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From the Other End of the Spectrum
So we recently introduced our All-Age-39 team, following earlier looks at All-Age-40 and All-Age-41 squads. Let's look now to the opposite end of the age spectrum at a roster made up of players less than half the age of the geriatrics who made up the 39ers.

Stop for a moment and realize that in 2007, the only player in the major leagues under the age of 20 was Justin Upton, and he turned 20 in August. That should give you some perspective on how hard it is to earn a spot on this roster. So who does?

You've already thought of Doc Gooden, right? And maybe Robin Yount? But who else can fill out the ranks of a not-even-legally-allowed-to-drink (in the U.S. anyway) team like this one? Let's see ...

First, a few comments ...
Especially among pitchers, the vast majority of Age-19 hurlers on the leaderboard hosted by the greatness that is are (ironically enough) 19th-century vets. Indeed, of the 14 men who won at least 17 games at age 19, only four debuted after the turn of the last century, one of whom splashed down in 1903. So, admittedly arbitrarily, we will limit this team to 20th- and 21st-century debuts (though none of the latter come into play here).

To be balanced, we'll do that for the hitters, too, though it won't matter nearly as much ... If we opened it up to the early years of baseball, we could literally trot out a five-man rotation (John Ward, Elmer Smith, Silver King, Amos Rusie and Larry McKeon) who combined to win a nice, tidy total of 162 games in their five respective Age-19 seasons. Still, the rotation we are "stuck" with is mighty fine so we don't need to fret -- you'll see.

That said, as you might have guessed from the headline to this post, let's meet ...

HEY 19
** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star (not necessarily in Age-19 season)

Starting Lineup
C Pudge Rodriguez* (.264, 1991 TEX)
1B Phil Cavaretta* (.273/9/56 with '36 CHC)
2B Sibby Sisti (.251, '40 BSN)
SS Robin Yount** (.267/8/52 with '75 MIL)
3B Mel Ott** (.322/18/77 with '28 NYG)
LF Mickey Mantle** (.267/13/65 with '51 NYY)
CF Ty Cobb** (.316, 23 SB with '06 DET)
RF Al Kaline** (.276/4/43 with '54 DET; .297, 399 HR, 10 Gold Gloves career)
DH Tony Conigliaro* (.290/24/52 as '64 BOS rookie)

C Ray Schalk** (.286 in 23 games with 1912 NYG; .253, 177 SB in 18 years)
IF Travis Jackson** (.275, '23 NYG; .291, 135 homers, 15 years)
IF Cass Michaels (.245, '45 CHW; ,262 over 12 years)
OF Cesar Cedeno* (.310, 7 HR, 17 SB as '70 HOU rookie)
OF Ken Griffey Jr.* (.264/16/61 with '89 SEA)
UTIL Sherry Magee (.277 with 1904 PHI; .291 career, all but P, C)

RHSP Bob Feller** (17-11, '38 CLE; 266-162 career)
LHSP Hal Newhouser** (9-9, '40 DET; 207-150 career)
RHSP Doc Gooden* (17-9, '85 NYM; 194-112 career)
RHSP Chief Bender** (17-14, 1903 PHA; 212-127 career)
RHSP Wally Bunker (19-5, '64 BAL; 60-52 career)

CL-LH Billy McCool* (6-5, 7 saves, '74 CIN; 58 career saves)
LH-SET Terry Forster (2-3, 1 save, '71 CHW; 127 career saves)
RH-SET Pat Simmons (0-2, 1 save, '28 BOS; out of baseball at 20)
LHR/SP Don Gullett (5-2, 6 saves, '70 CIN; career 109-50, 11 saves)
LHRP/OF Rube Bressler (10-4, 1.77 with '14 PHA; .301 hitter over 19 seasons)

Hey, Nice Team ... That's a fine starting rotation, with three Hall of Famers, one Hall of Fame talent, and the guy (Bunker) who had the best 20th century Age-19 W/L season, though he flamed out pretty early and was out of MLB by age 26 ... It better be a fine rotation, as the bullpen is average at best; McCool and Forster are fine, though neither was ever a Gossage/Sutter/Henke type stopper, while Gullett was a DL trip waiting to happen and Bressler was, despite his fine '14 campaign, a better hitter than pitcher ... The rotation does lean heavily to the right, which is okay given that the bullpen leans quite heavily to the left ...

Actually, we could build a terrific second rotation out of Age-19 guys who didn't even make the roster, in righties Smoky Joe Wood (11-7, 2.29 with 1909 BOS; 117-57 career), Bert Blyleven (10-9, '70 MIN; 287-250 career) and Jim "Catfish" Hunter (8-8, '65 KCA; 224-166 career) along with lefties Mike McCormick (11-8, '58 SFG; 134-128 career) and Ray Sadecki (9-9 with 1960 STL; 135-131 career) ... That doesn't even count RHSP Gary Nolan, who was 14-8, 2.58 with the 1967 Reds at 19 and ended up at 110-70 for his career after encountering injury woes that made his teammate Gullett look like the absolute picture of health ...

Ott was almost exclusively an OF in his ages 17-18-19 seasons and only moved to 3B more or less full-time for his ages 29-30-31 seasons, before heading back to the outfield .. Cobb put up nice numbers at 19, the sort that might have earned him an All-Star nod if the Midsummer Classic existed back then, but he really turned it on -- in both batting average and speed -- in his early 20's ... On the other end of the career spectrum, Casimir "Cass" Michaels debuted at 17, makes our All-19 squad, but was out of the game at 27 ... Oddly, he hit 19 of his 53 career homers in his final two seasons ... Tony Conigliaro, oh, what might have been ..

