National League Rookie of the Year front-runners Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves and Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals are living up to the hype in the first two games of the head-to-head series between their teams.
• In Game 1, Acuña recorded his first career four-hit game, while Soto became the third teenager in MLB history to reach 20 home runs.
• Acuña, 20, is the youngest Braves player with a four-hit game since Andruw Jones did it against the Montreal Expos in September 1996. Three of his four hits Friday came off NL Cy Young contender Max Scherzer.
• Acuña is the first rookie with three hits in a game off Scherzer since the right-hander joined the Nationals in 2015.
• In Game 2, the 19-year-old Soto reached base for a 20th consecutive game, becoming the third teenager since 1920 with a streak that long and the first since Mickey Mantle went for 20 in a row in 1951.
• On Saturday, Soto also became the first teenager in MLB history (since the modern definition of the stolen base was established in 1898) to steal three bases in a game.
Among the greatest seasons for their ages
Soto is on track to have the highest OBP (.420) by any teenager in a season in MLB history. He has the third-most home runs (20) in a season by a teenager. That's behind the NL record of 22 hit by Bryce Harper for the Nationals in 2012 and the American League and MLB record of 24 hit by Tony Conigliaro for the Boston Red Sox in 1964.
As for Soto's active on-base streak now that he has tied Mantle's mark for second-best from a teen since 1920, he's in pursuit of Mel Ott's mark of 23 straight games on base for the New York Giants as a teenager in 1928.
Acuña is one of seven players with 25 home runs in a season before turning 21, and the fastest to ever reach that mark, doing so in just 92 games. The other seven? Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Conigliaro, Al Kaline, Orlando Cepeda and Eddie Mathews. Only Conigliaro is not in the Hall of Fame.
Power surges: Elias reports that Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in three straight games since Jimmy Sheckard did it in 1898 for the Brooklyn Bridegrooms. Elias also found that Acuña became the youngest player in MLB history to hit eight home runs in an eight-game span, something Hank Aaron never did.
Sustained success: Soto's .421 OBP is tied for the NL lead with Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds (minimum 400 plate appearances). ... Acuña has tied for the NL lead in home runs (18) and leads the majors in slugging (.707) since he was moved into the leadoff spot after the All-Star break. His eight leadoff home runs are tied for the most hit after the All-Star break by any player in MLB history (with Chris Young for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007).
Great rookie duos across sports history: Take it in, because you don't often see two young phenoms perform like this in the same season.
• 1951: Willie Mays vs. Mickey Mantle
As a 20-year-old, Mays hit 20 home runs for the New York Giants in 1951 to win the NL Rookie of the Year. He went head-to-head with 19-year-old Mantle and the New York Yankees in the World Series, but Mantle seriously injured his knee trying to catch a Mays fly ball.
• 1979-80: Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson finished 1-2 in the 1979-80 NBA Rookie of the Year voting. Bird also finished fourth in MVP voting for his season with the Boston Celtics, but it was Magic who won NBA Finals MVP for the Los Angeles Lakers. He's still the only rookie to ever accomplish the feat in NBA history.
• 1981: Lawrence Taylor vs. Ronnie Lott
Taylor won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award in 1981 in his debut season with the New York Giants to become the only rookie to ever do that. He had to fend off fellow rookie Ronnie Lott, who had seven interceptions for the San Francisco 49ers, including three pick-sixes. Lott had the last laugh with two picks -- including one returned for a touchdown -- to eliminate Taylor and the Giants from the playoffs that season.
• 2005-06: Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin
No. 1 overall picks Ovechkin and Crosby both made their NHL debuts in 2005. Crosby became the youngest player in NHL history with 100 points in a season at age 18, but he finished second in voting for the Calder Trophy (for the NHL's rookie of the year) behind Ovechkin.