Will the Dodgers get younger in 2017? How young are the World Champion Cubs? Let’s explore some of these questions in this post.
When Bud Selig busted the PEDS users (probably the only good thing he did for baseball), that changed the dynamic of aging in baseball. Time was when you could keep your body going quite some time after you learned the fine art of hitting a baseball. I’m looking at you, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds.
In the post-PEDS environment, you need to (1) figure out your craft, whether it’s pitching or hitting, (2) play as much as you can, (3) have some long time off while you’re recuperating from a Tommy John surgery (think Walker Buehler), (4) try to get your six years of MLB in to earn your right to free agency, and (5) make some hay while the sun shines after you sign your free agent contract. Not many players will be able to continue injury free through all of this.
Let’s take a look at the 2016 Chicago Cubs. They had tons of young position players, including Kris Bryant (24 years old), Anthony Rizzo (26), Addison Russell (22), Jorge Soler (24), and Jason Heyward (26). Their pitchers? Not as much. Their youngest starter was Kyle Hendricks (27). Their bullpen featured four relievers under 30 – Hector Rondon (28), Trevor Cahill (28), Travis Wood (29), and Justin Grimm (27).
What about the 2017 Dodgers? The old men we know – Chase Utley (38), Rich Hill (37), and Adrian Gonzalez (35). Where are the young guys? Okay, we’ve got some young guys – Julio Urias (20), Corey Seager (23), Joc Pederson (25), Yasiel Puig (26), and Yasmani Grandal (28). That doesn’t even count the almost-30 crew: Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Kenta Maeda, and Pedro Baez – all will be age 29 at mid-season.
Which other young players are ready to step up and contribute? Cody Bellinger(21)? Ross Stripling (27)? Andrew Toles (25)? Alex Verdugo (20)? Walker Buehler (22)? Alex Wood (26)?
What say you? Will 2017 see enough young quality Dodgers mixed with a few wily veterans that will propel the Dodgers to a World Championship?