Elias Sports Bureau research shows that 10 players under the age of 25 homered in their team’s first game of the season. That’s the most such Opening Day home runs in major-league history.
Those home runs were hit by
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals — Harper’s season-opening home run was his fifth on Opening Day. Elias points out that he has more Opening Day homers before the age of 25 than any other player.
Perhaps it’s a sign of a bounceback for Harper, who had the biggest WAR decline for a position player MVP in major-league history. The homer came on a 95-mph pitch. Harper had a 1.189 OPS versus fastballs in 2015, but that dropped to .853 last season.
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros — Correa homered on Opening Day for the second consecutive season. He’s the only player in Astros history to have multiple Opening Day home runs before turning 23.
Correa may be looking to get back to his 2015 homer hitting. He had 22 in 99 games that season but slipped to 20 in 153 games in 2016.
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers — Elias notes that Seager is the second-youngest Dodgers player (age 22) to homer on Opening Day. Pitcher Don Drysdale was 79 days younger when he homered in 1959.
Seager got off to a slow start last season, homering twice in his first 32 games. He had 24 homers and a .536 slugging percentage the rest of the way.
Pederson raised his batting average to .246 and slugging percentage to .495 last season, but neither he nor Seager homered in the six-game loss to the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series.
Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers –- Odor, who recently turned 23, is the youngest player in Rangers history to hit multiple home runs on Opening Day. He edged out Juan Gonzalez, who had two against the Baltimore Orioles in 1993. Odor was the second player in as many days to homer in his first two at-bats this season, along with San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner.
Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox — Benintendi had a homer and three RBIs in the Red Sox’s win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. At age 22, he’s the youngest player to have three RBIs in a season opener in Red Sox history.
Benintendi was Keith Law’s No. 1 prospect in his top 100 rankings. He showed he can handle the heat. The homer came on a 98-mph pitch from Pirates starter Gerrit Cole.
Willson Contreras — Contreras had a dramatic home run that went for naught, a three-run game-tying homer in the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. It was the first go-ahead or tying home run that late in a game in his career.
Contreras will likely be the Cubs’ everyday catcher this season. He has shown himself to be adept at both the offensive end with his homer hitting (13 in 256 at-bats) and defensively with his pitch-framing (he rated 18th out of the 76 qualified catchers at getting extra strikes for pitchers last season).
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians — At age 24, Ramirez is the youngest Indians player to homer on Opening Day since 22-year-old Manny Ramirez in 1995 (also against the Rangers).
Ramirez impressed in the 2016 postseason. Though he struggled against the Toronto Blue Jays (1-for-17), he was 5-for-10 with four runs scored in the American League Division Series against the Red Sox and hit .310 with a home run in the World Series.
Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins — Sano helped the Twins snap an eight-game Opening Day losing streak with a homer and two RBIs in a win over the Kansas City Royals, against whom he was hitting .180 entering the day.
Sano is trying to rebound from a late-season slump. He hit .192 with five home runs and 54 strikeouts in 125 at-bats in his last 33 games last season.