Mike Stanton went deep twice yesterday, giving the Marlins rookie 20 homers in 81 games (or exactly half a season) as a major leaguer. He also homered 21 times at Double-A before being called up in June, so Stanton has 41 long balls in 134 total games this season. Not bad for a 20-year-old.
In fact, very few 20-year-olds in baseball history have shown this much pop. Isolated Power is a stat that subtracts batting average from slugging percentage to show someone’s power removed from everything else, and right now Stanton is at .278.
Here are the all-time leaders among 20-year-olds with at least 300 plate appearances:
Mel Ott 1929 .306
Ted Williams 1939 .281
MIKE STANTON 2010 .278
Alex Rodriguez 1996 .273
Bob Horner 1978 .272
Frank Robinson 1956 .267
Tony Conigliaro 1965 .244
Jimmie Foxx 1928 .220
Mickey Mantle 1952 .219
Stanton is hitting just .251 with a .318 on-base percentage and has struck out 100 times in 81 games, so he certainly has some sizable flaws, but that’s one hell of a list to be on after making the jump from Double-A as a 20-year-old rookie.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.