Stats & Info: Orlando Cepeda

Red Sox overcome Rangers running wild

April, 20, 2010
Darnell McDonald was the hero for the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night, getting his first career walk-off hit. It helped overcome a franchise-record nine stolen bases by the Texas Rangers. The last time the Red Sox allowed nine stolen bases in a game was October 3, 1913 at Washington.

The game-winner came after he tied the game with a 2-run HR in the 8th inning. The last time a player hit his first career HR as a Red Sox player in the 8th inning or later to tie or put his team ahead was another Red Sox "immortal": Jonathan Van Every, April 29, 2009 vs Indians.

Another player who came up big in a big spot has had significant more hype around him this season: Atlanta's Jason Heyward. He hit a game-tying HR with two outs in the 9th inning to help the Braves send their game vs the Philadelphia Phillies into extras. Atlanta would eventually win on a Nate McLouth walk-off HR.

Heyward now has 16 RBI in his first 13 games. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that Heyward's RBI total is tied for the most by any player under the age of 21 in his first 13 career games since 1920.

Most RBI in First 13 Career Games
Under Age 21, Since 1920

2010 Jason Heyward, 16
1939 Ted Williams, 16
2003 Jose Reyes, 12
1958 Orlando Cepeda, 11

Maybe the most impressive starting pitcher in the early-evening slate of games on Tuesday was John Danks.

Danks made batters miss 55 percent of his pitches out of the strike zone were swung at by the Tampa Bay Rays. (The MLB average is 31 percent). Danks threw first-pitch strikes on 71 percent of his plate appearances (MLB average is 58 percent. He wasn't automatic, but he was close. 93 percent of his two-strike counts on Tuesday became outs (MLB average is 72 percent).

BP: Baseball's best young player

April, 1, 2010
The Diamondbacks enter the 2010 season with a slew of question marks about their roster. Will Brandon Webb successfully return from shoulder surgery? Can Edwin Jackson make fans forget the questionable trade of Max Scherzer? Is this the year Stephen Drew finally establishes himself as a legit threat? And will Chris Young stop hitting like he’s the other Chris Young? With so much up in the air, it’s easy to forget the Snakes boast superstar-in-the-making Justin Upton -- and the numbers show he might be the best young talent in the game. We've spent a lot of time this spring talking about what Jason Heyward might do; it's easy to forget that Upton is already doing it.

Upton's 2009 campaign was so good that there are few to which you can compare it. After all, how many 21-year-olds are capable of producing a .366 OBP/.532 SLG in the major leagues with 20-plus dingers and 20-plus steals? To find out, we sifted through about the past half-century of players, looking for those who met the following criteria in a season:

• 21 or younger
• 450 plate appearances or more
• .350 OBP or higher
• .500 SLG or higher
• 20 home runs or more
• 10 stolen bases or more

And only seven players qualified:

Upton placed himself in extremely limited company last season, and his peers don’t need any introduction. Even the lesser-known names above -- like Vada Pinson and Cesar Cedeno -- carved out solid careers, with the former racking up more than 2,700 hits, 256 homers and 305 steals, and the latter bopping 199 dingers to go with 550 steals.

But here's another way to put Upton's 2009 season in perspective: How many players his age or younger have produced a .230 Isolated Power? Fourteen.

Players who have achieved the feat include Eddie Matthews, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, among others.

PECOTA forecasts Upton to hit a nice .282 BA/.357 OBP/.501 SLG in his third full season -- a bit of a regression from his fantastic 2009 campaign. But when a slash line like that seems low to the naked eye, you know you have something special. Although Upton hasn’t forced his way into the spotlight by hitting 40 home runs or stealing 50 bases, it's only a matter of time before he does.

Eric Seidman is an author of Baseball Prospectus.