Baseball entering a very youthful phase

Major League Baseball’s 2016 All-Star Game was a shining example of the game’s changing of the guard — a youth movement, really.

The 68 participants carried an average age of 28 despite Bartolo Colon (43) and David Ortiz (40) disrupting the curve. Seventeen are 25 years of age or younger, and 34 were competing in their first Midsummer Classic.

The youth was on its greatest display with the eight players sent out to start the game for the American League, a group with an average age of 25.

The veteran at the center of attention, in his tenth and final go around as an All-Star, Ortiz said he broke down the experience for his youthful teammates:

“I keep telling them to have fun and enjoy your first All-Star game… I’m going to have so much fun watching them through the years — coming to All-Star Games. But, I told them, ‘have fun, enjoy it. Make sure your family enjoys it.'”

The National League’s starting nine was not exactly decrepit, with an average age of 27.

Kris Bryant, who homered to open the scoring the first inning, spoke to the impressive youth on display:

“It’s special. Playing the first three innings with Addison (Russell), who’s 22, and Corey Seager, who’s 22 — a lot of young guys. Look at Bryce (Harper), 23, and Anthony (Rizzo) is pretty young, at 26. I think it’s special to have this many young guys on the All-Star team.”

Of the last eight MVP’s (two per year), only Miguel Cabrera (33) is currently over 30. A wily vet among the game’s starters at the ripe old age of 26, Eric Hosmer was named the MVP of the event.

One of the 17 first-time AL competitors — 17 on the NL roster — Hosmer said that he wasn’t sure what to expect heading into his first at-bat in which he homered the opposite way, admitting that he fell back on swing-hard-in-case-you-hit-it approach:

“I was going to let it loose, and have some fun. You don’t have much of a gameplan, heading in — you don’t know how pitchers are going to approach it.”

Among other notable first-timers was a trio of rising stars hardly old enough for a celebratory beer — Francisco Lindor (22), Xander Bogaerts (23) and Mookie Betts (23).

Their elder, Wil Myers, 25, explained his emotions when stepping in for the first at-bat as an All-Star:

“In that first at-bat, I was extremely nervous. Probably more nervous than I ever have been in any at-bat.”

Just two years ago it seemed as if Miguel Cabrera, 32, and Albert Pujols, 36, were being forced to hand the keys to the league over to a pair of young stud. But it has become evident that Mike Trout, 24, and Harper will have to battle it out with the young crop of talent.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.