MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Harper, Trout among young talent in peak form

Harper, Trout among young talent in peak form

Outfielders Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Mike Trout of the Angels have become the face of baseball's youth movement.

They do, however, have plenty of company. Baseball, arguably, has as many young stars today as it has ever had.

The numbers are there. Eighteen percent of the players on active rosters during the weekend were 25 or younger, including 54 everyday position players, and 25 starting pitchers.

And they are having an impact. Harper, as an example, was the National League Most Valuable Player Award winner in 2015, and Trout was the AL MVP Award winner in '14.

Trout honors Kobe, goes 3-for-5

Baseball could well be experiencing The Era of the Shortstop given the presence of 10 everyday shortstops who are 25 or younger, beginning with 2015 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner Carlos Correa of the Astros, who is only 21, and Francisco Lindor, the Indians' 22-year-old shortstop who finished second to Correa. The two players received all 30 first-place votes and had a combined 233 voting points. The five other players who received votes combined for just 37 points.

And this is the dawning of an era of strong arms, given the impact starting pitchers such as Noah Syndergaard of the Mets and Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, both 23, and Cardinals right-handers Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha, 24. Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays and Yordano Ventura of the Royals are also just 24, while Gerrit Cole of the Pirates, Kendall Graveman of the A's and Julio Teheran of the Braves are 25.

Let's examine an All-Star lineup of players who are 25 or younger:

Starting pitcher: Cole, 25, Pirates
Cole has been a part of the Pirates' rotation each of the past three years, playing a role in the Bucs ending what had been 21-year stretch in which the franchise didn't post a winning record, much less advance to the postseason. He tied for second in the NL with 19 wins, and he ranked fifth with a 2.60 ERA last season.

Cole pitches six solid frames

Closer: Roberto Osuna, 21, Blue Jays
Osuna stepped into the closer's role in late June, and converted 20 off 22 saves from June 22 until season's end, filling a key void for the eventual AL East champions last year. He compiled a 2.58 ERA, allowing a .191 batting average.

Right fielder: Harper, 23, Nationals
The resume says it all. He was the NL MVP Award winner in 2015, the NL Rookie of the Year Award winner in '12 and an All-Star in three of his four big league seasons. He hit 42 home runs last season, matching Nolan Arenado of the Rockies for the NL title, and he led the NL with a .460 on-base percentage, a .649 slugging percentage and a 1.109 OPS.

Center fielder: Trout, 24, Angels
Trout was the AL MVP Award winner in 2014, and he has finished second in the voting in his three other big league seasons. He is a four-time All-Star and the All-Star Game MVP the past two seasons. He has won four AL Silver Slugger Awards, and he has led the AL position players in WAR in all four of his big league seasons.

Left fielder: Christian Yelich, Marlins
An NL Gold Glove Award winner in 2014, Yelich had a combined .290 average in his first three Major League seasons, and he opened this season hitting .400 in his first nine games. He had the top zone rating among NL left fielders each of the past two seasons.

Yelich's two-run single

Third base: Arenado, Rockies, 25
In three seasons, Arenado has won three NL Gold Glove Awards, and he added an NL Silver Slugger honor in 2015. He was an All-Star last season when he shared the NL home run title with Harper. Arenado hit 22 of his 42 home runs on the road, and he led the Majors with 130 RBIs.

Shortstop: Correa, 21, Astros
The fourth-youngest player in the Majors this year, Correa didn't get to the big leagues until June 8 of last season, but the No. 1 player selected in the 2012 MLB Draft made his presence felt, and he won the AL Rookie of the Year Award despite his limited time in the bigs. He stepped right into the No. 3 spot in the Astros' lineup, and in 99 games, he hit 22 home runs, drove in 68 runs and committed only 13 errors.

Correa's moonshot

Second baseman: Joe Panik, Giants, 25
The latest of a group of Giants players who didn't get a lot of fanfare in the development process, Panik stepped in at the Major League level and established himself quickly as a key part of an infield that includes shortstop Brandon Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt, who like Panik, arrived in the big leagues without a lot of national attention. An All-Star a year ago in his first full season in the Majors, Panik entered Monday hitting .306 in his 186 games.

First baseman: Tyler White, 25, Astros
White and Wil Myers, 25, who moved from the outfield to first base with the Padres this year, are the two everyday first basemen in the 25-and-under group. White was the AL Player of the Week in the Opening Week of the season. A 33rd round Draft choice in 2013, White had a .357 average, four home runs and 11 RBIs to show for first 13 big league games.

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, 25, Marlins
There are only five everyday catchers 25 or younger. Realmuto is in his second season as the main receiver for the Marlins, which gives him the edge.

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