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Youngest Opening Day Starters –

Posted by Sean Forman on March 7, 2011

Youngest Opening Day Starters -

With all of the Bryce Harper discussion going on. Here are the youngest opening day starters since 1920.  This will not include any SP's in AL DH games.

11 Responses to “Youngest Opening Day Starters –”

  1. Chris Reed Says:

    Wild how there is a good mix of both stars of their eras, and total unknowns in the list. Not surprising that the two youngest are at the end of WWII.

  2. topper009 Says:

    Funny to see Bobby Doerr on a list of youngsters since he is now the oldest living HOFer.

  3. DavidRF Says:

    Bob Feller's opening day no-hitter clocks in at #197 (his 3-hitter the year before is #48).

  4. Mr. Dave Says:

    Strasburg would have made this list had he not blown out his elbow. Also nice to see that Hamner's 'record' is probably safe.

  5. Mike S. Says:

    @1: Doerr is oldest living HOF who was a player. Lee MacPhail is in (executive) and is still alive.

  6. DavidRF Says:

    I have Harper at "18.166" on March 31st. If he starts (and I didn't goof up the math) then he'd be 4th between Kranepool and Yount.

  7. John Autin Says:

    As a Tigers fan who watched Rusty Staub huffing down to first on many a 4-6-3 DP, I have a hard time picturing him as a peach-fuzzed 19-year-old with the '63 Astros, er, Colt '45s. I am relieved to note that he played 150 games that year and did not attempt a stolen base.

    Staub is also one of (what I assume must be) a very small group of players who played almost every day in their very first season, but then spent about half the following year in the minors. Houston gave him a full year-and-a-half to show that he was ready, but he just wasn't. After batting .224 with 6 HRs in 150 games as a rookie, he was still an everyday player for the first half of '64, but hit .202 with 4 HRs in 73 games before being sent down to terrorize AAA pitchers for a few months.

  8. Marc Says:

    YOUNT is also the only under 20 years old starter to HOMER on opening day...when he took LUIS TIANT deep @ Fenway on 4/8/75.
    BOBBY DOERR had the most hits as a under 20 year old in his opening day debut; 3.
    AL KALINE is the only player in this category to have stolen a base on opening day; it was the 2nd SB of the 137 bags he would swipe in 22 seasons.

    Of those 18 players...

    5 are INDUCTED IN COOPERSTOWN...the Hall of Famers:
    Bobby Doerr,
    Mickey Mantle,
    Al Kaline,
    Brooks Robinson,
    and Robin Yount.

    1 WILL BE a HOF'er: Ken Griffey Jr.

    15 were ALL STARS in their careers...
    ZERO were pitchers...
    ONE (Hank Ruszkowski) was a CATCHER

    1 became a successful MANAGER and has the 12th most wins in MLB history with 1902; GENE MAUCH

    4 have been on a WORLD SERIES WINNER:
    KRANEPOOL '69 Mets , MANTLE (7x w/NYY),
    B ROBINSON '66 and '70 O's, and BOB KENNEDY '48 Indians

    6 were on NL teams; 12 in the AL

    3 accomplished this "youthful feat" in a Boston Red Sox uniform
    (Bobby Doerr '37, Tony Conigliaro '64, and Billy Consolo '54)

  9. John Autin Says:

    @7, Marc -- Thanks for that info. Well done.

  10. John Autin Says:

    Two players on the list had a WPA over 0.5:

    -- Carl Crawford, 3/31/2003, age 21.238: Crawford hit a walk-off 3-run HR for a 6-4 win, redeeming his previous 0-4. WPA 0.734.

    -- Don Money, 4/8/1969, age 21.305: Money hit 2 HRs (off Fergie Jenkins) and a double, driving in 5. His 3-run HR in the 9th tied the game and sent Jenkins to the showers, and his double off Phil Regan in the 11th put the Phils in front. But Wonderful Willie Smith's pinch-hit, 2-run HR in the bottom of the 11th won the game for Chicago.

    Don Money hit just 6 HRs that season, and it would be over a year before his next 2-HR game, in which he also had 5 RBI and the Phils also lost, by the same 7-6 score.

    Money hit 6 career HRs off Jenkins, his most against any pitcher.

  11. RMc Says:

    By the time he was 21, Robin Yount had started four Opening Days. Wow.