Feller was in his third big league season and already had 14 wins, heading into his Age-19 campaign ... He wound up with "only" 266 wins despite missing essentially four full season to service in World War II ... extrapolating from his 1941 and 1946 win totals (25+26=51!) figure he might have, health permitting, added another hundred or so wins to his Hall of Fame plaque under different circumstances ...

Speaking of World War II, Prince Hal Newhouser is one of the only viable lefty options for the rotation, and his Hall of Fame plaque is only the tiniest bit tarnished by the fact that his legendary 80-27 three-season run occurred from 1944-46 ... But hey, he had four more 15+ win campaigns, including one reaching 21, immediately following ... McCormick, like Feller, also pitched at ages 17 and 18 -- for the Giants in New York -- then busted out at 19 after the team migrated West ... McCormick was out of baseball even earlier than Feller, by 32 ...

But the "early out" implosion non-honor, even undercutting Bunker's disapperance, goes to HOFer Amos Rusie, who posted eight straight 20+ win campaigns (including six with win toitals between 28 and 36) by age 27, then accumulated just three appearances and no wins (against one loss) after that ... It wasn't a tragic injury that befell Rusie; he sat out two seasons in a contract dispute, was traded by the Giants to the Reds for a young Christy Mathewson, who was 0-3 as a 1900 NYG rookie in his own Age-19 debut (there were 373 wins to come after that) ... Nice deal, there, John McGraw! ... Rusie lasted only part of one season in Cincinnati ... He also played more than 20 career games in the OF and at 1B, compiling a career batting mark of .247 and 176 RBI in just about nine full seasons ...

While we looking at something so age-centric, did you realize that the 19-year-old Hunter was briefly teammates with another Hall of Fame hurler in 58-year-old Satchel Paige? Sure, it was just a one-game stunt comeback for Ol' Satch with Charlie Finley's KC Athletics, but his only start resulted in three innings of one-hit shutout ball -- at more than TRIPLE Hunter's age at the time! ...

Neither Gullett nor Forster ever made an All-Star team ... For some reason, that genuinely surprised me ... As noted above, many other great pitchers debuted at 19 or earlier -- Curt Simmons, for example -- but really just muddled through the early years ... Again, for example, Simmons was only 12-23 through age 20, including 7-13 at 19 for the '48 Phillies ... He ended up with 193 wins, including nine double-digit win campaigns and three All-Star appearances ...

Similar to the win issue mentioned above, 10 of the 11 Age-19 hurlers to lose at least 16 games during that season pitched before 1900 -- the only exception is righty Pete Schneider, 14-19 for the 1915 Reds and out of baseball with a career mark of 59-86 at the age of 23 ... No 19-year-old has ever saved more than McCool's seven games in a single season, and eight are tied for fourth on the all-time Age-19 saves leaderboard with a grand total of ... two!

Sadecki's "Most Similar" player is none other than fellow Age-19 whiz McCormick (though Sadecki is himself only McCormick's third-most similar) ...Both were part of the 1969 SFG rotation, though neither had much left as a SP by that point ... Sure, you can argue that Mantle should be in CF rather than Cobb -- despite his speed, Cobb was never reknowned as a defensive standout -- but in Mantle's Age-19 season, the Yanks had a fellow named DiMaggio patrolling CF, so we'll use that as a tie-breaker (but not, ironically, a Ty-breaker) ... Speaking of center fielders, that's Ken Griffey Jr. and his 10 Gold Gloves on the bench, while Tris Speaker -- who had every bit the overall career Cobb had -- was only 3-for-19 with the 1907 Red Sox at 19 and doesn't even make the roster ...

Cavaretta had a nice year for the Cubbies in '36, but he was actually a noodge better than that the previous year in his Age-18 season, producing .275/8/82 in 146 games ... He didn't make an All-Star team until '44, when he started a run of four straight appearances that included his 1945 NL MVP season ... 1B/LHRP Alfred "Chubby" Dean (.287 with '36 PHA) didn't pitch in the big leagues until he turned 20, but reeled off 30 wins (and 46 losses) between 1937-43 ... It's tempting to find a spot for him on the bench/in the bullpen somewhere ... Hey, is 5'11", 181# really "Chubby"? ... Sisti played mostly at 3B in his Age-19 season, but just a touch more at 2B than at 3B or SS over his career ...

Pudge starts behind the plate, even though he's nowhere to be found on the leaderboards -- he only played in 88 MLB games at 19, but the very next year he started a run of 10 straight All-Star appearances, and has 14 overall since then ... And sure, Jose Oquendo did everything but DH in his big league career, even pitching three times -- including the game where he played all nine positions -- but his .256 batting average over 12 years leaves him a lap behind Magee for the UTIL spot on Hey 19's bench ... Speaking of "Bench," Johnny debuted at 19, but hit just .163 with one dinger in 26 games with the 1967 nascent Big Red Machine, so we'll give the backup slot to his fellow Hall of Famer Schalk, who hit 90 points better in about the same amount of playing time ...

So, Bauxites ... who's missing?
Hey 19! | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
HippyGilmore - Saturday, January 26 2008 @ 11:36 PM EST (#179391) #

I don't know if putting starters in relief roles goes against your rules, but considering he basically pitched a reliever's amount of innings in half a season, I think the bullpen would be much improved by slotting in Felix Hernandez (84 1/3 IP, 2.67 ERA, 157 ERA+) for Pat Simmons (69 IP, 4.04 ERA, 100 ERA+). It's possible I'm just desperate for a King Felix loophole, though.

Simon - Sunday, January 27 2008 @ 02:25 AM EST (#179394) #
I really like these features, but if you do another single year one, could we get more interesting numbers than win-loss record and save totals?  If nothing else, it would save me from looking up all these guys' ERAs and hitting lines on my own while reading.
Hey 19! | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.