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Gag me with a spoon. Instead of newspeak, 1984 showed us valley girls and Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan and an Apple Computer. 1984 didn’t exactly go how Orwell predicted, did it? Big brother wasn’t watching from the telescreen. Newspeak wasn’t the language spoken. Oceania doesn’t exist. Censorship was nowhere near the extremeness read about in the book. The totalitarian government didn’t exactly take over the world…For those of us sports fans who haven’t read a book since 1984, we are on a sports website after all so I won’t bore you with talk about “b-o-o-k-s.”
1984, however, did bring lots to the world. A surprisingly-not-so-complex-compared-what-we-have-now Apple Computer went on sale. A young phenom by the name of Michael Jordan made his NBA debut. A skinny red headed Mark McGwire entered the MLB. The Cold War was still a threat. Gas prices were a shocking $1.11 a gallon. The second Indiana Jones movie was still a baby and first seen in 1984, and people only paid $2.50 to see it. People would rush home to watch the scandalously exciting “Dynasty” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was the number one song heard on all of the radio stations and all over MTV (which, as I’ve learned in my research today, actually played…Music?)
All these are fun facts and everything, but here’s what even more interesting for me and even more important for the baseball world: Brian McCann, Prince Fielder, Dustin Pedroia, Evan Longoria, Hanley Ramirez, BJ Upton, Nick Markakis, Tim Linecum, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Edinson Volquez, Joakim Soria and Huston Street all had not even experienced their first breath yet. 24 short years later, these young kids are among the games top performers.
Before I go any further, I’d like to discuss with you why I chose “Top Players Under 24”. For all you romantics who were hoping there was some kind of cool fact about the number twenty four (you know, like two plus four equals six and 6 flipped upside down is 9 and there are nine players on a baseball team…) Despite all that being true, the reason was far more simple and although I hate to break your ever so tender hearts, it was simply that there wasn’t enough qualified 23 year old players for the team. Plus, there were enough 24 year olds for me to pick from and adding 25 year olds meant more decisions…which I didn’t want to make.
So, without much more ado, I’d like to introduce to you Baseballnerd423’s All American, All Under 25, All Really Really Good Baseball Players Baseball Team!
Starting at catcher for Nerds Americans Really Really Good Baseball Player:
Brian McCann (not to be confused with Conan O’Brien’s sketch comedian) this Athens born baseball player (not to be confused with the Greek Athens named after Goddess Athena), has really stood out for the Braves since hitting a homerun in his second major league game back in 2005. Making friends with John Smoltz was a smart decision for the very young catcher, as he not only became the personal catcher for Smoltz but soon the Braves traded every day catcher Estrada to the D-Backs and McCann took over in 2006. He made sure to not disappoint the Braves as he hit 24 homeruns, batted .333 and drove in 93 as he won the Silver Slugger Award. 2007 was just as good as he put up similar numbers (.270/18/92) and this year he has continued the success for the Braves. He is batting .301 with 14 homeruns and 44 RBIs halfway into the season. He has made himself known as one of the top four catchers in the league (his last name, McCann, does help this considering the top three all have “M” last names as well) and he has loads of talent we will continue to see.
Before being known for the donuts on the bat (see above picture), he was known as the son of slugging baseball player Cecil Fielder. Then he became known as that 12 year old son of Cecil Fielder who just hit a homerun at Tiger Stadium. In 2002, his senior year in high school, he became known as the kid who hit the ball 580 feet (for those who care, the actual distance was 430 off of Aaron Cook). He soon became known for hitting an insane 50 homeruns coming from nowhere making him the youngest to ever do so at the ripe age of 23! He and his father also became the first father son duo to ever hit 50 homeruns in a season(take that Barry/Bobby Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr./Sr.!) He was the starting first basemen for the 2007 All Star Team, He has made himself known to everyone as one of the best pure hitters in the league and should be feared by all pitchers league wide and although he was first known because of his father, he is quickly moving away from his estranged dad as having his own identity. Oh and although he was allegedly named after singer “Prince”, that shouldn’t make you think less of him.
PS He’s apparently a vegetarian! Who knew?
(I’ll be honest with you. There are only two second basemen 24 and under. Jose Lopez and Dustin Pedroia. Dustin is on the Red Sox, so he got the nod from me. J In all seriousness though, Dustin is one helluva player and although I think Kinsler should have the All Star spot, Kinsler is too old for this team.) Barely making the cutoff for this team for he will be turning 25 in August, Pedroia has shown the world he too can be a top performing player for the Red Sox. In college, Pedroia and Kinsler shared a middle infield at Arizona State University. Standing at 4’9”, Dustin is one of the games top defenders as his fielding percentage was an outstanding .990 in 2007. 2007 was his first year as the starting 2B for Boston, however he slumped early in the season as he batted only .172. However, a 13 game hit streak helped him raise his batting average to at one point .322. His fielding was shown at an exciting climax during Clay Bucholz’s no hitter when he made an outstanding catch to save the no hitter. Dustin is the only player on this list who can say he has won a World Series, and he was a key part of the win with his leadoff homerun. He later won the Rookie of the Year Award. So far in 2008, he has played at an All Star (bench) caliber as he has hit .289 with eight stolen bases and 34 RBIs.
Evan Longoria (not to be confused with Eva Longoria…don’t google his name instead) barely beat out Alex Gordon and Mark Reynolds for my starting third basemen for Nerds Americans Really Really Good Baseball Players. I hope he feels honored. Evan, a former Dirt Bag (Long Beach State Dirt Bags, that is) was always a standout ball player. He won the Cape Cod Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006 Big West Player of the Year. A very young Longoria was drafted third overall in 2006. Evan was an absolutely dominant force in the minor leagues and was soon called up from A to AA to AAA to the Majors in a few short months. In fact, it only took him eight days to go from A to AA. In 2007, Evan hit .307 with 20 homeruns for AA and soon was called up to AAA where he hit .269 with 5 homeruns in 30 games. 2008 has been a very nice success for Evan as he has hit 14 homeruns with a .261 average and 43 RBIs.
This guy, believe it or not (I chose not to) is only 24. However, he can already be considered the second best player in baseball next to A-Rod. The Dominican born athlete has shown that you can be a big short stop, and he has continued his dominance for all three MLB years now. From 2002-2005, he played for the minor league Red Sox and showed the Florida Marlins enough to trade Mike Lowell, Guillermo Mota and Josh Beckett to call Hanley a Marlin. He did nothing but make it worth their while as he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award right away, batting .292 with 17 homeruns, 51 stolen bases, and 11 triples and 46 doubles in his rookie season. He has a perfect mix of power and speed. 2007 was even better for the young star. His power was at a high, with 29 homeruns and 51 stolen bases for a SB and his averaged raised to .332. In 2008, he became the face of Florida and at the half way mark he hasn’t let anyone down with the new contract. He is on pace for all time high as he already has 17 homeruns, 19 stolen bases and is batting .294.
This is part one of this series, because it was already 4 pages at SS. Part two will consist of OF and Pitching.
various articles on http://en.wikipedia.org
various sections of www.espn.go.com
pictures from www.photobucket.com