Twenty-two players have hit 150 home runs or more by the age of 25 (Per baseball reference, the last season included is when a player is no older than 25 on June 30thof that season). The list below is a who’s who of players that hit for power at a young age. You’ll notice a large number of active players have accomplished this feat, and that 10 of the 17 retired players are in the Hall of Fame.
A few more active players look like they are about to join the club
Three favorites are Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. According to the Oliver five year projection system, each of these players will reach over 150 home runs by the end of his age 25 season.
This chart shows each player’s current home run totals, the seasons played through so far, the number of additional home runs Oliver projects through the 25 season, the projected total runs by the age of 25 (Career HR + Oliver projected), and finally what each player would need to average to hit 150 runs by the age of 25. This last measure is interesting because it gives you an idea of what level each player would need to fall below to miss the mark.
Minor league players might knock out A-Rod for #1
Miguel Sano, Joey Gallo and Javier Baez make up a trio of minor leaguers who Oliver believes could also make the list. Not only does Oliver project these three players will to fly past 150 home runs, he predicts Sano and Gallo could pass A-Rod for the most home runs by age 25.
*the Gallo projections are only through his age 24 season so if he kept up the home run pace he would be in the 270s at the age of 25
While Sano, Gallo and Baez have a high number of projected home runs, they also have a high number of projected strikeouts. Adam Dunn shows that you can be very successful as a player who strikes out & hits home runs frequently. But the three minor league players could be even more extreme. Dunn struck out 26% of the time and homered 5.7% of the time through his age 25 season. The minor league trio are predicted to strike out between 32 and 43% of the time and homer between 7 and 8% of the time. Could these three players redefine the all or nothing hitter, or are they somehow breaking projection systems?
Reasons to be skeptical
The Oliver model is complex and would take a long time to completely dissect, but from what I can tell it has the following limitations (these limitations are intentional because they add other value to the projections system):
#1 The Assumption of Games – Oliver projections assume a player gets 600 major-league plate appearances every year. This is not necessarily a given because top minor league players will likely spend part of a season in the minors before moving up to the majors, or in Sano’s case miss games rehabbing an injury.
#2 Inherent Uncertainty – First, projections based off minor league numbers have more uncertainty than those based off major league numbers. Second, each additional year projected in the future adds more uncertainty because each year you go out you are guessing what happened the previous year – vs. knowing what happened the previous year. Compounded, these two stated effects create a good deal of inherent uncertainty.
So, what does this all mean?
If the projections are anywhere close to correct, it looks like we are going to see a new breed of power hitter in the major league soon. Although the projections are far from foregone conclusions, it’s another great reason why we watch the game of baseball.
Article originally posted at www.fangraphs.com/community