In white-hot anticipation of the upcoming All-Star Game at Citi Field, we've been rolling out various and sundry All-Star teams this week (the division-by-division All-Stars, for instance). Now it's time to focus on the kids and their baggy pants and their rock 'n' roll music.
Specially, we're going to name -- in authoritative, Judge Lance Ito-fashion -- the "All-25-and-Under" team. As the name implies, this team will be composed of players who are, at this writing, age 25 or younger. That is to say, they are necessarily both apple-cheeked and good at baseball. Also, we're talking about players presently established in the majors, so no prospects allowed.
And now for the grand unveiling! If you disagree with any choices, please keep it to yourself. After all, this is the Internet, and space is limited ...
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Royals
Perez is regarded as a skilled defensive catcher, and he's a career .304/.330/.446. Feel free to think of him as "Yadier Molina Light." Already.
First base: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
In large part because he's hitting same-side pitching this season, Goldschmidt is enjoying an outstanding 2013. It was all of July 6 when he set a career high in homers. While I'm not big on RBI as a stat of any meaning, Goldschmidt does pace the NL in that particular category.
Second base: Jose Altuve, Astros
This isn't a terribly deep position for the 25-and-under set, but Altuve is the default choice. The 5-foot-5 keystone is batting just .284/.320/.358, but he's a decent defender and a reliable threat on the bases. A case can be made for Nick Franklin of the Mariners, but he has just 40 games at the highest level to his credit.
Third base: Manny Machado, Orioles
He's a super-elite defender at the hot corner, and he's on pace for exactly 1,200 doubles. He's also just 21 years of age.
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Tough, tough call here. Jean Segura of the Brewers seems the obvious choice, but he's been steadily regressing with the bat over the last several weeks. As well, Andrus is a significantly better defender than Segura. Andrus isn't hitting this season, which is what makes this a more difficult decision. Andrelton Simmons of the Braves also merits a mention for his excellent glove-work.
Left field: Bryce Harper, Nationals
Perhaps you've heard sketchy Internet rumor of him? Harper's batting .274/.376/.538 in this, his age-20 season.
Center field: Mike Trout, Angels
At present, Trout finds himself on pace for 27 homers, 52 doubles, 11 triples and 38 stolen bases. He's the most complete player in the game today.
Right field: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
No, Stanton's not quite up to his usual standards this season, and his proneness to injury is an ongoing concern. But the more relevant reality is he has 101 career homers to his credit, and he doesn't turn 24 until November.
Designated hitter: Domonic Brown, Phillies
The 25-year-old Brown has finally been given a legitimate opportunity in Philly. The results? At present, Brown ranks second in the NL in homers, third in total bases and fifth in SLG and extra-base hits.
Right-handed starter: Matt Harvey, Mets
This season, Harvey, author of one of the best sliders around, has pitched to a 2.35 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 5.25 K/BB ratio. He also leads the NL in strikeouts. Expect him to be the NL starter in the All-Star Game.
Left-handed starter: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
You are not permitted to disagree with this choice for even a sliver of an instant. What's ahead for Kershaw? Quite possibly a second NL Cy Young award. What's after that? Quite possibly a $200 million contract.
Setup man: Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals
Rosenthal's fastball averages 96.4 miles per hour, and, according to Pitchf/x, he throws that fastball 87.6 percent of the time. The results? A 1.88 ERA across 43 innings and 64 strikeouts against just nine walks.
Closer: Craig Kimbrel, Braves
For his career, the 25-year-old shutdown reliever has struck out 43.9 percent of opposing hitters. It's tough choice between him and Aroldis Chapman, but it's impossible to ignore Kimbrel's career ERA of 1.49.
My colleague Matt Snyder has undertaken the more onerous task of assembling the "All-35-and-Older" team, and let's just say the kids wound probably disrespect their elders in a big way if these two clubs faced off. Take a look at the possible lineups ...
Marco Scutaro, 2B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Alfonso Soriano, LF
David Ortiz, DH
Raul Ibanez, RF
Michael Young, 3B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Miguel Tejada, SS
SP: Bartolo Colon
I don't think this match-up would end too well for the elder statesmen.