Meet MLB's All-'Young Buck' Swagger Team
While the MLB is brimming with exciting talent, there are some up-and-coming ballplayers that have it. When it comes to these players, there is no true definition to describe what it is.
Best put, these gentlemen have both skills and swagger that make them nothing less than exhilarating to watch each and every day on the baseball field.
Some of these youngsters perform their exciting deeds with lumber. Others do it with sparkling, and at times unworldly, defense. And some harbor a combo of both, blended with uncanny grit that makes them truly special.
In this slideshow, I will play manager and reveal the lineup that makes up my All-MLB Young Buck Swagger team.
Please note, most of the players in this slideshow have been in the major leagues three years or less. One player is in his fourth year, but he is still very young. And one player is still a prospect, albeit barely.
Also note my front office leadership did not let me have a DH, so I had to be creative in my selections.
That said, here we go!
Leading Off: Mike Trout
This one is a no-brainer, but a must-cover. Leading off and playing center field is LA Angels stud rookie Mike Trout.
This player has been off the charts in every category this season.
What began as bringing a 20-year-old to the show to stabilize an anemic Angels offense has moved into talking about him being not only the AL Rookie of the Year, but also the MVP.
Looking at Trout’s statistics, how can people not?
Through 74 games, Trout is batting .357 (107-for-300) with 15 home runs and 47 RBI. Trout also has 19 doubles, five triples and 31 stolen bases.
More impressively, Trout’s OBP/SLG/OPS is .412/.603/1.016.
Defensively, Trout has been also outstanding—some would say out of this world.
I will never forget Trout robbing J.J. Hardy of a home run at Camden Yards on June 27th. This play (seen in the above YouTube video) will forever be seared in my mind.
Batting Second: Quintin Berry
Batting second and playing left field is the Detroit Tigers' sensational outfielder Quintin Berry.
Since joining the Tigers on May 23rd, this seasoned 27-year-old rookie has refused to let Jim Leyland send him back to Triple-A Toledo.
In 50 games, Berry has batted a respectable .279 with two home runs and 20 RBI. Berry also has four doubles, five triples and 14 stolen bases.
But more impressive than Berry’s bat is his defense.
I was sitting in the left-field seats at Camden Yards the night Berry climbed the left-field wall to steal a home run from Wilson Betemit. Orioles fans were certain it was a home run. But it soon died in the glove of this budding star.
When Berry ended the game against the Chicago White Sox with a spectacular diving play on July 20th, I officially became convinced: This guy is electric.
Batting Third: Andrew McCutchen
Batting third and playing right field is a super-speedy outfielder with a breakout bat, who looks like an everyday Joe.
Actually, some consider 2011 McCutchen’s breakout season. But if this is the case, then this 25-year-old is having a "burst out of uniform and anoint him a superhero" type of season.
Through 91 games, McCutchen is batting an eye-popping .372 (128-for-344). He also has 22 home runs, 66 RBI and an OBP/SLG/OPS of .427/.642/1.070.
Not to mention McCutchen has 17 doubles, five triples and 14 stolen pillows.
Defensively, McCutchen does not look like he runs to the ball. He actually looks like he floats, like he darts toward fly balls in the gap on a Segway.
Batting Fourth: Giancarlo (Stanton and Mark) Trumbo
Look, sometimes in life, one needs to use creativity when faced with a tough decision.
For my cleanup hitter I was torn selecting between Miami Marlins stud outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and LA Angels slugger Mark Trumbo.
So I cloned the two and named it G.T.
Hey, it is my team. I will do what I want with it (smile). Plus, again I was not afforded a DH, so I had no choice but to turn to cloning.
Silly, I know, but GT will bat cleanup and play first base. With GT’s combined 179 hits, 46 home runs and 116 RBI, I have found a tremendously exciting cleanup hitter.
As if both players were not exhilarating in their own right, I also get a player that averages about .290 with roughly a .330 OBP, .580 SLG and .940 OPS.
Defensively, I will also get a player who can play multiple positions, which is a plus!
Not to mention fans have the potential to see majestic moonshots fly out the park.
Batting Fifth: Bryce Harper
There was no way I could keep Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper out of my lineup.
This guy is not only a talented player, but he is also tough as nails.
Take Game 1 of Saturday’s double header, for example. Harper smacks a ball (more like bunts) off his foot. Obviously in pain, Harper fought to stay in the game, but coaches deemed he could not play on.
