3 Dog Makes His Case For Best 22 Year Old Position Season

Willie_davis_medium

Best 19 & 20 Year Old Position Seasons, Adrian Beltre

Best 19 & 20 Year old Pitching Seasons, Fernando Valenzuela

Best 21 Year old Position Season, Adrian Beltre

Best 21 Year old Pitching Season, Fernando Valenzuela

If you have been reading the series, you know that so far Adrian Belte has dominated the early years, but that is about to change.

Willie Davis did not have highest OPS or OPS but he did have the highest rWAR by over 3.7, which is a huge number. Full time players at age 22 were Willie Davis, Steve Sax, Adrian Beltre, Mariano Duncan, Tommie Davis, and Cesar Izturis. Ron Fairly dominated the offensive numbers with an OPS of .956 but he did it in only 301 plate appearances.  Other notables to show up were Blake DeWitt, Bill Buckner, Willie Crawford, Mike Scioscia, Matt Kemp, Roger Cedeno, Steve Garvey, Bobby Valentine, Bill Russell and Wilton Guerrero

                                                                                                 
Player            WAR/pos OPS+  PA Year Age   R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SB CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS     Pos
Willie Davis          6.3  116 666 1962  22 103 18 10 21  85 42 32  7 .285 .334 .453 .787      *8
Ron Fairly            2.6  145 301 1961  22  42 15  2 10  48 48  0  0 .322 .434 .522 .956   938/7
Blake DeWitt        2.3   93 421 2008  22  45 13  2  9  52 45  3  0 .264 .344 .383 .728     *54
Steve Sax             1.8   97 699 1982  22  88 23  7  4  47 49 49 19 .282 .335 .359 .694      *4
Bill Buckner          1.7  117 405 1972  22  47 14  3  5  37 17 10  3 .319 .348 .410 .758    93/7
Willie Crawford      1.7  111 440 1969  22  64 17  5 11  41 49  4  5 .247 .331 .401 .732     798
Mike Scioscia         1.5   98 335 1981  22  27 10  0  2  29 36  0  2 .276 .353 .331 .685      *2
Matt Kemp             1.3  127 311 2007  22  47 12  5 10  42 16 10  5 .342 .373 .521 .894    *9/8
Roger Cedeno          1.3  104 227 1997  22  31 10  2  3  17 25  9  1 .273 .362 .392 .753   *87/9
Steve Garvey          1.3   95 249 1971  22  27 12  1  7  26 21  1  2 .227 .290 .382 .673    *5/6
Adrian Beltre         0.8   91 515 2001  22  59 22  4 13  60 28 13  4 .265 .310 .411 .720    *5/6
Mariano Duncan        0.6   79 620 1985  22  74 24  6  6  39 38 38  8 .244 .293 .340 .633     *64
Bobby Valentine       0.5   88 434 1972  22  42 11  2  3  32 27  5  5 .274 .319 .335 .654 456/879
Tommy Davis           0.5   88 508 1961  22  60 13  2 15  58 32 10  4 .278 .325 .413 .738    5789
Bill Russell          0.1   72 223 1971  22  29  7  4  2  15 11  6  3 .227 .265 .327 .592  498/67
Wilton Guerrero      -0.2   90 380 1997  22  39 10  9  4  32  8  6  5 .291 .305 .403 .709    *4/6
Cesar Izturis        -1.7   51 468 2002  22  43 24  2  1  31 14  7  7 .232 .253 .303 .556   *6/4D

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/14/2011.

 

Twenty Two Year Old Tidbits:

