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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

10 Degrees: It’s the real ‘Golden Era’ as baseball today has the greatest group of young, prime players in the sport’s history

Here is a fact: There is more prime everyday talent in baseball today than ever in the game’s history. It is absurd, really, just how good today’s players are. Bud Selig used to jabber about how he oversaw the game’s “Golden Era.” No. That is right now. Those who won’t acknowledge it are ignorant. Those who disagree with it are wrong. And those not witnessing it, for one reason or another, are doing themselves a disservice.

First, it’s important to define prime. The long-held notion of age 27 to 32 no longer holds – and probably never did. A number of teams see players’ truest prime years as 24 to 26, and considering how baseball is skewing ever younger, it’s a reasonable supposition. And with that definition in place, here is the list of players in their primes in 2018:

Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Alex Bregman, Bryce Harper, Christian Yelich, Kris Bryant, Aaron Judge, Javier Baez, Matt Chapman, Trevor Story, Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, Willson Contreras, Eugenio Suarez, Eddie Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Gary Sanchez, Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto. There are more. Among those listed are the eight highest-ranking players on FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement leaderboard for 2018.

So, which of the aspects to this argument is most obnoxious: the presentism so thick you could cut it with a knife, the cherry-picking that is so essential to this argument being, or the fact that so much of it hings on a point that is never justified or adequately explained?

QLE Posted: September 25, 2018 at 09:12 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: golden era, questionable claims, statistical abuse

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   1. TomH Posted: September 25, 2018 at 12:57 PM (#5751439)
..or that it "hings"? :)
   2. TomH Posted: September 25, 2018 at 12:57 PM (#5751440)
(says the King of Typos)
   3. BDC Posted: September 25, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5751511)
Well, OK, this is kinda pointless, but … how does 2018 match up with other seasons in terms of excellent 24-26-year-old position players?

I will define excellent as ≥4 bWAR, because that's probably more thought than TFA put into it. There are 14 such players in 2018.

That's very good, but there were 14 such players in 1912, too, when there were just over half as many teams. Excellent 24-26 position players in 1912 included Tris Speaker, Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Frank Baker, Larry Gardner, Larry Doyle, Heinie Zimmerman, and Jack Barry.

The top number of ≥4-bWAR players in any year was 1993, when there were 18 of them (and 28 teams). 1993 featured Piazza, Griffey Jr., Lofton, Thomas, Roberto Alomar, Bagwell, Luis Gonzalez, Albert Belle, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Olerud, Ventura, Salmon – as well as guys like Gregg Jefferies and Carlos Baerga, who looked pretty great at the time if not so much in retrospect. (1993 was the year that Rick Wilkins hit .303 with 30 home runs; I don't remember if he was seen as a future great, but if some catcher had had a year like that at age 26 in 2018, they'd certainly make the list in TFE.)

So anyway, great young players this year but I am not buying the "unprecedented" argument.
   4. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 25, 2018 at 01:49 PM (#5751561)
The reason so much win value is concentrated in young players is the amphetamine ban tilts the playing field in their favor. Old players can't generate value as well as they used to, and it has to go somewhere.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: September 25, 2018 at 01:55 PM (#5751572)
Isn't WAR a particularly bad way of looking at this? Every season has the same total WAR count. If the old players just happen to suck, it will look like the young players are better.
   6. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 25, 2018 at 02:10 PM (#5751595)
Just wanted to point out that Nolan Arenado barely misses the criteria, having turned 27 earlier this season.
   7. DavidFoss Posted: September 25, 2018 at 02:50 PM (#5751647)
The top number of ≥4-bWAR players in any year was 1993, when there were 18 of them (and 28 teams).

I got that number too.

18 - 1993
17 - 1980, 2000
16 - 1999, 2009
15 - 1982, 1984, 1990, 2014
14 - 1912, 1973, 1975, 1992, 2011

There's other recent seasons on the list.

I think there's a bit of multiple endpoints at play with the floor of age-24. This year is not a particularly great year for under-24 players.

The best year of all time for under-24 was 2015 with 9: (Harper, Trout, Machado, Bryant, Betts, Lindor, Bogaerts, Correa, Herrera) beating out 1909 and 1978 by one. This year's numbers could be a sign that that 2015 crop is getting older.
   8. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 25, 2018 at 05:26 PM (#5751823)
They don't even mention Buck Bokai, who debuted in 2015.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: September 25, 2018 at 06:16 PM (#5751855)
Nimmo, Schwarber and Conforto -- never has MLB seen such talent!

I'm hoping the first paragraph is an intentional attempt at humorous over-the-toppiness ... but probably not.
   10. Bote Man Posted: September 25, 2018 at 06:39 PM (#5751880)
Juan Soto and Victor Robles wave "hi" from a distance.
   11. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 25, 2018 at 07:17 PM (#5751909)
Juan Soto and Victor Robles wave "hi" from a distance.

If you're gonna pile on, might want to find where he put the pile.
   12. phredbird Posted: September 25, 2018 at 08:00 PM (#5751930)
along with the crying and moaning from the get off my lawn writers and announcers and retired players, there's always someone making the contrarian argument about how the game and players are better than ever.

frankly, i endorse that general attitude, even when the presentation is flawed.

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