On this day in 1963, Pete Rose was named as the National League's Rookie of the Year. Playing all but one of his games at second base, Rose hit .273 with 41 RBI and 101 runs. His batting average, though not impressive compared to his later accomplishments in that category, was still 16 points higher than the league average. He already displayed a willingness to walk, doing so 55 times. Rose stole 13 bags, but was thrown out 15 times as well. All in all, it was a good season, and the year's rookie class was rather weak, which made Rose stand out a bit more.
Rose slumped badly in 1964. His average was still a respectable .269, but he drew fewer walks and slugged a mere .326. If ZiPS or PECOTA had existed at the time, they probably would have pegged Rose's chances at breaking Ty Cobb's hits record at virtually nil. After two full seasons in the major leagues, Rose had an OPS+ of 91 and 309 hits. There's certainly nothing embarrassing about either of those figures, but Rose would be 24 in 1965.
A 24 year-old player still has youth on his side, but someone chasing the career hits record needs to start collecting hits rapidly and at a young age. Ty Cobb had 959 hits through his age-23 season, which is the best total of all time. Many of the players near the top of the list are Hall of Famers -- Mel Ott, Al Kaline, Robin Young, Ted Williams, etc. -- but there are many mediocre players between them and Rose. Delmon Young had 505. Eric Hosmer had 465. Alfredo Griffin had 435. B.J. Upton, he of the career .248 average, had 371 hits. All told, 347 players had more hits through the age of 23 than Pete Rose did.
Of course, everyone knows the rest of the story. Rose didn't have a subpar season again until 1980 when he was 39 years old. In those 15 seasons in the interim, Rose cracked 3,063 hits for an average of 204 per season. His OPS+ in that span was 130.
On this day in 1989, former Red Lew Fonseca died in Ely, IA at the age of 90.
On this day in 1991, the Reds selected outfielder Dwayne Henry off of the waiver wire from the Houston Astros.
On this day in 2007, the Reds signed righty Justin Lehr.
Kevin Mitchell is Batman and Quone each earned one point last Wednesday. The Giants and the Pirates finished second and third respectively in 1965.
Which Red collected the most hits through his age-23 season? This player is ninth all-time through the age of 23. Ken Griffey, Jr. is actually above this player, but Griffey does not count as the hits had to come as a member of the Reds.