Remember that time when age was considered a major factor in the MLB? When teams would decide to keep young players in their farm system for a couple years so that they could eventually grow as a better athlete?
A time period where a ballclubs’ “years of experience,” was considered one of the main differences between a team making the playoffs or not?
Well that time has gone.
Currently, three out of the top five youngest teams in the MLB are in a position to make it into the postseason.
So without further ado, here are the top 5 youngest teams in the MLB. Note that the teams average age is based on ESPN’s MLB Baseball roster analysis.
5. St. Louis Cardinals
Average age: 27.6
The Cardinals are 67-40 and currently hold the top wild card spot in the National League.
Two of their top five starting pitchers, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha, are only 22 years of age.
As a team, the Cardinals rank in the top 5 in the MLB in runs scored, batting average, on-base-percentage, and ERA.
If the Cardinals make it to the postseason this year, which they probably will, it would mark the fourth time in five years the team has played baseball in October.
That may not sound like much, but don’t forget these past two seasons the Cardinals have been one of the best teams in all of baseball without head coach Tony La Russa managing games in their dugout, or future Hall of Fame slugger and former Cardinals great, Albert Pujols, batting in the middle of their lineup.
The Cardinals have inserted a new formula for winning in St. Louis, and the main component of that formula is making sure to have young, strong arms, taking the mound and throwing for the team.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
Average age: 27.4
The Pirates are 70-47 and currently sit three games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals as the best team in the National League Central, and 1 game behind the Atlanta Braves for the best record in all of baseball.
The Pirates’ ability to get over their typical second half slump may eventually earn the team a playoff spot in this year’s postseason, which would be the first time Pittsburgh fans can watch October baseball since the departure of Barry Bonds in 1992.
The year of 1992 also marked the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season. They only need to win 11 out of their last 45 games to break that streak.
The average age of the Pittsburgh Pirates starting outfield is 25, which is led by 26-year-old MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen.
The numbers on the Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder this season look like this: .313 batting average, 16 home runs, 66 RBIs, and a .386 OBP.
So if McCutchen is not the leading MVP candidate for the NL, then Pirates catcher Russell Martin has be the next man in line to win the award: he’s beautifully handled a staff that is among the youngest in baseball. Out of the 12 pitchers that are currently on the Pittsburgh Pirates roster, only starting pitcher AJ. Burnett has eclipsed the 30-years-old plateau.
With that said, as a team, the pitchers on the Pirates rank 1st in ERA, 4th in WHIP and 1st in opponents’ batting average, in the entire MLB.
And this was the first year that Martin has caught for the Pirates.
His impact on this team has been as important, if not more, than McCutchen’s for the Pirates. If this years young and talented Pittsburgh Pirate squad is able to make it into the postseason, I believe Russell Martin would be the right guy to thank.
3. Miami Marlins
Average age: 27.3
Okay Miami Marlins fans, you have the worst record in the National League and have the 2nd worst record in the entire MLB. So what positives, if there are any, can you take from this year’s team, you might ask?
The answer is a lot more than you might think.
Just like many other teams’ formula to win games, the Marlins have themselves a roster full of powerful pitchers, led by 21-year-old right hander Jose Fernandez. The young Marlins pitcher was named the National League’s Rookie of the Month in July.
Fernandez started five games in July, compiling a 3-1 record and a 2.06 ERA. He pitched 35 innings and allowed only eight runs, while posting a 4-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
On Friday, August 2, the Marlins’ precocious ace shut out the Indians for eight innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out 14. This came on the heels of a 13-strikeout domination of the Pirates in his previous start on July 28, making Fernandez only the sixth pitcher since 2000 with at least a dozen strikeouts in back-to-back games. On that list are pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Mark Prior and Chan Ho Park; pretty accomplished arms if you asked me.
The Marlins may not be great this year, but with all the young arms they have, expect them to be a competitive team in the near future.
2. Atlanta Braves
Average age: 26.7
The Atlanta Braves, 72-47, are not only the hottest team in baseball, but are also the team that holds the best record in the entire MLB.
The Braves may roster a young team, but their players have been “around the corner” a few times, so to speak.
Case in point: Justin Upton. The Braves’ outfielder is only 25, but already has more than 800 games and 3,000 at-bats in the majors to his credit. One other example is Braves catcher Brian McCann. He may be 29, but he is in his ninth season in the majors.
Four out of the five starting pitchers for the Braves are 27 years old or younger. Each outfielder on the Braves roster is 28 years old or younger.
The fact that the Braves have the best record in the MLB with the second youngest team in all of baseball should indicate to you that there is no real correlation between a team’s average age and how it can affect their performance on the field.
1. Houston Astros
Average age: 25.5
If you’re going to have the worst record in all of baseball, you would hope that your team’s average age would be the lowest in the MLB, which is the case for the Houston Astros.
Four out of the seven starting pitchers on their roster are 25 and under; their All-Star catcher, Jason Castro, is 26; all five of their infielders are 26 and under and all five of their outfielders are 27 and under.
It’s obvious the Astros organization is in a rebuilding stage, especially with the transition from the NL to the AL this season.
What’s interesting to note is that 4 out of the top 5 youngest teams in the MLB are from the National League. And the 5th team on that list, the Houston Astros, just became a part of the American League this year!
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