Is MLB Undergoing Major Changing of the Guard?

James MorisetteCorrespondent IIIAugust 16, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 14:  Mike Trout #27 (R) and Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim laugh as they come off the field between innings in the game with the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 14, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

We are watching a major changing of the guard in Major League Baseball—and it is truly exciting to watch.

As a child of the 1990s, this changing of the guard takes me to a time when my friends and I watched Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones and Frank Thomas arrive on the big stage.

It also reminds me of the time when Derek Jeter and Hideo Nomo made their debuts. Boy, how cool that was. To watch these future stars bloom amid already established stars like Kirby Puckett, Ryne Sandberg, Will Clark, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Alan Trammell, Cal Ripken Jr. (and the entire Atlanta Braves starting pitching staff) was a blessing to say the least.

Notice I do not mention PED users from the steroid era, for they crushed the morale of many fans my age. Their acts were a direct kick in the groin to players who reached greatness with integrity.  

2000s: Changing of Guard Heals Old Wounds

But as seen countless times, baseball is a resilient sport.

In the face of strikes and steroids that colluded to destroy the game, I remember another exciting changing of the guard that occurred.

As icons from the 1990s began to retire, a fresh crop of players came along that augmented Jeter, Jones, Nomar Garciaparra and other budding stars.

The 2000s saw the arrival of brilliant players like Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, Miguel Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang, Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver.

There were also Chase Utley, David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Josh Beckett and Dustin Pedroia.

There are others of course, but players like this treated us to a flurry of memories. These players also sparked countless debates when compared to stars of MLB's past.

But most importantly, these stars helped heal wounds inflicted by the steroid era.

2009-2011: Major Changing of the Guard Begins

Now 2012, we are watching another changing of the guard. But unlike transitions in the past, this one seems even more exciting.

With Jones set to retire, and Jeter in the twilight of an iconic career, Evan Longoria, Josh Hamilton, CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder, Roy Halladay and David Wright have become well established stars.

But the next wave of phenoms entering the league seems bigger than any other in recent history.

Some may say this season marks the official changing of the guard.

I think this change began in 2009, when Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Alex Avila, Neftali Feliz, Andrew McCutchen, Elvis Andrus, David Freese and Matt Wieters made their major league debuts.

2010 and 2011 saw the arrival of a tremendously talented group of gifted players. Some say the arrival of these players brought former fans back to the game that had traumatized them many years ago.

While this list is not all-inclusive, here are players who made their debuts in ‘10/’11.

Strasburg Heyward Hellickson Chapman Boesch Jackson Davis, I
Castro Alvarez Nava Santana Stanton Arencibia Tabata
Bourjos Trumbo Gee Revere Alonso Jennings Iglesias
Moustakas Hosmer Belt Goldschmidt Ackley Moore Montero
Trout Seager Rizzo Pineda Diamond Frazier Miley
Nova Sale Lawrie Altuve Thames  Valencia  


2012: Reinforcements Prove MLB Has Bright Future

Now in 2012, baseball fans have seen a firestorm of unbelievable talent roam big league ballparks. With Trout's ascent and Bryce Harper's debut serving as the base, we have seen the following players make their debuts:

Cespedes Berry Middlebrooks Darvish
Grandal Marte Hechavarria Olt
Bauer Chen Jackson, B Machado

Meanwhile, hot prospects Jurickson Profar, Nick Castellanos, Dylan Bundy and Bubba Starling (to name a few) wait in the wings, ready to make big names for themselves.

Yes indeed.

We are watching the changing of the guard in major league baseball--and it is truly exciting to watch.