  • According to the metrics and the fans of the game back in 1962 Willie Davis was a very good center-fielder who could catch everything. His 22 year old season would be his second best season ever using rWAR as the measurement. Willie would spring board from this season to hold just about every offensive career number for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Starting with the first year for Dodger Stadium, he was the primary CF in the Ravine from 1962 until 1973, a run we may never see again. In '62 Willie would lead the league in triples and have an excellent SB/CS of 32/7. Maury Wills may have stolen 104 bases but everyone knew Willie Davis was the fastest player on the team. A local legend who attended Roosevelt High School, Willie died in the spring of 2010.
  • Ron Fairly had been bouncing around on the Dodgers since he was 19 but hadn't really done anything with the bat. That all changed in 1961 as he was able to snag 301 plate appearances by playing 1st, RF, CF, and LF. When he did play it was only against right hand pitching, and Ron did some serious work against them putting up a 1.052 OPS.  While Ron would go onto to have a lengthy career he would never come close to matching that season's OPS of .956. The closest he would come was .888, some 15 years later.
  • Some would think Blake DeWitt is high on this list strictly because of his defense. He did have a flukish great year with the glove but his bat had more then its share of good moments. In 2008 the twenty-two year old Dewitt was expected to be playing 3rd base in AA when a spring training game took out both Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche. Next thing you know, DeWitt was our starting 3rd baseman, and for a few months he pulled it off. putting up a .761 OPS in April along with a torrid .896 in May. In May he blasted five home runs. June came, slump came, and Blake found himself back in AAA learning how to be a 2nd baseman. Good thing because Jeff Kent got hurt, so DeWitt was called upon to play 2nd base for the month of September, and all he did in the middle of the pennant race was rake to the tune of a .872 OPS with four more home runs. I mention this because in two months DeWitt hit 9 home runs. He's only hit 12 total in the three seasons since. One other note, DeWitt only had one hit in the 2008 NLCS but what a key hit it was. The Dodgers were down two games to zero against the Phillies but DeWitt's bases loaded first inning triple would propel the Dodgers to their only victory against the Phillies in the 2008 NLCS.
  • Steve Sax is surprisingly low on this list according to rWAR.  He was, after all, a starting second baseman, he won the ROY, he was an all-star, he had 699 plate appearances, scored 88 runs, and he stole 49 bases. His triple stat line was not that offensive at .282 / .335 / .359. For me I would rank him second on this list. Fangraphs has Steve Sax fWAR at twice that of Blake DeWitt. I've put the fWAR numbers below for comparison.
  • Bill Buckner and Willie Crawford put in some good work at age 22 but not as full time players. They were on the good side of the platoon and made the most of it.
  • Matt Kemp showed up for good on June 4th, 2007 and has the second highest OPS+  on this list.  A year before as a 21 year old Kemp hit the Dodgers for the first time. One week into his career he would step to the plate on June 1st and hit three home runs in three games, eventually hitting seven in eleven games. He would slump after that but the die was cast for what was to come. 
  • Steve Garvey got his first taste of major league baseball with 200 plate appearances in 1971, and didn't do much with them. At this point he was a popeye without pop as his scatter arm from 3rd base scared the spectators.
  • I can still remember Mariano Duncan wowing everyone in spring training of 1985 to win the starting SS gig. He literally was the Dee Gordon of his time, a flash of a player both at the plate and in the field. The 1985 team was a great team except for the left side of the infield. The Dodgers gave Duncan 620 plate appearances, he would only top 500 two other times in his twelve year career. The Dodgers love giving lots of plate appearances to speedy but flawed shortstops. Duncan would finish third in the ROY voting, losing out to Vince Coleman.
  • Speaking of flawed but speedy infielder, lets not forget Wilton Guerrero and Cesar Izturis. Guerrero, like Duncan, won the starting second base gig out of spring training in 1997. He would walk EIGHT times in 380 plate appearances. Izturis would walk 14 times in 468 plate appearances. Unlike Wilton, Cesar could not hit his way on base making his twenty two year old season the worst in LA Dodger franchise history. Even his glove could not save him.
  • Mike Scioscia got his first 200 plate appearances in 1981 as he shared catching duties with World Series MVP Steve Yeager. Scioscia showed off the solid on base, minimal power skills that would be his trademarks for his whole career. One note, in the playoffs he hit 4 for 28 which is why Steve Yeager got some at bats in the World Series. Not true, Yeager got all those starts because the Yankees came at us with a plethora of lefties and we ate them up.
  • Tommie Davis was just getting tuned up for his age 23 season.
  • Bobbie Valentine showed some promise but not enough to keep the Dodgers from trading the talented infielder to the Angels in one of the better deals the Dodgers ever made.

Fangraphs WAR:

Willie Davis   5.8

Steve Sax       3.4

Bill Buckner   3.1

Ron Fairly      2. 9

Willie Crawford 2.2

Mike Scioscia 2.1

Steve Garvey 1.9

Matt Kemp     1.8

Blake DeWitt 1.7

Bobby Valentine 1.7

Mariano Duncan 1.3

Adrian Beltre  1.2

Roger Cedeno 1.1

Tommie Davis 1.1

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