But in vintage-Harper fashion, Harper pinch hit in the second game, delivering an opposite-field single to left. Shortly after, Harper stole second before tearing around the bases to score on a single to right field.
It is indisputable that Harper has a little bit of Pete Rose in him, and he has a cannon for an arm. That said, with the outfield full, Harper will don the mask and play catcher for my team.
Because, like Chuck Norris, Harper can.
Batting Sixth: Brett Lawrie
Batting sixth and playing third base is Brett Lawrie.
I love this guy’s passion for the game of baseball.
When Lawrie storms to the plate with his tattoos and intense demeanor blaring, one gets the feeling he just came from playing with Metallica before the game.
Still just 22, this power leadoff hitter from Canada is batting .280 (100-for-357) with nine home runs and 38 RBI. He also has 17 doubles and 12 stolen bases.
While Lawrie’s near-league-bottom .956 fielding percent is a concern, my staff will feed him hundreds of ground balls until he masters his position.
Batting Seventh: Jose Altuve
Houston Astros standout Jose Altuve—AKA the little MLB engine that rocks—will be my second baseman. He will bat seventh.
Altuve, 22, is a fan favorite for his consistent bat, upbeat demeanor and lionhearted play.
A superstar in the making, Altuve is batting .293 with five home runs and 27 RBI in a leadoff role for a struggling Houston Astros team.
Hopefully, the Astros will not take too long turn themselves around because the baseball world will lose out on regularly watching this 5'5" ball of exhilaration.
Batting Eighth: Jose Iglesias
I know I will take a slap for this one, but flashy Boston Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias is my shortstop.
Yes, Iglesias is still at Triple-A after several drinks of coffee with Boston.
And yes, Iglesias' bat has not fully reached the potential scouts envisioned—not yet at least.
That said, has anyone seen this guy play defense? Sometimes watching this 22-year-old at shortstop, I feel like I am watching a defensive magician. It's crazy, some of the things he does.
Talk about electric—if placed in the right situation, Iglesias could find his niche as a starting big-league shortstop.
For now, I will showcase Iglesias in the eight hole of my lineup.
Batting Ninth: Stephen Strasburg
Batting ninth and starting on the mound is Washington Nationals hurler Stephen Strasburg.
This 24-year-old California native has generated enough buzz in his early career to start his own bee colony.
Hardy har har: Strasburg’s career pitching numbers are anything but laughable.
In 36 starts, this 6’4”, 220-lbs intimidator is 16-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 202.1 innings pitched. Strasburg has struck out 256 hitters while walking just 51. His WHIP is 1.07.
This season, Strasburg is 10-4 with a 2.85 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 110.1 innings.
Not bad for a guy coming back from Tommy John surgery.
And hitting? This guy can create excitement with his lumber as well.
This season, Strasburg is batting a whopping .357 (10-for-28), with one home run and five RBI. Strasburg also has four doubles and an OBP/SLG OPS of .357/.438/1.045.
Somebody cool this guy off with a firehose!
Setup Man: Kenley Jansen
To keep Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson off my back about limiting Strasburg’s innings, I have signed a reliever to my team from the LA Dodgers.
His name is Kenley Jansen, an electric 24-year-old beast of a pitcher from Curacao.
At 6’5”, 257 lbs, Jansen might be a monster reliever in the making.
During his three-year career with the Dodgers, Jansen has pitched in 121 games, scoring a 2.07 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. He has struck out 205 hitters and walked 59 in 126.1 innings of work.
In 2012, Jansen is 4-3 with a 1.97 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He also has 18 saves and seven holds to go with 68 strikeouts in 45.2 innings of work.
The scary thing is Jansen is still striving to hone his craft. As long as Jansen does not let another player steal home on him, he should be one electric reliever for years to come.
Closer: Aroldis Chapman
Electrifying Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel dissed me, so I am going with Aroldis Chapman as my closer.
Kidding on Kimbrel; Chapman is one of the most exciting closers in baseball.
I hope this Cuban flamethrower can stay healthy. Chapman has the ability to electrify audiences with his morale-destroying fastball.
Still learning the art of closing of course, Chapman has nonetheless been a fun hurler to watch develop.
In 109 career innings pitched (111 appearances), Chapman has a 2.56 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP to go with 176 strikeouts and just 60 walks.
This season, Chapman is 4-4 with a 1.58 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. He has struck out an astounding 86 batters to just 14 walks.
So much for concern about wildness that threatened to derail this Cuban missile launcher. And so much for the previous record for the fastest pitch ever.
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