While rookie hitting phenoms in the 90s were clearly fueled by the cream and the clear, their 80s brethren were more fond of nasally-ingested pharmaceuticals. Do you realize that Vince Coleman stole more than 100 bases for three years in a row? He stole 110 in his rookie season, which led to 107 runs. Tell me a guy can do that on ‘roids…
Of course, Bill James’ similarity scores give the best point totals for average and slugging percentage, so base stealing does not impress the mighty one. But we still have some good stuff here.
We have Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire when they were skinny kids, proving that both had ample baseball talent even before they discovered andro and such-like. Ah, the good old days.
Let’s go back, back, back to the era of synth-pop and John Hughes movies, and compare our rookie sporting icons to the 2001 version of Albert Pujols:
|Albert Pujols||Saint Louis Cardinals||2001||1000|
|Mark McGwire||Oakland A’s||1987||961|
|Alvin Davis||Seattle Mariners||1984||885|
|Benito Santiago||San Diego Padres||1987||873|
|Joe Charboneau||Cleveland Indians||1980||870|
|Cal Ripken, Jr.||Baltimore Orioles||1982||852|
|Ron Kittle||Chicago White Sox||1983||852|
|Darryl Strawberry||New York Mets||1983||848|
|Jose Canseco||Oakland A’s||1986||821|
|Chris Sabo||Cincinnati Reds||1988||813|
|Jerome Walton||Chicago Cubs||1989||810|
|Steve Sax||Los Angeles Dodgers||1982||798|
|Vince Coleman||Saint Louis Cardinals||1985||773|
|Ozzie Guillen||Chicago White Sox||1985||729|
|Walt Weiss||Oakland A’s||1988||729|
Since we’re starting to get into an era when I was younger and not prone to sit through baseball games as much, some of these names are surprising to me. Big Mac up top is not odd, until you remember that this was pre-Andro. Big Mac was a MacLean back then.
I don’t really remember Alvin Davis, and in my mind’s eye, Benito Santiago looks like the fossilized version who played for the Giants in his late 30s. To think that he was a hotter rookie hitter than Ripken, Chris Sabo or Straw seems amazing.
So far, nobody has surpassed Sir Albert in this statistical tomfoolery. Next week, it’s medallions on hairy chests, wife-swapping, and disco, as we head way back into the 1970s.