Let us give thanks for all the young talent in baseball right now – CBSSports.com
Thanksgiving! ‘Tis a time of gratitude for home, hearth, family, and nourishment! Those are the important things on this fine and bloated Thursday, but let us also be thankful for the sport that binds us. That would be baseball, of course.
It’s one thing to give thanks for baseball as a general source of uplift and betterment, which I’m quite sure all us do without ceasing. It’s another thing to give thanks to the present specifics of this, our baseball. That means giving thanks for the overflowing cornucopia of young talent that currently graces the game. Or a delicious pie with young talent filling. Your choice.
Premature is what it would be to declare this to be a golden age of young baseball talent at the major-league level, but the base ingredients are indeed there. A good sign? That the NL MVP (Bryce Harper) was younger than the NL Rookie of the Year (Kris Bryant).
To etch all of this a bit more sharply, let’s name-check the most promising of the young talent currently in our midst. Naming an “all-25-and-under” team would be one way to go about this, but our Thanksgiving spread of baseball-ing youngsters is such that we need a bit more sprawl to accommodate it — a leaf added to the family table, if you will. So we’ll name an “all-25-and-under” 25-man roster. Tough and narrow decisions abound, but these are the names you should be thankful for, provided that the present and future of baseball aesthetics are important to you.
The criteria? Obviously, the player in question must be younger than age 26. As well, I’m approaching this as though I’ve been tasked by a mighty team-owning industralist with assembling a roster designed to compete now and well into the future. So performance to date matters, but so does projectable upside. Also, we’re not considering prospects who have yet to arrive, so we’ll not be invoking names such as Orlando Arcia, J.P. Crawford, Lucas Giolito, Julio Urias, and the like.
So without further hubbub, your — properly capitalized title forthcoming — 2015 Thanksgiving Roster Made Up Of Players Age 25 Or Younger …
C – Salvador Perez, Royals
1B – Kris Bryant, Cubs
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros
3B – Manny Machado, Orioles
SS – Carlos Correa, Astros
LF – Bryce Harper, Nationals
CF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox
RF – Mike Trout, Angels
DH – Miguel Sano, Twins
Yes, I took some tactical liberties here. Most notably, Kris Bryant gets moved off third base and installed as the first baseman. He spent 6.0 innings at first during his rookie season of 2015, so the concept isn’t an entirely foreign one. Mostly, it keeps his bat in the lineup and affords a defensive upgrade at third base with Machado. Yes, you can muster a perfectly reasonable case that Arenado should be starting ahead of Machado, but the latter’s higher upside gets him the nod.
Elsewhere, Trout gets bumped to a corner in favor of Betts. On the bench, we’ve a pretty devastating lefty-righty power combo of Schwarber and Arenado for high-leverage pinch-hitting. Bogaerts is another useful bat, and Lindor and Kiermaier function as late-inning defenders while also holding their own at the plate.
Painful omissions? Addison Russell, Corey Seager, Christian Yelich, Rougned Odor, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, Ender Inciarte, Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Michael Conforto, and Anthony Rendon, Byron Buxton, and Trea Turner number among them. Others? Sure, man, others.
Imposing rotation, that one. In the bullpen, I like starters who can pitch up in the reduced role with regard to stuff while also providing rotation depth, as indicated by the presences of Rodon and McCullers. Rodon’s presence on the roster is mostly a tandem of his future projection and left-handedness. (That slider of his would be foulest death on same-handed hitters in a relief role.) Obviously, a pared-down, 11-man bullpen allows for a deeper bench, which is certainly the case here.
So there you have it. Also, bear in mind that high-yield 26-year-olds like Madison Bumgarner, Sonny Gray, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo, Eric Hosmer, Freddie Freeman, Giancarlo Stanton, George Springer, and Jeurys Familia just missed qualifying for this list. Others? Sure, man, others.
The takeaway? Regardless of how you’d assemble your own roster of 25 pups, the future of baseball is tantalizingly bright. For that, we baseball fans should be thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.