ATLANTA -- There has been a lot of talk about the many battles that could be staged between Braves outfielder Jason Heyward and Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. But Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton is providing the reminder that he is yet another of the elite rookies who have graced the National League East this season.
Entering Friday, Stanton and Heyward both had 12 homers. According to MLB Productions researcher Roger Schlueter, this marks just the fourth time since 1876 that players, in their age-20 season or younger, hit at least 12 home runs.
Heyward and Stanton are now part of an impressive group. The only other duos to do this were Jimmy Foxx (13) and Mel Ott (18) in 1928; Willie Mays (20) and Mickey Mantle (13) in '51; and Eddie Mathews (25) and Mantle (23) in '52.
"It's not surprising to me, with the kind of year they are having," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "[Stanton] and Jason Heyward have the same character. They're pretty much cut in the same way. They know they have a lot of talent. But they don't want to stop there. They want to be the best they can be."
Recognized as the game's top prospect, Heyward burst on the scene in impressive fashion during the Braves' Opening Day victory over the Cubs. With the first swing of his career, the young right fielder drilled a three-run homer off Carlos Zambrano.
Seasons in which two players in their age-20 season or younger have hit 12+ home runs
Jimmie Foxx, 13
Mel Ott, 18
Willie Mays, 20
Mickey Mantle, 13
Eddie Mathews, 25
Mickey Mantle, 23
Mike Stanton, 12
Jason Heyward, 12
Heyward hit his 12th homer while celebrating his 21st birthday on Monday. It marked just the second time he had homered since May 29. A jammed right thumb plagued him throughout June and forced him to spend the two weeks leading up to the All-Star break on the disabled list.
Stanton made his Major League debut on June 8 and hit his first career homer 10 days later off Rays right-hander Matt Garza. The Marlins outfielder has hit 10 of his home runs while batting .302 and compiling an impressive 1.096 over his past 31 games.
This surge produced by Stanton mirrors how Heyward began this season. Through the first 46 games of his career, the Braves phenom batted .301 with 10 homers and a 1.017 OPS.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.