“Well, he’s no Mike Trout!”

Mike Trout turned 21 on Tuesday, and his age-20 season is looking like it might be one of the best in history for that age.  As of this morning, he was 1st in the Majors in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), third in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS, first in runs scored, first in stolen bases (36 of 39), sixth in stolen base percentage and has grounded into one double play in 47 opportunities.  Oh, and he’s also played stellar defense in left field . . . annnnd . . . he made his 2012 debut on April 28.

If you want to just look at OPS+, Trout is having the best full season performance of any age-20 player ever (“full season” here meaning qualified for batting title).  Check out the players that Trout is topping in this chart:

Here are the ten best age-2o seasons in terms of Wins Above Replacement:

Player WAR/pos Year Tm
Alex Rodriguez 9.2 1996 SEA
Al Kaline 8.0 1955 DET
Mike Trout 7.4 2012 LAA
Mel Ott 7.3 1929 NYG
Ted Williams 6.6 1939 BOS
Ty Cobb 6.6 1907 DET
Jason Heyward 6.3 2010 ATL
Vada Pinson 6.3 1959 CIN
Mickey Mantle 6.3 1952 NYY
Frank Robinson 6.2 1956 CIN
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/7/2012.

But what about the flip side of Mike Trout’s age-20 season?  Which players have experienced the WORST age-20 full seasons in terms of OPS+?

Here are the worst age-20 full seasons by WAR:

Player WAR/pos Year Tm
Jimmy Smith -2.6 1915 TOT
Eddie Yost -1.3 1947 WSH
Roberto Clemente -0.7 1955 PIT
Chubby Dean -0.4 1936 PHA
Les Mann -0.4 1913 BSN
Ken Hubbs -0.3 1962 CHC
Sibby Sisti -0.2 1941 BSN
Ed Kranepool 0.0 1965 NYM
Howard Freigau 0.2 1923 STL
Frankie Gustine 0.4 1940 PIT
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/7/2012.

As you can tell, most of the bottom-dwellers never became household names.  However, there certainly are diamonds in the rough.  Thankfully, Yount and Clemente were given time to grow.



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