Mike Stanton is hanging out with some pretty select company these days.
And with each additional home run, that company becomes more and more select.
Stanton, the Florida Marlins wunderkind right fielder, is currently 21 years old and will be for the remainder of the season. And what he has done as a 21-year-old, thus far, has been amazing: with 29 home runs, Stanton is one off of the league lead, while his 76 RBI have him on pace for over 100 on the year.
But it is what Stanton has done in his first two years combined that really blows the mind.
Through his first two seasons, Stanton has 51 career home runs. In baseball history, since 1901, Stanton has the 13th most home runs by a 21-year-old, having recently passed none other than Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx on that list.
And check out the remaining 12 players;
Mel Ott (86), Tony Conigliaro (84), Eddie Mathews (72), Frank Robinson (67), Alex Rodriguez (64), Ken Griffey, Jr., (60), Al Kaline (59), Mickey Mantle (57), Bob Horner (56), Andruw Jones (54), Ted Williams (54) and Orlando Cepeda (52).
That is a list that includes seven Hall of Famers and potentially three future Hall of Famers (depending on how you feel about Andruw Jones).
Given that Stanton current has 51 home runs, it would be entirely reasonable to expect him to hit the four more home runs he would need to move past Cepeda, Williams and Jones and crack the top ten.
The interesting thing about this list is how assured career success becomes when a player shows such power at such an early age. Of the 12 players ahead of Stanton, 10 had Hall of Fame or Hall of Fame-caliber careers, and the other two (Conigliaro and Horner) had their careers derailed by injuries.
(At this point, one has to wonder whether I am jinxing the poor boy.)
Perhaps the point of all this is: enjoy what you are seeing, baseball fans, because guys like this only come along so often.
And by the end of the season, what Mike Stanton is doing may rise to the level of a once-in-a-lifetime event.