A short while ago we took exception when Bill James’ list of the top 25 major leaguers under the age of 30. While both Scott Kazmir (#6) and James Shields (#20) made the list, we were surprised that BJ Upton, Carl Crawford and Delmon Young were all left off the list. Well, it turns out that now the list is 50 names long and all three of the young stud hitters are in the second 25.
Upton just misses the top 25, coming in at #27, while Young (41) and Crawford (43) both fall closer tot he bottom. We still believe that Upton and Crawford should be in the top 25 and one can definitely make a case for Young. Upton may have been penalized for missing a month of the season. Had he gone 30-30 at the age of 22, it is hard to imagine that Upton would not be in the top 25.
As for Crawford, he was most likely penalized for being old. Even though the list is for players “under 30”, there is a strong bias towards players that are in their early 20s who have more years left until age 33. Still, CC is one of the most exciting players in the game today and clearly one of the top offensive threats in baseball regardless of age. And while his power numbers did not develop this past season as we had hoped, once they do, CC may propel himself to the top of everybody’s list.
Young is more of an enigma. Many had hoped for more power and better defense from the 21-year old. We were not surprised by the lack of pop, as he is truly a line-drive hitter. Once he becomes more comfortable at the major league level and if he ever learns to wait for his pitch, we will likely see more elevation from his swing. Still, his arm is as good as anybody. Name another right fielder that can throw out Ichiro trying to advance from first to third on a single. And hitting .290 with 90 ribbies on the Rays at age 21 is pretty darn impressive. A 2008 line of .310-25-110 (not out of the question) and Bill James will be Gettin’ a Delmon if Young is not in the top 25 next season.