Bryce Harper hit one of six home runs for the Nationals last night in an 8-3 victory over the Mariners. In doing so, he joined some impressive company.
Harper is just the 15th player in MLB history to reach 50 career home runs before their age-22 season. It took him 331 games to get there.
Via Baseball Reference, he’s the full list, which includes two other active players:
Mel Ott – 86
Tony Conigliaro – 84
Eddie Matthews – 72
Frank Robinson – 67
Alex Rodriguez – 64
Mike Trout – 62
Ken Griffey, Jr. – 60
Al Kaline – 59
Mickey Mantle – 57
Giancarlo Stanton – 56
Bob Horner – 56
Andruw Jones – 54
Ted Williams – 54
Orlando Cepeda – 52
Bryce Harper – 50
Such a disappointment, that Harper. In all seriousness, imagine how high he’d be on that list if it wasn’t for the injuries over the past two seasons. He’d be near the top, most likely, if not the highest. Still, he’s off to a pretty good start and has plenty of time to meet those lofty expectations.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.