Kop's Korner: Welcome to the New Age of MLB

10/10/13 in MLB   |   Alex_Kopilow   |   10 respect

A new trend is rising up in Major League Baseball, and in this postseason it's been hard to miss. As we sit on the brink of the championship round of the playoffs, it's time to recognize a new era of MLB: The youth movement. 

It's out with the high paid, clunky, old squads, and in with the young and energetic.

The past few days of the 2013 playoffs have given us the best examples of this change. Tonight the A's hand the ball off to RHP Sonny Gray, a 23-year old rookie, in Oakland's series deciding game five with the Tigers. He will oppose one of baseball's tops pitchers in Justin Verlander. 

Meanwhile Wednesday night, in game five of the Cardinals-Pirates series, Pittsburgh opted to have Gerrit Cole, another 23-year old rookie, face off with St Louis' Adam Wainwright.

Staying with that series, in game four of the NLDS, the Cardinals were led to a 2-1 victory against the Pirates using three pitchers, all 23 or younger, to knot the series at two games a piece.

Sep 24, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) celebrates his RBI single in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY SportsThis trend isn't limited to pitchers. The average age of all the team's that qualified for the 2013 postseason is 28.7.

Think about the centerpieces of some of these teams. Jason Kipnis, Matt Adams, Wil Myers, Andrew McCutchen.

This trend seems to have changed the landscape of successful teams in baseball. Teams like the Yankees, the Red Sox (of last year), and the Phillies (of three years ago) are being phased out. Those squads, typically built with older, expensive players, are no longer sustainable.

In this postseason, seven of the 10 teams were outside the top 10 in payroll.

MLB is becoming more about building a team, rather than buying one. The faster young players make it to the show, the longer they stay on their rookie contracts at the top level, and in turn teams' payrolls drop.

Plus, with the struggles of the Yankees and Angels, along with the Red Sox and Dodgers of last season, teams are more scared of handing out long-term big-money deals than ever.

This poses an exciting time for baseball. Just as we thought it was falling behind the NBA as the second most popular sport, youth in MLB is giving the league a second wind. 

Young players are inexpensive, which means all those small-market teams can afford them. That, plus the added wildcard spot keeps more teams in the mix across the nation, which should put MLB back on the rise.

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10/11/13   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

The A's were the only 1st place team that fit your parameters, btw.  1 of the 6 division winners relied on the young and energetic this year.  The other teams you mentioned were good, but not quite good enough to actually finish in first place.  The Pirates still haven't finished 1st since 1992 and the Rays have only finished in first twice in their 16 year existence.

10/11/13   |   Alex_Kopilow   |   10 respect

It definitely would have helped my argument if the A's advanced Thursday, but I stand behind my argument. Big market teams (like DET, BOS, LAD) are always going to throw around money, but I think seeing teams like the Pirates, A's, and Rays be so successful with talent from within will make GMs of those teams smarter, and a little more frugal. The true test will be what happens with Robinson Cano. Will he get a mega-contact like Hamilton, Pujols, A-Rod, or will teams ramp it back a little.

10/11/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

well... lets try this analysis on the 4 teams left to compete for the World Series on 2013...  Did those young teams eliminated skew the analysis any ways???????