‘Tis the season to be jolly already in April if you are a baseball fan. There may not be chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but hot dogs, fresh cut grass and the crack of the bat is just as good in the eyes of true baseball fans.
After a long Spring Training, the games now count and the next generation of stars are ready to shine.
Two of the youngest, most prolific stars in baseball could rule the sport this year after giving us a glimpse of how special they could be for years to come. The comparisons of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will live with them until their playing days are over. Both players came up to the big leagues on the same day last year and went on to win Rookie of the Year for their respective league.
Trout had a Hall of Fame type year as a rookie last season. At the age of 20, the Angels outfielder hit .326 with 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases and 129 runs scored. The young star seemed to do it all at the plate and make web gems every night on defense. Will he be another case of a sophomore slump?
When he arrived at Spring Training looking heavy and weighing over 240 pounds, fans and many fantasy owners were concerned about Trout. Looks like Trout knew what he was doing and his .350 batting average in Spring Training quieted the critics. With Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo hitting behind Trout, the Angels could put up outrageous numbers on offense.
Thanks to Trout’s colossal year, Bryce Harper’s year went a little overlooked. Still a teenager at 19 years old, Harper hit .270 with 22 home runs, 18 stolen bases and 98 RBI. Now, with a year under his belt and making a way to the three hole in the lineup, Harper is looking to dominate his competition.
His huge Spring Training quickly converted over to the start of the regular season. After leading all of baseball in Spring Training hitting .478, Harper’s first two at-bats of the 2013 season were home runs against Ricky Nolasco. The blasts made Harper the youngest player in baseball to hit two home runs on their first game of the year in history.
Joining Harper in the NL East is a trio of young outfielders – including a talented family affair –for the Atlanta Braves. Jason Heyward, 23, is now joined by B.J. Upton, 28, and Justin Upton, 25, to roam the outfield for the Braves. The three give Atlanta perhaps the most talented outfield in baseball. All three have plus defense, speed and power. Now fully healthy and surrounded by more talent, Heyward could be a serious MVP contender this season.
Moving from the East to the West, California is full of young talent as well. The reigning NL MVP Buster Posey is just 26 years old and has the accolades of a Hall of Famer. The Giants catcher has already won Rookie of the Year, MVP and two World Series. Posey could soon be the face of the baseball.
Across the bay the Oakland A’s are stacked with young talent, most notably Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes. After dominating the professional ranks in Cuba, Cespedes, 27, put on a show for A’s. If Trout did not dominate in a godly fashion, Cespedes would have been seen as the AL’s best rookie. In his first year in the states, he hit .292 with 23 homers, 82 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
Take a road trip down to Hollywood and the Los Angeles Dodgers have one young star that we may not see in a big league uniform for a little while. The newest Cuban,Yasiel Puig, was compared of Cespedes and the legendary Bo Jackson after dominating Spring Training.
From coast to coast there are young stars ready to shine in baseball. Some have made a name for themselves already, while others will make a name for themselves this year. Baseball is at a great state, with young talent bringing fans the next era of stars.