Mike Stanton Is Pretty Good

Mike Stanton reached the 20-HR mark on Saturday, the second straight year he's done so. That's pretty impressive. Not a whole lot of player have done that to start their career, just 28 in fact. According to Baseball Reference, Stanton's tied for 17th on the all-time list for most home runs through the first 188 games of a career, alongside Albert Pujols, Richie Sexson, Matt Nokes and Hank Sauer.

If you just look at the company he's keeping there, you'd think Stanton might be headed for a decent but not particularly impressive career. It's not like Sexson or Nokes amounted to much in the long term. The difference is, though, that Stanton is so damn young. He won't turn 22 until the offseason, and that puts him in much rarer company.

Here's the list of players with at least 40 home runs through their age 21 season:

Ted Williams*, Jimmie Foxx*, Mel Ott*, Eddie Mathews*, Mickey Mantle*, Frank Robinson*, Ken Griffey Jr., Bob Horner, Tony Conigliaro, Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda*, Al Kaline*, Hank Aaron*, Miguel Cabrera, Vada Pinson, Johnny Bench*, Justin Upton, Boog Powell, Andruw Jones, Ruben Sierra, Adrian Beltre

In case you couldn't figure it out, the asterisks belong to guys in the Hall of Fame. Griffey and Rodriguez are pretty much locks to make it when they come up for a vote, Cabrera is solidly on course, and even Jones and Beltre have a shot at enshrinement. Conigliaro, well, who knows how his career would have progressed without that Jack Hamilton fastball to the face. Ditto Horner and his broken wrist and other injuries. By any measure, it's a ridiculously impressive list.

But wait - Stanton still has two-plus months to pad his total. If he hits just 10 more homers this season (which doesn't seem like much of a challenge) the list of 50+ homer hitters through age 21 shrinks to Williams, Ott, Mathews, Mantle, Robinson, Griffey, Horner, Conigliaro, Rodriguez, Cepeda, Kaline and Jones. The only guys on that list who aren't in, or on their way to, the Hall either had promising careers derailed by injury, or are Andruw Jones. And Stanton really doesn't seem like the type to get fat and lazy as soon as he lands his first massive contract.

In short, based on history, there's a very good chance you are watching the beginning of a Hall of Fame career when you watch Stanton come to the plate. And it's for that reason more than any other that the next Home Run Derby I tune in will be Stanton's first.


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