You can call this part two of "The Future of Baseball" series. If you haven't seen the "Top 25 MLB Position Players 25 Years Old or Younger" I recommend you check it out.
I have come up with a list of the top 25 MLB pitchers 25 years old or younger. There are a few requirements to be eligible for the rankings.
First, obviously, the player must be no older than 25 by July 31 of this year. Only players currently in the MLB are eligible, so minor league prospects are a no-go. A starting pitcher must have accumulated at least 80 innings to be eligible for the top 25, but they are still eligible for the honorable mentions section if not.
While a pitcher's record is important, I tend to look more at a pitcher's ERA and WHIP, as those are areas that they can control. For instance, Zack Greinke's record might not be eye-popping because he plays on a terrible team, but his ERA and WHIP are phenomenal.
Next to the ranking will be the player’s position, team, and regular season stats leading up through August 2. Here is the stats key:
ERA—Earned Run Average
WHIP—Walks and Hits Allowed per Inning Pitched
The spots 20-25 were difficult to rank, and there are a few deserving pitchers that just missed the top 25. An argument could be made for any of those spots, so let me know what you think.
1. SP, Tim Lincecum—San Francisco Giants: 156.2 IP, 12-3 W-L, 2.18 ERA, 191 K, 41 BB, 1.05 WHIP, Age: 25
The reigning NL Cy Young winner hasn't slacked off one bit. Lincecum is ranked in the NL's top three in wins, strikeouts, WHIP, complete games, innings pitched, ERA, and win percentage. Lincecum has thrown two shutouts this season. That's one heck of a resume right there folks.
2. SP, Zack Greinke—Kansas City Royals: 147.1 IP, 10-6 W-L, 2.08 ERA, 153 K, 28 BB, 1.09 WHIP, Age: 25
I think all baseball fans pity Greinke. So much talent, so little run support playing for the Royals. Greinke has an impressive resume as well, ranking in the AL's top three in strikeouts, WHIP, ERA, and complete games. Greinke has also thrown two shutouts this season.
3. SP, Matt Cain—San Francisco Giants: 140.0 IP, 12-2 W-L, 2.12 ERA, 112 K, 54 BB, 1.17 WHIP, Age: 24
Looking amongst Giants pitchers, you barely have enough time to recollect yourself after seeing Lincecum's stats before you are hit yet again, this time by Matt Cain. Cain ranks in the NL's top three in wins, ERA, win percentage, and complete games.
4. SP, Felix Hernandez—Seattle Mariners: 152.1 IP, 12-4 W-L, 2.78 ERA, 141 K, 43 BB, 1.16 WHIP, Age: 23
It's hard to believe King Felix is only 23, as it seems like he's been around for much longer. Hernandez ranks in the AL's top five in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, ERA, and win percentage.
5. SP, Cole Hamels—Philadelphia Phillies: 123.0 IP, 7-6 W-L, 4.68 ERA, 107 K, 23 BB, 1.32 WHIP, Age: 25
After a World Series championship and MVP award, Hamels has struggled with injury throughout the season which has led to his inconsistency on the mound.
6. SP, Josh Johnson—Florida Marlins: 141.0 IP, 10-2 W-L, 2.87 ERA, 114 K, 36 BB, 1.12 WHIP, Age: 25
Johnson has been spectacular in his first career All-Star season, rankings in the NL's top 10 in wins, ERA, win percentage, innings pitched, WHIP, and complete games.
7. SP, Yovani Gallardo—Milwaukee Brewers: 135.0 IP, 10-7 W-L, 3.13 ERA, 147 K, 64 BB, 1.23 WHIP, Age: 23
Gallardo can be inconsistent at times, but when he's on, he's dangerous. An interesting tidbit: Gallardo is the only pitcher to ever hit a home run off of Randy Johnson, which he did in his first start of the season in April. He ranks third in the NL in strikeouts.
8. RP, Jonathan Broxton—Los Angeles Dodgers: 47.2 IP, 7-0 W-L, 24 SV, 2.83 ERA, 74 K, 20 BB, 0.92 WHIP, Age: 25
The first reliever to make the list, Broxton is excellent in nearly every category. Broxton ranks fourth in the NL in saves, converting 24 out of 27 chances.
9. SP, Edwin Jackson—Detroit Tigers: 139.2 IP, 7-5 W-L, 2.64 ERA, 109 K, 45 BB, 1.15 WHIP, Age: 25
Jackson has pitched well this season after being acquired from the Rays in the offseason. Jackson ranks fourth in the AL in WHIP and third in the AL in ERA.
10. SP, Chad Billingsley—Los Angeles Dodgers: 143.2 IP, 11-6 W-L, 3.82 ERA, 140 K, 63 BB, 1.28 WHIP, Age:24
While Billingsley can be shaky, he has proven himself as a reliable option for the best team in baseball. Billingsley ranks fifth in the NL in strikeouts, although he also ranks fourth in walks.
11. SP, Jon Lester—Boston Red Sox: 134.0 IP, 9-7 W-L, 3.90 ERA, 148 K, 44 BB, 1.31 WHIP, Age: 25
Lester has been shaky this season, but he is 5-2 in his last 10 starts. Lester ranks third in the AL in strikeouts and has thrown two complete games.
12. SP, Jair Jurrjens—Atlanta Braves: 139.0 IP, 9-8 W-L, 2.85 ERA, 98 K, 50 BB, 1.24 WHIP, Age: 23
Through all the Tommy Hanson hype, Jurrjens is sometimes overlooked. He has been solid and steady all year for the Braves, and ranks ninth in the NL in ERA.
