MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Baseball has very bright, very young future

Under-30 superstars are making important strides all over the Majors

Baseball has very bright, very young future

DENVER -- Baseball has a problem. Derek Jeter, the face of the game, retired at the end of last season. There has been no one step up and fill the spot.

Baseball, however, has a plethora of candidates. It is a good problem for the game.

For all the teeth-gnashing over the game's aging fan base, the game is undergoing one of the most impactful transitions on the field that it has ever seen. Youth is being served, and the fans are being treated to excitement across the country over the game's budding superstars.

The 2015 All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile will be played Tuesday night in Cincinnati. With the addition of Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez, who is 23, and Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, who is 26, on Friday in the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, there are 38 All-Stars who are 27 or younger, and 31 first-time All-Stars.

All but 14 of the All-Stars have been selected four or fewer times.

Oh, there are veteran names on the roster: Albert Pujols of the Angels and Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, both of whom were selected for the 10th time. Cards catcher Yadier Molina and outfielder Matt Holliday are next in line with their seventh selections.

Cabrera and Holliday, both of whom are on the disabled list, are the only five-time (or more) All-Stars to be voted into the starting lineup by fans.

It's part of an overhaul of the game, where the new kids on the block are taking over. And it is a blessing for baseball.

OK, there's not that single national icon right now, who is to baseball like LeBron is to basketball.

There are, however, a couple dozen young impact players scattered across the country, developing regional allegiances that eventually could have a national flare. But does it really matter if they go national?

Baseball, after all, is a game built of its strong regional ties, which is apparent by the expanding regional television revenues the game is enjoying, and by the stadiums that fill up on a regular basis over the years in smaller major markets. And right now, they are being treated to budding superstars most every night.

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw didn't make the All-Star team this year, but it's impossible to overlook the fact that he's only 27 and has not only won the National League Cy Young Award three times, but also the NL MVP Award last year. And while Kershaw was claiming that NL MVP Award, 23-year-old Angels center fielder Mike Trout snagged it in the American League.

Six members of the AL and NL starting lineups are younger than 30. And the starting pitchers haven't been selected yet. AL candidates include Dallas Keuchel, 27; Chris Sale, 26; and Sonny Gray, 25. The NL? What about Madison Bumgarner, 25; Jacob deGrom, 27; or Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha and Gerrit Cole, each of whom is 24?

Wacha fans Bryant

Bryce Harper was an All-Star in his first two big league seasons before being limited by injuries a year ago. He has taken the step to stardom this year, at the age of 22, as the youngest All-Star, born 102 days before Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, a two-time All-Star himself. The Orioles only have one lineup regular on the back side of 30 -- 32-year-old shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Third baseman Martin Prado, 31, currently on the disabled list, is the only Marlins everyday regular older than 27, and Dan Haren, 34, is the only Miami starting pitcher who has celebrated his 30th birthday.

The Braves don't have a pitcher 25 or older in their rotation. The Rays don't have a starting pitcher older than 27. Bartolo Colon is 42, but deGrom, 27, is the Mets' second-oldest starting pitcher.

deGrom's dominating start

Get the picture? There's not a lot of gray in the hair of players on big league rosters right now.

There's not that signature position player in the Big Apple on center stage, but there is Trout in Anaheim and Joc Pederson, Kershaw and Yasiel Puig in Los Angeles. Bumgarner and Joe Panik are in the City by the Bay and Paul Goldschmidt is in Phoenix. Nolan Arenado is in Denver, and Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer are in Kansas City. Sale's on the South Side and Kris Bryant the North in the Windy City, and Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez are opening eyes in Maimi. There's Machado in Baltimore and Harper in Washington.

Houston has Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Keuchel, and Pittsburgh is treated to Cole, while Oakland fans marvel at Gray, with Martinez and Wacha opening eyes in St. Louis. And the Big Apple is not forgotten, with Dellin Betances in the Bronx and with Citi Field home to the strong arms of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey.

Keuchel earns AL-best 11th win

There are so many faces in so many places, it can't do anything but help the game.

The late Roy Campanella, who is enshrined in the Hall of Fame, once said, "You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too."

Baseball has become a young man's sport, which makes its future promising.

Tracy Ringolsby is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.