Over at ESPN.com (Insider only) today Keith Law finally unveiled a project that was first suggested on a Bill Simmons podcast back in September: his list of the 50 best MLB players who’ve yet to play their age 25 season.
The “MLB” in the title is rather intentional, as he only included players who have burned their Rookie of the Year eligibility, meaning that the likes of Bryce Harper and Matt Moore, who would surely otherwise be, aren’t on the list.
Much of the Jays’ prospect wealth is still outside the Majors, so they’re not terribly well-represented here, but they most certainly are– notably so by Brett Lawrie, who Law ranks tenth. When I saw it I wondered if some ultra-homer Jays fans might turn up their noses at the ranking, but I certainly hope not– he slots in just behind Stephen Strasburg and Madison Bumgarner, ahead of Mike Trout and Jason Heyward. Newsflash: that’s slightly fucking good.
The D’backs’ Justin Upton tops the list, with Andrew McCutchen, Mike Stanton, Buster Posey, Clayton Kershaw, Starlin Castro, and Eric Hosmer also appearing in the top ten. Colby Rasmus ranks 43rd, between Jeremy Hellickson and Danny Espinosa, while– I shit you not– Travis Snider gets an honourable mention.
Here are the Jays-related tidbits from the piece, and the follow-up KLaw Chat that took place this afternoon and featured several readers confused about the age cut-off (born on or before July 1, 1986). FYI, there’s some non-50 Under 25 content in there. Tyler Beede-related tidbit alert!
Brett Lawrie (10): “He may not hit like he did in 2011 for a full season (.953 OPS in 171 PAs), but his first taste of the majors was pretty impressive for a 21-year-old coming off a hand injury and jumping into baseball’s toughest division,” Law writes. “Lawrie had a big off-season before 2011, changing organizations and agents, and concerns about his coachability disappeared. With Toronto, he showed he can murder a fastball, added value on the bases (he’s a plus runner despite his muscular build), and played a surprisingly strong third base. He’s going to see a lot more off-speed stuff in 2012, and will have to improve his recognition of and/or ability to hit those pitches. But the ceiling here just keeps going up, and a peak with a .400 OBP, 30-plus homers, and 20-plus steals is within reach, with above-average or better defense at third.”
Colby Rasmus (43): “Freed from a situation in St. Louis he’s acknowledged was hurting his on-field production, Rasmus was traded to Toronto, got hurt, and didn’t exactly produce when he was healthy (.517 OPS in 140 PAs with the Jays),” Law explains. “He has a good eye and a short, simple swing with good leverage to produce power, but his lower half became very busy in 2012, and he struggled getting his front leg down for proper timing. Toronto can afford to be patient, and an athletic outfielder with his kind of plate discipline is rare enough that they were smart to pounce on him when he fell out of favor with the Cardinals.”
From the Chat…
Really, really enjoyed your Top 50 Under 25 piece, and was happy to see Travis Snider get an honorable mention. Would it be a no-brainer to you to give Snider the full-time LF job over Eric Thames in Toronto?
He’s just too young to give up on, but not only has the major league performance been bad, he’s looked bad doing it. Given how elite he was as a prospect, I wanted to put him on the list, even at the bottom, just to say “there’s still a chance” … but rationally I couldn’t do it. Yes, I’d play him over Thames. Thames has a part-timer ceiling.
Do you believe in this whole fresh start playing for a different team idea?
I think it exists, yes. It’s player to player, and I would like to at least be able to identify the reason an environment didn’t work for a player before touting the “hey, change of scenery!” argument in favor of a trade. We know why Rasmus was no longer a fit in St. Louis, for example.
Gruber’s Mullet (Toronto)
Brett Lawrie at #10. How much of an impact did this high ranking have with his play when he got called up to the majors?
If you’re asking whether he’s at 10 because he hit so well in the big leagues, the answer is largely no. It’s based on tools and potential, and the very real improvement in his defense between March and October.
I could be crazy, but given that he’s coming off a down-year after two very good ones and the perception of Petco, is there a chance that Heath Bell ends up getting undervalued and signing a pretty reasonable deal?
Not just a down year in stats, but down year in velocity too. That’s a real concern.
Is Tyler Beede kicking himself at this moment?
No. He and the Jays disagreed on the health of his shoulder. It wasn’t strictly about money.
Do you think the Blue Jays should move Brett Lawrie back to second base?
No, given the progress he’s made at third, I wouldn’t mess with it.
David H (Chi)
I don’t have insider, can I assume Castro was on your list. If so, where?
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