13. SP, Joba Chamberlain—New York Yankees: 110.2 IP, 7-2 W-L, 3.58 ERA, 97 K, 50 BB, 1.40 WHIP, Age: 23
We all know what Joba is capable of, and he has started to consistently show his true potential. He has struggled with his control, and ranks sixth in the AL in walks even though he's only pitched 110 innings. He does, however, rank third in the AL in win percentage.
14. RP, Joakim Soria—Kansas City Royals: 31.2 IP, 2-0 W-L, 18 SV, 1.71 ERA, 40 K, 8 BB, 0.95 WHIP, Age: 25
Soria often goes unnoticed, reason being he plays for the Royals. Soria ranks ninth in the AL in saves and it's a shame he doesn't get more opportunities.
15. SP, Clayton Kershaw—Los Angeles Dodgers: 120.2 IP, 8-5 W-L, 2.76 ERA, 117 K, 65 BB, 1.23 WHIP, Age: 21
The young lefty often struggles with his control, as he ranked second in the NL in walks, but he is still 5-1 in his last 10 starts. Kershaw is ranked sixth in the NL in ERA.
16. SP, Matt Garza—Tampa Bay Rays: 136.2 IP, 7-8 W-L, 3.69 ERA, 121 K, 53 BB, 1.22 WHIP, Age: 25
Garza's got great stuff, but he struggles with inconsistency and control. He ranks third in the AL in walks, although he does rank eighth in strikeouts.
17. SP, Ubaldo Jimenez—Colorado Rockies: 143.2 IP, 8-9 W-L, 3.76 ERA, 128 K, 54 BB, 1.25 WHIP, Age: 25
Ubaldo has been off and on this season, although he is 2-0 in his last four starts. Jimenez ranks seventh in the NL in strikeouts and sixth in the NL in innings pitched.
18. SP, John Danks—Chicago White Sox: 119.1 IP, 9-7 W-L, 4.00 ERA, 100 K, 46 BB, 1.31 WHIP, Age: 24
Danks has been good of late, with a 4-1 record over his last six starts. He's always had upside, and it appears now he's beginning to hit his stride.
19. RP, Andrew Bailey—Oakland Athletics: 61.0 IP, 4-3 W-L, 14 SV, 2.21 ERA, 69 K, 22 BB, 1.02 WHIP, Age: 25
The rookie closer has just about been the most productive player for the struggling Athletics. He has a great ERA and WHIP, especially for a rookie.
20. SP, Ricky Romero—Toronto Blue Jays: 109.2 IP, 10-4 W-L, 3.53 ERA, 87 K, 42 BB, 1.38 WHIP, Age: 24
A leading Rookie of the Year candidate, Romero has been on tear as of late. Romero is 7-1 over his last 10 starts, and is ranked ninth in the AL in wins and seventh in win percentage.
21. SP, Kevin Slowey—Minnesota Twins: 90.2 IP, 10-3 W-L, 4.86 ERA, 75 K, 15 BB, 1.41 WHIP, Age: 25
Slowey hasn't pitched for a month, and is most likely out for the rest of the year after having surgery on his right wrist. It's a shame, as Slowey already reached double digits in the win column.
22. SP, Johnny Cueto—Cincinnati Reds: 126.1 IP, 8-8 W-L, 4.06 ERA, 95 K, 43 BB, 1.34 WHIP, Age:23
Cueto has struggled of late, losing four of his last five starts. Cueto struggles with inconsistency like many other young pitcher, but he's got good stuff.
23. SP, Brad Bergesen—Baltimore Orioles: 123.1 IP, 7-5 W-L, 3.43 ERA, 65 K, 32 BB, 1.28 WHIP, Age: 23
While Bergesen is not a strikeout pitcher, he makes up for it in other ways. Bergesen doesn't get much attention, or run support for that matter, playing on the Orioles, but he's definitely a young talent.
24. SP, Brett Anderson—Oakland Athletics: 108.0 IP, 6-8 W-L, 4.33 ERA, 85 K, 31 BB, 1.31 WHIP, Age: 21
Anderson has made the most out of his rookie season, showing that he's got good stuff and also has good control. Anderson is 3-1 over his last six starts, in which he tossed a shutout against the Red Sox.
25. SP, Rick Porcello—Detroit Tigers: 105.1 IP, 9-7 W-L, 4.36 ERA, 55 K, 35 BB, 1.41 WHIP, Age: 20
The 20-year-old rookie has been up and down all season. Porcello has gone 1-3 over his last six starts, but the talent and upside is undoubtedly there.
Honorable Mentions (In no particular order):
SP, John Lannan—Washington Nationals
SP, Dallas Braden—Oakland Athletics
SP, Max Scherzer—Arizona Diamondbacks
SP, Chris Volstad—Florida Marlins
SP, Luke Hochevar—Kansas City Royals
SP, Scott Kazmir—Tampa Bay Rays
SP, David Price—Tampa Bay Rays
SP, Jordan Zimmermann—Washington Nationals
SP, Phil Hughes—New York Yankees
SP, Tommy Hanson—Atlanta Braves
SP, Mike Pelfrey—New York Mets
SP, Trevor Cahill—Oakland Athletics
SP, Clayton Richard—San Diego Padres
RP, Matt Capps—Pittsburgh Pirates
Also on OnlineSportsFanatic.com.