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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the best U22 seasons in MLB history

Profile Picture: Andrew Champagne

September 22nd, 2021

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is having a stellar season for any player, and the fact he’s doing it as a 22-year-old makes it even more impressive. In his third MLB season, the Toronto Blue Jays slugger is leading the American League in most offensive categories, and he’s on the short list for this season’s American League Most Valuable Player award.

Barring a total collapse down the stretch, Guerrero will finish with a season that ranks among the best ever by a player this young. Here’s the current list of the top campaigns assembled by players age 22 and under!

5. Babe Ruth, 1916 (age 21)

RecordERASOBB
23-12
1.75
170
118

Still a full-time pitcher at this point, Ruth led the American League with a 1.75 ERA in his third season with the Boston Red Sox. He went 23-12 that season, paced the Junior Circuit with nine shutouts, and won the second of his seven World Series rings when the Sox topped the Brooklyn Dodgers.

4. Alex Rodriguez, 1996 (age 20)

BAHRRBISB
.358
36
123
15

Long before steroid allegations and various controversies enveloped his career, A-Rod was a fresh-faced 20-year-old that earned an AL batting title. He hit .358 in his first full season with the Mariners and also led the league with 54 doubles and 141 runs scored. He finished second to Juan Gonzalez in that season’s MVP voting, when he was beaten by just three vote points.

3. Mike Trout, 2014 (age 22)

BAHRRBISB
.287
36
111
16

We could have included Trout's 2012 and 2013 seasons as well, but we went with 2014 because this was when he won his first MVP award. Trout led the American League in runs scored for the third straight year and also paced the Junior Circuit with 111 RBIs and 338 total bases.

2. Walter Johnson, 1910 (age 22)

RecordERASOBB
25-17
1.36
313
76

"The Big Train" was undoubtedly the top pitcher of the 1910s, and he rang in the decade with the first of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons. He finished at 25-17, with a 1.36 ERA and 313 strikeouts in 370 innings pitched. Eight of his wins were shutouts, and he yielded just 56 earned runs over the entire season.

1. Ted Williams, 1941 (age 22)

BAHRRBISB
.406
37
120
2

It’s tough to go against someone who did something no other hitter has done in the last 80 years. This was the season where the "Splendid Splinter" batted .406, with a league-leading 37 home runs. His on-base percentage was an astronomical .553, and that combined with a .735 slugging percentage gave Williams an otherworldly 1.287 OPS.

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