Ever since MLB took steroids out of the game, baseball has slowly but surely become a young man’s game once again. Veteran players no longer get the artificial boost provided by performance-enhancing drugs, and so their production drops off earlier, creating the need for younger players.
At the same time, the new generation of players is crazy talented and ready to play in the big leagues at a young age. It’s gotten to the point where some of the youngest players in the majors are among the best players.
To illustrate how much young talent is in the game right now, let’s share our ranking of the top-25 players under the age of 25 during the 2021 MLB season.
25. Mike Soroka, Braves
Mike Soroka dropped because of the brutal Achilles injury he suffered in 2020 that could also keep him out for all of 2021. But if he can get back to full health, he’s likely to be the ace of Atlanta’s rotation for many years.
24. Victor Robles, Nationals
Victor Robles hasn’t quite delivered on the promise he showed during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. However, he’s still a great athlete and a fine defensive center fielder who has plenty of time for his offense to come back around.
23. Jesus Luzardo, Athletics
Born in Peru, Jesus Luzardo is yet to fulfill his tremendous promise. However, he’s flashed enough elite stuff to make us think that he’s going to be something special one day.
22. Alec Bohm, Phillies
As the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Phillies have high hopes for Alec Bohm. After hitting .338 with an OPS of .881 during the shortened 2020 season, it should be clear to the rest of baseball that he has a promising future as a guy who can hit and field his position.
21. Sixto Sanchez, Marlins
After making just seven starts for the Marlins last year, most of baseball is sold on Sixto Sanchez being one of the best pitchers of the next decade. Shoulder trouble has delayed the start of his 2021 season, but at 22, Sanchez still has a world of potential.
20. Dustin May, Dodgers
Getting shut down for Tommy John surgery surely hurts Dustin May’s stock. But he was electric in 2020 and should come back healthy and return to being a frontline starter for the Dodgers.
19. Trent Grisham, Padres
Trent Grisham started to break out in 2020 but has really come alive in 2021.
In a sea of big-money free agents and rising superstar Fernando Tatis, Grisham has been a little lost in the shuffle. However, the former first-round pick is a big part of San Diego’s future.
18. Gleyber Torres, Yankees
A couple of years ago, Gleyber Torres would have been at the top of a list like this. However, his production has fallen hard and fast over the past two years. Still, he’s just 24 and hit 38 home runs in 2019, so all hope is not lost for him, even if expectations need to be a little tempered moving forward.
17. Austin Riley, Braves
In his third season in the majors, Austin Riley is finally coming out of his shell. He still isn’t getting as much attention as he should because he has a few teammates who are bonafide stars. But Riley is starting to play like someone who will make a few All-Star teams before all is said and done.
16. Dylan Carlson, Cardinals
After struggling in 2020, Dylan Carlson is coming on in a big way this year. He won’t even turn 23 until October, so the best is likely yet to come despite a true breakout campaign in 2021.
15. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates
In just 24 games in 2020, Ke'Bryan Hayes hit .376 with an OPS of 1.124. Granted, that’s a small sample size, but if it’s any indication of what’s to come, Hayes could be one of the best sluggers in baseball for the next decade once he returns from the injury that sidelined him early in the 2021 season.
14. Trevor Rogers, Marlins
The 13th-overall selection in the 2017 draft is starting to live up to the hype in a big way in 2021. Rogers has pitched at a Cy Young level for the first two months of the 2021 season, and he’s still just 23.
13. Ozzie Albies, Braves
Now in his fifth big-league season, it’s hard to believe that Ozzie Albies is still only 24. He’s probably one of the most accomplished players on our list with a pair of 24-home-run seasons.
Albies may not be a superstar, but he’ll be a consistent force in Atlanta’s lineup for a long time to come.
12. Kyle Tucker, Astros
After being picked fifth overall in the 2015 draft, all Kyle Tucker needed was an opportunity in Houston’s stacked lineup. He’s gotten that opportunity over the past couple of years and is starting to make the most of it by showcasing his incredible power.
11. Ian Anderson, Braves
Ian Anderson led Atlanta’s charge to the NLCS in 2020 and has picked up where he left off this year. On such a talented staff, he’s assumed the role of Atlanta’s ace and could eventually form a scary tandem with Soroka.
10. Yordan Alvarez, Astros
Yordan Alvarez has insane amounts of power but is still hitting over .300 in his first 500 at-bats in the majors. He loses a little value because he’s probably going to be a DH for most of his career. But he looks like he’s going to put up the kind of numbers that warrant being a DH for a long time to come.
9. Luis Robert, White Sox
The Cuban defector was starting to take a big step forward early in 2021 before getting sidelined by an injury. But there’s no doubt that his upside is massive. Still just 23, Luis Robert has a lot of good years for the White Sox.
8. Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
The son of a major leaguer, Bo Bichette hit over .300 in limited action over his first two seasons in the majors and is now having a breakout campaign in 2021.
He could be a 30-homers-a-year type player for a long time and isn’t even close to his prime at age 23.
7. Eloy Jimenez, White Sox
It’s a shame that Eloy Jimenez got hurt before the 2021 season because he was outstanding during his first two seasons in the majors.
At 24, he owns a career batting average of .276 with an OPS of .848, and yet the best may be yet to come.
6. Julio Urias, Dodgers
It’s crazy to think that Julio Urias made his debut in the majors five years ago and is still under 25. More importantly, he’s put some injury woes behind him and is finally coming into his own.
While he’s overshadowed in the Los Angeles rotation by Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, he’s absolutely a frontline starter.
5. Rafael Devers, Red Sox
Rafael Devers is another player who is shockingly under the age of 25. He first came up in the summer of 2017 and had a true breakout campaign in 2019. While 2020 was a weird year for him, Devers is back on track in 2021 and looks like one of the elite offensive players in the game, on pace for 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs this year.
4. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
How in the world is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just 22 years old? He is quickly closing in on 1,000 at-bats in the big leagues and is hitting well over .300 with an OPS over 1.000 this season. He’s somehow ahead of where his Hall of Fame father was at 22 and could still continue to improve in the years ahead.
3. Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
This is where it gets tough to separate the best of the best.
Still just 23, Ronald Acuna Jr. hit 41 home runs during the 2019 season at the age of 21. He’s a quality defensive player with a career OPS of around .920. We had to rank him third, but he could have just as easily have been 1C.
2. Juan Soto, Nationals
Juan Soto barely ranks ahead of Acuna because he’s a year younger and equally accomplished. He has a better career batting average and OPS than Acuna in more or less the same number of at-bats.
It helps that Soto has a World Series ring and a batting title (albeit in the shortened 2020 season) to his name, even if Acuna is the better athlete who beat out Soto for Rookie of the Year honors in 2018.
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
All things considered, Fernando Tatis Jr. is a better all-around player than Soto and Acuna, although it’s incredibly close.
While he hasn’t been in the majors as long, Tatis is a little younger than both and has more upside. The biggest thing that works in Tatis’ favor is that he plays a premium defensive position and plays it well. He also has a better career slugging percentage and OPS than both Acuna and Soto and is arguably the best pure athlete of the three.
Any team in baseball would give up anything for one of the trio of players, but right now, Tatis is the best player in the majors under the age of 25.
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