Baseball, long criticized as a « sport of old people », has been turned upside down in recent seasons by a wave of young, very talented players and, as of yesterday, three « junior » hitters found themselves at the top of the MLB at the homeroom level.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. dominate MLB with 17 homers each at the time of this writing.
It all came to fruition when Tatis hit his 17th Thursday in a Padres game against the Mets.
No doubt, the future is now in MLB.
Tatis, Acuna, Guerrero and the future
Ronald Acuña Jr is 23
Vladimir Guerrero Jr is 22
Fernando Tatis Jr is 22
Reminder that this kind of youth atop a home run leaderboard is practically unprecedented, this late into a season: https: //t.co/nbxdRfdLtc
– Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) June 4, 2021
At 23, in his fourth season, Ronald Acuna is the oldest of the three young stars. Tatis and Guerrero are only 22 years old and this three-way race could crown a circuit champion aged 23 or under and that is quite rare.
How rare? You have to dig a little.
Pete Alonso, in 2019, dominated the National with 53 homers in his rookie season. It was madness for the polar bear. But Alonso was already 24, a more usual age for rookies in MLB.
Tatis, Guerrero and Acuna are not rookies and they are all three younger than Alonso.
We must therefore go back to Bryce Harper in 2015 who finished the season with 42 circuits, tied with Nolan Arenado in the National. At the time, Harper was 22 years old and he also won the MVP award.
Before Harper, we have to dig even deeper. Seven other league-top players were found at the end of the season when they were 22 or younger.
Tony Conigliaro, 1965 Red Sox (20 years, 269 days)
Sam Crawford, 1901 Reds (21 years, 171 days)
Eddie Mathews, 1953 Braves (21 years, 349 days)
Ty Cobb, 1909 Tigers (22 years, 293 days)
Johnny Bench, 1970 Reds (22 years, 298 days)
Joe DiMaggio, 1937 Yankees (22 years, 312 days)
Juan González, 1992 Rangers (22 years, 354 days)
The current three leaders would slip into the Youngest Top-5 at the end of the campaign if the trend continues.
Sometimes, you just have to stop and stare. pic.twitter.com/kOioLonGb9
– MLB (@MLB) May 30, 2021
In addition to leading the American and the National, the three young players bring a style and an attitude to the games and everything quite energizes the MLB, for our greatest pleasure.
Some purists take offense at Tatis’ manners, for example, but we can hardly stand up against the infusion of young talents in a sport that has furnished our summers since childhood.
We even find that very pleasing.
We will be watching this race on the circuits very closely.