Not to be out-done by Mike Stanton, fellow 20-year-old Jason Heyward is showing historic on-base skills

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I wrote earlier today about how historic Mike Stanton’s power is for a 20-year-old, but as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out it’s only fair to take a similar look at fellow 20-year-old Jason Heyward’s historic on-base skills.
Heyward went 1-for-4 with a homer and two walks yesterday, giving him a .398 on-base percentage in 124 games. Here’s a list of the top 10 on-base percentages in baseball history by a 20-year-old:

                    YEAR      OBP
Met Ott             1929     .449
Ted Williams        1939     .436
Al Kaline           1955     .421
Jimmie Foxx         1928     .416
Alex Rodriguez      1996     .414
JASON HEYWARD       2010     .398
Mickey Mantle       1952     .394
Ty Cobb             1907     .380
Frank Robinson      1956     .379
Arky Vaughan        1932     .375

That’s nine Hall of Famers and Heyward. Oh, and he’s also hitting .289 with 17 homers, 29 doubles, a .481 slugging percentage, and an .879 OPS that would be the eighth-highest ever for a 20-year-old.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.