With the 2013 All-Star Game tonight at Citi Field, there looks to be a changing of the guard in baseball. The young guys are taking over and out are the guys like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols. Tonight a lot of the games future Stars will be on display to show you baseball will be in good hands for the next decade and beyond. So without further ado, I give you my all 25 and under team.
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (23 years old)
Very rarely do you find a catcher who can hit for average. Guys like Buster Posey, Joe Mauer and Yadier Molina are the exception, not the rule, and Perez will be the next to join that elite group. Perez is a career .309 hitter over his first three MLB seasons. He also can impact the game behind the plate as he has thrown out 33% of runners over his short career including a league leading 42% last year.
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Paul Goldschmidt (25)
Goldschmidt had a very good 2012 campaign and has continued to improve this year. He has already matched his home run total from the previous year and is hitting over .300. He also has a stellar .996 fielding percentage.
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (23)
Altuve is a good combination of contact and average and seldom strikes out. Second basemen like Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia do not come around very often and while Altuve is not on their level, he is a very solid play at a tough position to fill.
Third Base: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (20)
Machado has been phenomenal in his first two seasons. The youngest player on this roster may be one of the most mature. He is currently leading the league in doubles and hitting them at record pace. Seriously. He is on pace to break Earl Webb’s 67 doubles in 1931. He leads the Major Leagues in WAR at 5.0 and is first in the American League in defensive WAR at 2.5. While I am not the biggest fan of WAR, it shows how he is already a great player in this league.
Shortstop: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers (23)
Coming into the year, I would have given the role to Starlin Castro. However, all of Castro’s numbers are down and Segura has come on as a star in this league. He is hitting .325 with 24 stolen bases. Even more surprisingly, Segura has 11 home runs through 81 games after hitting only 26 in over 1500 minor league plate appearances.
Left Field: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (20)
No Clown Questions here, He’s “The Chosen One.” Everybody knows that Harper is the real deal. After winning NL Rookie of the Year in 2012, Harper came right back in 2013 hitting two home runs on Opening Day and 12 total before landing on the disabled list. He then hit another homer in his first at bat back from the DL. If he stays healthy, he is a perennial MVP candidate.
Center Field: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (21)
While Harper is an MVP candidate, Trout was arguably the Most Valuable Player last year in the American League. After a slow start in 2013, he has come back just as strong as last year. He is on pace for 100 runs and 100 RBIs and continuing to hit over .300. Trout is possibly the best all-around player in the league at only 21 years old.
Right Field: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (23)
Stanton has some of the most raw power in all of baseball. If he can stay healthy and had someone protecting him in the lineup, he could be a serious 50 home run a year threat.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (25)
Kershaw has led the league in ERA the past two years and currently leads the category again with a sub-2.00 ERA. He is a guy who gets a lot of strikeouts, can eat innings, and is considered by many the best pitcher in baseball…at only 25 years old.
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals (24)
Not allowed to exceed 160 innings last year, Strasburg still struck out almost 200 batters. He is a true power pitcher who will be at the top of the Nationals rotation for a very long time. Many may worry about his arm after Tommy John surgery two years ago; however, the more he pitches, the stronger his arm will get. But that’s another article for another day.
Matt Harvey, New York Mets (24)
Harvey reminds me a lot of Strasburg. He is a power pitcher who strikes out a ton of hitters. He may even be better than Strasburg as he strikes out more, walks fewer, and gives up fewer home runs per nine innings. He has a league leading 141 strikeouts over 123 innings with a 2.27 ERA. He has been absolutely dominating thus far.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants (23)
I have predicted a Bumgarner Cy Young award season each of the past two years. While he having his best season as a Major Leaguer this year, he is going against stiff competition and most likely will not win the award unless he has a killer second half. Mark my words: he will win multiple Cy Young awards before he is done pitching.
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox (24)
Sale made the transition from reliever to starter and could not have done so better. He posted a 17-8 record with a 3.05 ERA. While the wins are not there this year, he has a sub-3.00 ERA and wins are not always a reflection of the pitchers performance.
What a rotation this would be. A perfect match of lefties and righties and power throughout. The toughest question would be who is the Opening Day starter? If you are going off of the best for the longest, Kershaw would be the ace; if you base it off this year, Harvey is without question the ace.
Craig Kimbrel (Closer), Atlanta Braves (25)
Aroldis Chapman (Set-Up), Cincinnati Reds (25)
Matt Moore (Long Relief), Tampa Bay Rays (25)
Addison Reed, Chicago White Sox (24)
Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals (24)
Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies (25)
Please leave comments if you think I forgot anybody or disagree with a player. Thank You.
“The Freak” Tim Klonica