 822 197 133 457 429 .316 .415 .553 .968
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/27/2013.

The above list is sorted by Rbat. The PA per Rbat had to be manually calculated after running the P-I query so the query result could not be sorted on this field. This list was generated by selecting players with an Rbat score exceeding 6% of their PAs.

Braun and Votto still have a long way to go in their careers (incl. their decline phase) so they may not be on this list when they’re done. But, FWIW, Votto’s PA per Rbat currently ranks 19th and Braun is 29th. Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, the only other active players on the list, stand 7th and 27th, respectively. Manny is 20th. Ruth, Williams and Gehrig are 1, 2 and 3, the only players producing a WAR batting run or more for every 10 PAs

If you’re wondering if two players have started their careers in such similar fashion at exactly the same time, the answer is yes. But, it’s been a while. Here are players since 1901 with 200 or more Rbat and an OPS+ from 145 to 160, during the first 6 seasons of their careers.

Rk Player Year Rbat OPS+ PA From To Age G R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Ryan Braun 2012 234 147 3854 2007 2012 23-28 883 614 1089 223 29 202 643 305 .313 .374 .568 .943
2 Joey Votto 2012 207 155 3064 2007 2012 23-28 728 428 822 197 9 133 457 429 .316 .415 .553 .968
3 Jeff Bagwell 1996 251 158 3693 1991 1996 23-28 846 545 950 206 18 144 589 500 .307 .406 .525 .931
4 Wade Boggs 1987 247 149 3910 1982 1987 24-29 872 582 1178 218 23 56 411 522 .354 .439 .484 .923
5 Frank Robinson 1961 220 146 3790 1956 1961 20-25 888 618 994 177 34 202 573 392 .302 .384 .561 .946
6 Hank Aaron 1959 243 151 3866 1954 1959 20-25 886 612 1137 205 46 179 617 281 .323 .372 .559 .931
7 Eddie Mathews 1957 239 154 3807 1952 1957 20-25 880 606 902 147 33 222 586 561 .281 .388 .556 .943
8 Willie Mays 1957 220 157 3298 1951 1957 20-26 762 531 903 128 63 187 509 362 .311 .387 .593 .980
9 Charlie Keller 1945 217 157 3184 1939 1945 22-28 726 520 774 109 55 132 526 540 .295 .416 .529 .945
10 Joe DiMaggio 1941 297 160 3739 1936 1941 21-26 825 735 1163 214 69 198 816 336 .345 .408 .626 1.034
11 Arky Vaughan 1937 229 147 3712 1932 1937 20-25 849 572 1057 166 78 58 501 466 .334 .424 .491 .915
12 Chuck Klein 1933 289 160 3710 1928 1933 23-28 823 699 1209 246 50 191 727 297 .359 .412 .632 1.044
13 Babe Herman 1931 209 145 3559 1926 1931 23-28 851 534 1084 231 66 111 585 292 .340 .397 .559 .955
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/27/2013.

So, Mathews and Mays in 1957 is the only other time. What’s the biggest difference between them and Votto and Braun? It’s that column called Age. Those two extra years over Mays (and 3 over Mathews) are huge and almost certainly will limit the career counting numbers of Votto and Braun. Indeed, as both will turn 30 this year, they may well be at their peaks right now.

On the other hand, there are Bagwell and Boggs on this list, recent players who were as old or older and who still managed to compile two pretty stellar careers. So, we’ll just to have to enjoy watching to see how it turns out.

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