Bryce Harper has recovered from the first extended slump of his career by going 14-for-35 (.400) with five homers in his last nine games, so it seems like a good time to check back in on how he compares to the best 19-year-olds in baseball history.
First up, OPS:
Mel Ott 1928 .921
Tony Conigliaro 1964 .883
Mickey Mantle 1951 .792
Cesar Cedeno 1970 .790
BRYCE HARPER 2012 .783
Freddie Lindstrom 1925 .761
Edgar Renteria 1996 .757
Ty Cobb 1906 .749
Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 .748
Buddy Lewis 1936 .746
You know you’re doing some pretty big things when you’re looking down on Ken Griffey Jr. and Ty Cobb while being one good week from moving past Mickey Mantle.
Harper has scored 79 runs, which is the second-most ever by a 19-year-old behind only Buddy Lewis with 100 in 1936. He also ranks third among all 19-year-olds in homers with 17, extra-base hits with 44, walks with 47, and Isolated Power at .192.
And last but not least: Mel Ott in 1928 is the only 19-year-old in the history of baseball with more plate appearances and a higher OPS than Harper has right now. Toss in his defense and “ferocious baserunning” and Harper is also tied with Ott for the highest Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total ever for a 19-year-old position player at 3.7.
I feel sorry for all the people who decided to immediately hate Bryce Harper forever, because they’re missing one helluva player.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.
Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.
Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”
He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.
If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.
“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”
Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.