MLB: Starting Lineup for the National League All Under-25 Team

Major League Baseball has never been great at marketing its young talent, but there are many talented players under the age of 25 currently playing in the big leagues. Because of the way salaries work in the sport, many of these athletes are even the most underpaid MLB players. If the National League compiled a lineup based on the best players age 25 and younger, here is what it would look like.

1B: Wil Myers

MLB: Starting Lineup for the National League All Under-25 Team

Wil Myers of the San Diego Padres walks back to the dugout after striking out | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers has moved around a bit in his career, first starting with the Kansas City Royals and building his brand as a big-time prospect. He was traded in the James Shields deal to the Tampa Bay Rays, where he spent the first two years of his career. They sent him to San Diego, where he’s finally breaking out. This season, Myers has a .819 OPS with 23 home runs and 22 stolen bases for the Padres. He’s posted a 2.8 WAR in 121 games played.

Other candidates: Josh Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates

C: Willson Contreras

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 19: Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a two run home run on the first pitch of his MLB debut during the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on June 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Willson Contreras celebrates after hitting a two run home run on the first pitch of his MLB debut | Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was the best catching prospect in the minor leagues heading into the season, and he absolutely tore it up at Triple-A. In 240 plate appearances, Contreras hit .353/.442/.593 with nine home runs. The Cubs called him up to the big leagues, where he’s slowly taken over the starting role at catcher from Miguel Montero. The 24-year-old is hitting for a .780 OPS with seven homers in 205 plate appearances so far, and has a 0.9 WAR, which makes him about a three-win player over a full season. Not bad for a rookie.

Other candidates: J.T. Realmuto of the Miami Marlins

2B: Joe Panik

MLB: Starting Lineup for the National League All Under-25 Team

Joe Panik of the San Francisco Giants watches it soar | Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik is the best of the under-25 crowd at his position, even though he’s having a bad year. In 719 plate appearances heading into this season, he had been hitting .309/.364/.419 with 4.4 WAR. He’s only hitting .246/.321/.380 with 1.0 WAR in 2016, but there really isn’t a ton of competition in this regard. Javier Baez of the Cubs is a candidate, but he is more of a utility player who moves around the field, and Kolten Wong of the Cardinals would’ve been considered if he weren’t having a bad season, too.

Other candidates: Baez, Wong, and Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals

SS: Corey Seager

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after striking out to end the third inning against the Chicago Cubs in game five of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Corey Seager reacts after striking out | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is a lock for winning the National League Rookie of the Year award this season. Just 22 years old, Seager is hitting .321/.375/.540 with 22 home runs and 5.2 WAR. He’s breathed new life into the Dodgers, who have an aging and expensive roster otherwise. Not only does Seager make this roster, he’s one of the absolute gems of the lineup. The NL is pretty stacked at shortstop, but making the decision to pick Seager is a no-brainer.

Other candidates: Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs, Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies, Aledmys Diaz of the St. Louis Cardinals

3B: Kris Bryant

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after winning 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Kris Bryant after the Cubs won Game Seven of the 2016 World Series | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Just like Seager, Kris Bryant is an easy pick. One of the leading National League MVP candidates, Bryant has been an absolute stud for the Cubs this year — and really ever since coming up to the big leagues. He has 32 home runs, which leads the National League, to go along with 84 RBI. He’s batting .299/.390/.568 this year and has compiled 12 WAR already in his career. If he does take home the MVP award, he’ll have received a major award in four consecutive years. (His loot includes College Player of the Year, Minor League Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year.)

Other candidates: Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies

OF: Christian Yelich

MLB: Starting Lineup for the National League All Under-25 Team

Christian Yelich makes a run for it | Elsa/Getty Images

Miami Marlins’ outfielder Christian Yelich makes the list as a 24-year-old who has been in the big leagues for four seasons. In his career in the big leagues, he owns a slash line of .296/.370/.429 and a total of 12.9 WAR. Those numbers are even better this year, as he’s finally found his power stroke. Yelich has clubbed 15 homers for the Marlins in 503 plate appearances after hitting just seven last season in 525 plate appearances. His 4.4 WAR in 2016 is a career high, which makes him really worthy of being on this list.

Other candidates: Stephen Piscotty of the St. Louis Cardinals

OF: Gregory Polanco

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 27: Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes a catch on a ball hit by Miguel Montero #47 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the seventh inning on September 27, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Gregory Polanco makes a catch | Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco is having a breakout season, bringing out the power in his bat with 17 home runs through 109 games played to date. He’s raised all of his averages on the slash line, including taking his slugging percentage from .381 in 2015 to .485 this season. He’s been worth 2.2 WAR so far this year, which places him well on pace to set a new career high. At just 24 years old, Polanco is one of the premier outfielders in the game.

Other candidates: Marcell Ozuna of the Miami Marlins

OF: Bryce Harper

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 13: National Leauge All-Star Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals laughs during the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders at the Great American Ball Park on July 13, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

National Leauge All-Star Bryce Harper laughs during the Gillette Home Run Derby | Rob Carr/Getty Images

Can you believe that Bryce Harper is still only 23 years old? Harper was called up by the Washington Nationals back in 2012 at just 19 years old, breaking out last year with 42 homers and a 1.109 OPS. He’s had a bit of a down season this year, as opponents have been reluctant to pitch to him without much protection in the lineup. He’s still put up a .385 OBP and a .840 OPS, which are great numbers, as well as a 2.0 WAR. The talent, mixed in with the decent results from 2016, put Harper on our under-25 roster.

Other candidates: Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers

SP: Noah Syndergaard

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10: Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets reacts after recording the final out of the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Noah Syndergaard reacts after recording the final out of the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard is the starting pitcher on our under-25 roster, taking his hard fastball and wicked slider to the mound with him. In 148 innings this season, Syndergaard has a 2.61 ERA, but also leads the league with a 2.23 FIP and 5.53 K/BB. He’s pitched his team to the World Series in his rookie season, and at just 23 years old Syndergaard is one of the best young pitchers in the game.

Other candidates:  Carlos Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals

Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanDavisBP

Statistics courtesy of ESPN and Baseball-Reference.

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