Best 19 and 20 Year Old Offensive Seasons Ever by a Los Angeles Dodger

(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)


I'm starting a series looking for the best season by age for our Los Angeles Dodgers.  Rules are simple for offensive players the player must have garnered at least 200 plate appearances.  The pitcher must have made 10 starts or 30 relief appearances. Using BRef as the focal point for this search because of the ability to do searches and post the data I've found.

                                                                                                                               
Rk          Player WAR/pos  PA Year Age  Tm Lg  G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  Pos
                                                                                                                               
1    Adrian Beltre     0.1 214 1998  19 LAD NL 77 195 18 42  9  0  7  22 14   0 37   3  2  0   4  3  1 .215 .278 .369 .648 *5/6

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/5/2011.

                                                                                                
Player             WAR/pos  PA Year Age  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS   Pos
Adrian Beltre          3.7 614 1999  20 538 84 148 27  5 15  67 61 105 .275 .352 .428 .780    *5
Bill Russell           1.6 238 1969  20 212 35  48  6  2  5  15 22  45 .226 .301 .344 .645 *98/7
Derrell Griffith       0.3 254 1964  20 238 27  69 16  2  4  23  5  21 .290 .307 .424 .732  59/7
Ron Fairly            -1.1 284 1959  20 244 27  58 12  1  4  23 31  29 .238 .324 .344 .668 *98/7

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/5/2011.

Not surprisingly the list is small and is led by Adrian Beltre for both 19 and 20 year old seasons.

Tidbits:

Adrian Beltre - When you look at the current franchise you wouldn't think the Dodgers have a storied history of great young Dominican ballplayers but we do. From the pitching side, Martinez brothers (Ramon and Pedro), Pedro Astacio, and Alejandro Pena. From the offensive side Raul Mondesi, and Adrian Beltre. No one came faster then Adrian Beltre who was in the major leagues by age 19.  Beltre's age 20 season was the greatest ever in the National League for a Dominican.

                                                                                                                                  
Rk           Player WAR/pos Year Age  Tm Lg  PA  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB  SO SB   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS                              Pos
1     Adrian Beltre     3.7 1999  20 LAD NL 614 84 148 27  5 15  67 61 105 18 .275 .352 .428 .780     *5        Santo Domingo D.R.
2        Jose Reyes     1.8 2003  20 NYM NL 292 47  84 12  4  5  32 13  36 13 .307 .334 .434 .769     *6       Villa Gonzalez D.R.
3      Cesar Cedeno     1.7 1971  20 HOU NL 649 85 161 40  6 10  81 25 102 20 .264 .293 .398 .690 *897/3        Santo Domingo D.R.
4     Luis Castillo     1.0 1996  20 FLA NL 180 26  43  2  1  1   8 14  46 17 .262 .320 .305 .625     *4 San Pedro de Macoris D.R.
5    Starlin Castro     0.4 2010  20 CHC NL 506 53 139 31  5  3  41 29  71 10 .300 .347 .408 .755     *6         Monte Cristi D.R.
6     Jose Gonzalez     0.2 1985  20 LAD NL  12  6   3  2  0  0   0  1   3  1 .273 .333 .455 .788   /987         Puerto Plata D.R.

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/5/2011.

Based on his age 20 season you'd have expected Beltre to have the career he had, you just would not have expected for him to take so long to get it going. He was doing it all at age 20, power, average, plate discipline, and of course the spectacular defense at the hot corner. Easily the greatest age 20 season any offensive Dodgers has had, but it will pale compared to the best 20-year old season any Los Angeles Dodger has ever had. Beltre's 20 year old season ranks as the 7th best in the majors since the Los Angeles Dodgers came into existence.

Editors Note: Adrian was considered to be 20 when he first joined the Dodgers not 19. Age gate would end up knocking a year off his age while putting the Dodgers in front of the commissioner for signing someone before they were 16.

