Cleat Geeks

Baseball’s Youth Movement Here to Stay

If you watched the Major League Baseball All-Star Game back in July and have followed baseball closely this season you have certainly recognized a common theme – the mold has been broken.

This year’s Mid-Summer Classic in Cincinnati the players on both the American and National League rosters were the youngest they had been in several years. More than 25 percent of the 76 players chosen to participate in the All-Star Game were 25-years of age or younger.mlb-all-star-gameTrout

Having the younger players playing at such an elite level and also in such a stage as the All-Star Game is something baseball had been missing for a long time. Unlike football and basketball there usually was a line drawn as to when a player could be ready to make his debut in the show. For hitters, it was around 1,500 plate appearances. For pitchers, it was so many innings before a clubs would even consider bringing them up to “The Show” to display their God-given talents.

With the average age of a baseball fan, who closely follows the sport, around 53, the sport needed this sudden surge of young production to keep its future intact and get the younger generations to take notice.

Thanks to players such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper the future of baseball is as strong as it has ever been and it’s because of the youth movement. Is it an understatement to say players like Trout and Harper will have saved baseball? Probably. But, the wondering of who was going to replace players such as Derek Jeter as the ambassadors of the game does not need be asked anymore.

While Trout and Harper are becoming the seasoned veterans at their young ages of 22 and 23, others are coming up even quicker than those two and being noticed. Back in April the one player everyone couldn’t wait to see was Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. Then as the All-Star Game approached the Cubs decided to make the move and call up catcher Kyle Schwarber.CubsyoungGuns

While the law of statistics somewhat caught up to Bryant since his being called up in April, Schwarber’s impressive hitting gave Cubs manager Joe Maddon a situation he didn’t expect. He had to decide whether to keep Schwarber in “The Show” or send him down to Triple Iowa once the regular starter, Miguel Montero returned from the disabled list.

Maddon took a hunch and kept Schwarber up with the big league team. The Cubs first round pick from 2014 has not disappointed and has turned himself into a possible Rookie of the Year candidate hitting .323 with eight home runs and 27 RBI while transitioning to left field. The former Indiana University catcher also has an OPS of .400 and an SLG of. 580. Bryant has more than three times the plate appearances of Schwarber hitting at .254 with 16 home runs and 66 RBI. Both look to play prominent roles along with other baby stars in Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell (age 25 or younger) for the Cubs to either catching the National League Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals or securing one of the two wild-card spots in October.

The Cubs aren’t the only ones though benefitting from baseball’s youth movement. Current playoff hopeful teams such as the Houston Astros and New York Mets are also hoping the young talent on their rosters will parlay into a successful October.

Second baseman Jose Altuve, right fielder George Springer, and pitcher Dallas Kuechel have the Astros ahead of schedule by two years. To solidify its October chances Houston went out and grabbed Scott Kazmir from Oakland to shore up the rotation for the post season.

degromAllStarThe Mets have a rotation of young pitchers, who continue to befuddle opponents on a nightly basis. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have been the catalyst of the rotation, which currently has the Mets leading Harper’s Washington Nationals by four games in the National League East.

How good is and can this rotation be for the Mets – in a Yahoo.com sports article recent Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, John Smoltz, said it is already better than the rotation he was a part of in Atlanta with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Let that sink in for a moment.

The great thing about seeing all this early development of players coming up ahead of expectations is they are confident enough to play the game the right way. Most of all they are convinced by not only themselves but the front offices and their managers to lead their teams to October success.

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