MLB: The 5 Best Players Under 25 Years Old
The MLB has become a league driven by young talent across the board. Some of these players are even widely considered to be among the best in the majors despite their youth. These have already become the face of their respective franchises and centerpieces of the team due to their talent that has put a bright future ahead. It’s extremely difficult to find young superstar talent in the majors, but here are the top five players in the league under 25 years old.
5. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
The Houston Astros in the 2015 season were one of the few surprise teams to make it the playoff. A major reason for their large amount of success was the emergence of prized shortstop Carlos Correa. The 21-year-old put together a stellar season after being called up in early June by posting phenomenal numbers in just 99 games played, batting .279 with 22 home runs and 68 RBIs that helped earn the AL Rookie of the Year award.
Correa led all shortstops and AL rookies in home runs while holding a 4.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). He also set the Astros’ rookie record for home runs and broke the franchise’s mark for most home runs by a shortstop in a single season. He was a spark plug defensively, making highlight-worthy plays with his glove. What’s most impressive is that fact that he immediately stepped into the No. 3 spot in the batting order and produced like a legitimate run producer hitting .269 with 17 home runs, and 57 RBIs. It was a remarkable feat for a rookie making the seamless transition to batting in arguably the most important spot in the lineup.
If he had played the entire 2015 season, there’s no question that Correa would have easily topped 30 home runs with near or above 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored. In short, the Astros former No.1 pick of the 2011 MLB draft has a very promising career ahead of him and is certainly one of the rising stars in the league.
4. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies All-Star third baseman is one of the league’s most talented young players who’s under the radar from a nationwide perspective. Arenado put together a career-best campaign in the 2015 season with career highs in several categories finishing tied for an NL-best 42 home runs with a major-league leading 130 RBIs while tying a career-best .287 batting average. He also lead the MLB with 89 extra-base hits and 354 total bases and was tied for second in the NL with 43 doubles.
Arenado isn’t just a tantalizing offensive player, but he’s also an outstanding fielder at his position becoming the first NL third baseman to earn a Gold Glove award in each of his first three seasons in the majors. He also brought home his first Silver Slugger award, and All-Star game selection. Prior to his sudden offensive burst in 2015, the Rockies third baseman was quietly becoming the top defensive player at the hot corner grabbing two consecutive Gold Gloves.
His play through his first three seasons along with the departure of Troy Tulowitzki have made him the unquestioned face of the franchise. He’s one of the most complete players in the majors and could shortly be in the conversation for one of the best players in the league.
3. Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins
Since his arrival in the majors in the 2013 season, Fernandez has been one of the most exciting pitchers in the league whenever he takes the mound. He burst onto the season as just a 19-year-old and set the league afire posting a 12-6 record with a second-lowest ERA in the league at 2.19, 187 strikeouts, a 0.98 WHIP, and a 6.5 WAR ( Wins Above Replacement). His ERA in his rookie campaign is inside the top 10 in MLB history for pitchers under the age of 21, and he is only the fourth pitcher to accomplish that feat in the past century. This all made him the simple choice for NL Rookie of the Year, and he even finished third in the NL Cy Young award voting.
His 2014 season was cut short due to Tommy John surgery, but Fernandez returned in 2015 looking like the pitcher he was prior to the injury posting a 6-1 record with a 2.91 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 64.2 innings pitched in 11 starts. There may be some concern with his long-term future given that he underwent major surgery at such a young age, but for the time being Fernandez is pitching like one of the top pitchers in the game. He’s an electrifying player with a bright future ahead of him that may include several Cy Young awards and All-Star game appearances.
2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Heading into the 2015 season, there was an ever-building chatter that the Washington Nationals outfielder was an extremely overhyped player. However, he silenced the doubters with in his fourth year in the league putting together a breakout year that helped him capture his NL MVP award by batting .330 with an NL-best 42 home runs, a career-high 99 RBIs, and a major-leading 9.9 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). He also led the National league in runs scored (118), slugging percentage (.649), on-base percentage (.460), OPS (1.109), and runs created (161).
Harper prior to 2015 had struggled to string together a full season that could match the constant praise that he’s one of the game’s best talents when he hadn’t hit more than 22 home runs or driven in more 58 runs in a single year. What this past season did more than anything else is showcase his all-around offensive game that makes him one of the most feared and productive hitters in the league. Along with his offensive talent, Harper is also an above-average fielder at his position.
The 2015 season could be just the launching point for what could be an extremely productive career for the Nationals’ star outfielder.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
When the conversation begins to discuss the best players in the league regardless of age and position, the Los Angeles Angels star outfielder is the unanimous choice across the board. Trout has already added numerous accolades to his mantel in his first four years in the majors — earning four Silver Sluggers awards, four All-Star game nods, two All-Star game MVPs, AL Rookie of the Year, the Hank Aaron award, and an AL MVP. He’s also the youngest player in MLB history to reach 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases, and holds the highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for any player in MLB history through his age-23 season.
Trout is coming off another impressive season hitting a career-high 41 home runs, which made him just the second player in Angels history to hit over 40 home runs in a single season. His fourth straight Silver Slugger award made him just the second player behind Hall of Famer Mike Piazza in MLB history to accomplish that mark. Although he finished second in the AL MVP voting Toronto Blue Jays All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson, it marked the third time he finished second for the award in his first four seasons in the majors.
It’s clear that Trout is a once in a generation player who has the career trajectory to go down as one of the greatest players in the game that could rival the player he’s been most compared to in New York Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. He’s an extremely special player who has all the physical tools along with the mental makeup to remain the league’s best player for the foreseeable future. What’s crazy about all of this is that’s still years away from entering the prime of career, which could mean the best is yet to come. That’s a mind-blowing thought in itself.