                                                                                                        
Rk                Player WAR/pos Year Age  Tm Lg  PA   R   H 2B HR RBI BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS   Pos
1         Alex Rodriguez     9.4 1996  20 SEA AL 677 141 215 54 36 123 59 104 .358 .414 .631 1.045    *6
2            Vada Pinson     6.3 1959  20 CIN NL 706 131 205 47 20  84 55  98 .316 .371 .509  .880    *8
3           Johnny Bench     4.7 1968  20 CIN NL 607  67 155 40 15  82 31  96 .275 .311 .433  .743    *2
4            Ken Griffey     4.6 1990  20 SEA AL 666  91 179 28 22  80 63  81 .300 .366 .481  .847  *8/D
5    Claudell Washington     4.6 1975  20 OAK AL 635  86 182 24 10  77 32  80 .308 .345 .424  .769  *789
6          Jason Heyward     4.4 2010  20 ATL NL 623  83 144 29 18  72 91 128 .277 .393 .456  .849    *9
7         Roberto Alomar     3.8 1988  20 SDP NL 611  84 145 24  9  41 47  83 .266 .328 .382  .709    *4
8          Adrian Beltre     3.7 1999  20 LAD NL 614  84 148 27 15  67 61 105 .275 .352 .428  .780    *5
9           Andruw Jones     3.2 1997  20 ATL NL 467  60  92 18 18  70 56 107 .231 .329 .416  .745 *98/7
10         Butch Wynegar     3.2 1976  20 MIN AL 622  58 139 21 10  69 79  63 .260 .356 .363  .719   *2D
11          Mike Stanton     2.8 2010  20 FLA NL 396  45  93 21 22  59 34 123 .259 .326 .507  .833    *9
12             Joe Torre     2.7 1961  20 MLN NL 441  40 113 21 10  42 28  60 .278 .330 .424  .754    *2
13        Orlando Cepeda     2.5 1958  20 SFG NL 644  88 188 38 25  96 29  84 .312 .342 .512  .854    *3
14          Elvis Andrus     2.4 2009  20 TEX AL 541  72 128 17  6  40 40  77 .267 .329 .373  .702    *6
15       Tony Conigliaro     2.4 1965  20 BOS AL 586  82 140 21 32  82 51 116 .269 .338 .512  .850  *9/8

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/5/2011.

 

Bill Russell was drafted in the 9th round, in 1966 at the tender age of 17 and was in the major leagues three short years later. The fleet footed Russell was strictly an outfielder in 1969 doing most of his work in right field though he was better suited for center field. He did get into 16 games in CF but with Willie Davis patrolling that spot, there was not much time for Russell. Interesting thing about Bill's 20 year old season, and I can remember this as clear as can be: He hit five home runs in only 212 at bats. I thought he was going to be the Dodger version of Bobby Murcer but Russell would play another 17 years and only manage to match or best the meager five home runs total twice. He also walked 22 times in 238 plate appearances for a walk rate of 9.2%. So while the batting average of .226 was disheartening, he still had a plus .300 OB% and those five home runs. He would end his career with a walk rate of 5.3%. So the home run power, the plate discipline in 1969 were simply mirages and what looked like the beginning of a storied career was simply the beginning of a long career of mediocrity. 

Derrell Griffith was brought upto the team in June of 1964 and banged out seven multiple hit games out his first 16 and was hitting a robust .346 on July 2nd.. He also had an OB% of .346. That can't end well and it didn't. He did manage to end the year with a .290 batting average in 254 plate appearances but those five walks might have been the chink in his armor. He played just about every game in Sept/Oct,  but in the outfield, not as the 3rd baseman he came up as.  In 1965 he didn't make the team, played sparingly in the middle of the summer and in Sept call up time. By 1967 his career was over with only 315 plate appearances and 254 came in his 20-year old season.

Ron Fairly came up at the age of 20 in 1959 16 games into the season to play some outfield. He stuck around all year and showed some of the skills he'd own the rest of his long and storied career.  Fairly is one of few players to have a walk rate > 11% and a K rate below 13.5%.  He would end up being sent back down in 1960 but I bet we see him again on this list at age 22.

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