Baseball’s takeover by young, up-and-coming stars was evident in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, as 20 of the 75 players on the two league rosters were 25 or younger. As ESPN’s Jayson Stark pointed out in a recent column, that is a first in the 85-year history of the game.
This group, of course, includes the Cubs’ own Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.
The youth-infused All-Star game represents a culmination of what has been trending in baseball this season with the numerous top prospects getting called up and earning significant playing time early in their careers. A recent post from FiveThirtyEight shows that younger players are becoming the most valuable.
Not only are these young stars valuable, it turns out they’re generally home-grown.
Thirty-nine of the 75 All-Stars were representing the team that initially acquired them, whether it was in the draft or as an amateur free agent.
This list includes first-round selections such as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Chris Sale, Andrew McCutchen Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner and Michael Wacha, among others. However, the list isn’t limited to first-round selections.
Dellin Betances was an eighth round pick by the Yankees in 2006. Paul Goldschmidt was an eight-rounder in 2009. The Mets selected Jacob deGrom in the ninth round in the 2010 draft. The Dodgers selected Joc Pederson with the 352nd selection in the same draft.
These rosters also featured a handful of amateur free agents who were signed out of Latin America and have stayed with the team that signed them such as Felix Hernandez, Kelvin Herrera, Salvador Perez, Jose Altuve and Carlos Martinez.
It is apparent that the ability to scout, sign, draft, develop and keep young players is more important now than it has ever been.
Also of note is that 24 of the 75 All-Stars were acquired via trade by the team they represented on Tuesday.
This year’s collection features some interesting connections.
Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain, who started at shortstop and right field, respectively, were traded in 2010 for Zack Greinke, who happened to start for the NL on Tuesday. Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo, teammates in the National League dugout, were also in deals involved with one another back in 2010, too. Pittsburgh’s Mark Melancon was traded from Boston in 2012 in a package that netted the Red Sox All-Star utility man Brock Holt.
Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson, Atlanta’s Shelby Miller and the Dodgers’ Yasmani Grandal were players who happened to be traded this past offseason.
Meanwhile, only Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, Toronto’s Russell Martin and Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett were All-Stars who were free agent acquisitions this past offseason. They are three of the 11 of the 75 (or 14.67 percent) All-Stars who represented a team they signed with as a free agent.
Albert Pujols highlights that group, as he made his first All-Star appearance since joining the Angels in 2012. Though, the most notable free agent acquisition-turned-All-Star is Detroit’s J.D. Martinez., who owns a .912 OPS with Detroit since being released by the Astros on March 22, 2014 and signed by the Tigers two days later.
It all goes to show that there are many ways to acquire an All-Star. Some are simply more expensive (whether it is cost in the open market or through trade) than others.
But the younger, home-grown stars definitely took center stage this week.