The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Players With At Least 50 Doubles Through Their Age-21 Seasons

Angels outfielder Mike Trout recently reached the 50 career doubles plateau.  As of this writing, he has 53 doubles.  He is, of course, now about half-way through his age 21 season.  That got me to wondering how many other players in baseball history managed to accumulate at least 50 doubles through age 21.  While I can’t say for sure that I’ve managed to list every single player in history who reached that number, I doubt I missed very many.  As you’ll notice, it is quite an impressive list.  A bit more than half the players on this list (57%) are already in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  At least a couple of others are likely to make it in as well.

In general, it is rare for a player on this list, who has been retired for more than ten years, to NOT be in the HOF.  In fact, I count only four names on this list who fit that description.  That would seem to bode well for Mike Trout’s future as a potential Hall of Famer.

Here is the list, beginning with the most doubles accumulated through a player’s age-21 season:

1)  Mel Ott – 106

2)  Cesar Cedeno – 100

3)  Alex Rodriguez – 100

4)  Robin Yount – 95

5)  Ken Griffey, Jr. – 93

6)  Vada Pinson – 91

7)  Ted Williams – 87

8)  Ty Cobb – 85

9)  George Davis – 84

10) Sherry Magee – 75

11) Al Kaline – 74

12) Orlando Cepeda – 73

13) Mickey Mantle – 72

14) Adrian Beltre – 66

15) Hank Aaron – 64

16) Jimmie Foxx – 61

17) Ivan Rodriguez – 60

18) Andruw Jones – 58

19) Jimmy Sheckard – 57

19) Justin Upton – 57

21) Frank Robinson – 56

21) Ron Santo – 56

23) Eddie Mathews – 54

24) Roberto Clemente – 53

24) Mike Trout – 53

26) Miguel Cabrera – 52

26) Joe Medwick – 52

28) Roberto Alomar – 51

If you want to exclude George Davis, who played half his career in the 19th century, and Jimmy Sheckard, whose age 21 season occurred in 1900, you are down to 26 players.

Sherry Magee’s appearance on this list is no fluke.  He was a very fine player for the first two decades of the 20th century for whom a legitimate Hall of Fame case can be made.

Ken Griffey, Jr. is a lock to be elected into The Hall, and Ivan Rodriguez should be as well.  Adrian Beltre’s glove, as well as his bat, already place him among the top ten third basemen in baseball history.

Alex Rodriguez might spend the rest of his natural days in a kind of baseball limbo.  Does he even really care?

Every team that passed on Justin Upton this off-season (I’m talking to you, New York Mets) should be kicking themselves that they didn’t sign him to a long-term contract when they had the chance.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Braves are in first place in their division.

By the end of the 2014 season, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will also have completed their age-21 seasons.  Machado leads the A.L. with an amazing 27 doubles already this year, and has 35 for his career.  For Bryce Harper, whatever he doesn’t hit over the wall he’ll probably just hit through the wall.  At any rate, he has 33 career doubles and is also likely to surpass 50 career doubles by the end of next season, if not sooner.

Although they are extremely young, and at a very early stage in their respective careers, it may not be unreasonable to assess the likelihood of Trout, Harper and Machado someday making it into The Hall at somewhere around 50-60 percent each.


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13 thoughts on “Players With At Least 50 Doubles Through Their Age-21 Seasons

  1. some of those players are too old for me to know anything about, but ya gotta figure lots of em’ were like pete rose and thinking double before they got outta the batters box. i think rose can’t be on the list because he started at 21 i’m wondering if all these guys are fast? i don’t know anything about mel ott, but mantle was probably fast before his knees got messed up. and a-rod, yount, and griffey were fast, but then ted williams musta been really slow, but he probably hit em’ where they i love that expression.

    • Right you are! Sign him up. Strange that he then went on to hit just 154 more over the next 13 seasons. It seems he found his peak early, and kind of plateaued at a very early age. Considering the talent among the rest of the players on that list, he does now stand out as something of an oddity.

  2. Nothing like a nice painful reminder of Cesar Cedeno. Not surprised to see him here he came up very young. But I can’t even think of Cedeno without thinking about him joining the Cardinals in late August of 1985, and out of nowhere having the best month of an excellent career.

    No way the Cardinals win that Division in 1985 without him.

    • I wonder how his career would have turned out if he’d played in a better hitter’s park, or in a different era? He looked like a lock for the HOF through about age 25 or 26, then he was never quite as good after that again, except for a few months here and there.
      Thanks for the comment, and the correction about Kranepool.

  3. Oh, and nice research, Bill.


  4. This wouldn’t be the first thing I would think of when thinking of a high correlation with a quality career, but it makes sense–to do this, you’ve got to come up young and have a little pop in your bat. There are certainly no humpty-dumptys on this list.

    • Yeah, that’s basically it. And for lots of those guys on the list, doubles at 21 became homers at 26 or 27. But if you begin as a singles hitter, you’ll probably end up as one, and there are lots more power-hitters in The Hall than there are singles hitters.
      Thanks for reading,

  5. I can’t think of the last time I thought of Manny Machado as a great player. Thanks for reminding me how good he is.

    • Well, he definitely belongs in the conversation as greatest young player, along with Trout and Harper. We may be witnessing the beginning of a new Golden Age of baseball.

      • Who the hell is “Manny Machado”???? Sounds like a made up name.

        Bill, I’m surprised that Rusty Staub isn’t on there, but he isn’t. I guess he became more of a prolific doubles hitter later on.

        As did Ed Kranepool.


      • Machado is a highly talented kid on the Orioles. He’s at third base now, but will probably move over to shortstop in a year or two. Staub actually came very close to making this list. Through his age-21 season, he had 47 doubles. Ended up with 499 in his career.
        Thanks for reading,

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