This year, MLB has opted to focus on an ad campaign that highlights “the kids”, in yet another marketing attempt at a younger generation. And they’re not wrong to do so. There are some very exciting young players in the game right now making it a lot of fun to watch.
These youngsters are already making waves in the playoffs. You might have seen the postseason commercial in which current players are juxtaposed against old black and white baseball footage to highlight a generational difference in the sport.
While “the kids” as an ad campaign might rub some fans the wrong way, baseball’s youth movement is here and they are busting down the door for your attention. Let’s meet six of the most exciting young (25 and under) offensive players in this year’s playoffs
Gavin Lux, 2B
Age: 21 - Los Angeles Dodgers
Though he’s a bit greener than the others on this list, getting the call at the beginning of September, Lux racked up 12 runs, 18 hits and 9 RBI in just 23 games this fall and already has a moment to remember in the National League Division Series, after a pinch-hit home run against Hunter Strickland in Thursday night’s game. One of two that Strickland allowed, which means that either Lux or Joc Pederson can expect retaliation at some point in 2022.
Cheap shots aside, it was an incredible feeling for the young rookie to get a home run in his first postseason appearance, noting after the game: “It was a very surreal moment. Honestly, it’s kind of what every kid dreams of.”
Gleyber Torres, SS
Age: 22 - New York Yankees
2019 Stats: 546 AB, .278 BA, 38 HR, 90 RBI .871 OPS
In just his second season, Torres has already accumulated a bWAR of 6.8, and it’s not hard to see why when you look at his numbers. Originally signed by the Chicago Cubs as an amateur free agent in 2013, Torres was acquired by the Yankees in the 2016 trade for Aroldis Chapman, and I think it’s safe to say that the Yankees won that trade in the long run.
Despite his impressive 2019 season overall, there are concerns about his slump down the stretch in September, causing fans to wonder which version of him will show up in the playoffs. Hopefully the days off this week have helped rest him up for tonight’s ALDS opener against the Minnesota Twins.
Austin Meadows, RF
Age: 24 - Tampa Bay Rays
2019 Stats: 530 AB, .291 BA, 33 HR, 89 RBI, .922 OPS
Meadows was drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but was sent to Tampa Bay in the Chris Archer trade in 2018. Down the stretch in September, Meadows was named September’s American League Player of the Month, as he hit .378/.472/.744 with nine home runs in the month, helping send his team to the wild card game.
While that performance was not reflected in his first playoff game on Wednesday night, where he went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strike outs, he’s got at least three games to get it going against the Houston Astros in the division series. While the Rays may be serious underdogs in the series, it’s hopeful that he will at least have a moment to shine before it’s all said and done.
Alex Bregman, 3B
Age: 25 - Houston Astros
2019 Stats: 554 AB, .296 BA, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 1.015 OPS
What can you say about a 25-year-old player in their fourth season who leads one of the best teams in recent memory in most offensive categories? Well our friends over at Crawfish Boxes recently made the case for him to be this year’s American League MVP and credit him as the glue that held the team together during an injury-plagued season on their way to 107 wins, so they might just have a point.
Bregman should be an exciting part of an offense that is likely to steamroll its competitors, and it should be fun to watch*.
*Competitors’ fans excluded
Ronald Acuna, Jr., LF
Age: 21 - Atlanta Braves
2019 Stats: 626 AB, .280 BA, 41 HR, 101 RBI, 37 SB, .883 OPS
What can’t Acuna do? In his sophomore season with the Braves, he has been a workhorse, playing the most games of anyone on the team. And while he doesn’t lead the team on offense, he makes up an important part of an offensive core that helped propel the team to 97 wins and a division win. (Honorable mention also goes to Ozzie Albies, 22, who didn’t make this list, but has also been incredibly fun to watch.)
Although Atlanta lost the first game of the NLDS on Thursday night (thanks, again, to another former-Giants relief pitcher. Condolences.) Acuna went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and a walk. So he gets a pass on the base-running complaints from the seventh inning, in my book.
Juan Soto, LF - 20
Age: 20 - Washington Nationals
2019 Stats: 542 AB, .250 BA, 34 HR, 110 RBO, 12 SB, .949 OPS
At just 20 years old and in his second season, Soto has already had a career-defining moment: knocking in the winning runs of the National League wild card game. With the way things are looking against the Dodgers, that might have to tide him over, but it can’t be discounted what a huge moment that was for Soto and the entire Nationals organization and fan base.