There were plenty of interesting takeaways from the first All-Star balloting update this week, and one of the most salient points was the energy behind the current youth movement in baseball. The leading vote-getter as of the first update was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. And along with Ronald Acuña Jr. (second) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (fourth), three of the top four vote-getters thus far are 23 years old or younger.
We’ve seen plenty of young All-Stars over the years, but this trio could still set two notable marks.
The youngest leading vote-getter
Either Guerrero, Acuña or Tatis would be the youngest leading vote-getter since voting was returned to the fans in 1970. Four players have been the top overall vote-getter and been 24 years old for that year’s All-Star Game, which stands as the current mark: 2017 Bryce Harper, 1994 Ken Griffey Jr., 1986 Darryl Strawberry and 1972 Johnny Bench.
Any one of the three would surpass that, as Guerrero and Tatis are 22 years old and Acuña is 23, and by a rather large margin. What an exciting fact to await -- which young superstar might set this record? It’s rare for a player this young to command the entire baseball world at such a young age, but it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from these youthful stars.
Three of top four under 24 years old
It isn’t just about the fact that any one of these three players would be the youngest leading vote-getter. It’s also notable that all three are in the mix. Since 1996, there has been just one year when multiple of the top four vote-getters were 23 or younger at the time of that year’s Midsummer Classic.
That was in 2015, with a 23-year-old Mike Trout and a 22-year-old Harper. But that was just two of the top four vote-getters. If the current top four, of Guerrero, Acuña, Trout and Tatis, holds, this would be three of the top four, all under the age of 24. That’s something we haven’t seen since at least ‘96.
Overall young starters
If we add 24-year-olds to this mix, the initial voting update had five players under the age of 25 in starting positions -- with Ozzie Albies and Rafael Devers in addition to the three. Of course, there’s still plenty of voting left to be done, and that positioning doesn’t guarantee a starting role yet. But it does inspire curiosity.
Only two All-Star Games have featured at least five position player starters under the age of 25: 2016 and 1955. The 2016 game had seven: from 24-year-olds Manny Machado, Kris Bryant and Trout to 23-year-olds Harper, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, plus 22-year-old Addison Russell.
In the ‘55 edition, it was 24-year-olds Ernie Banks and Harvey Kuenn, 23-year-olds Mickey Mantle and Eddie Mathews, and 20-year-old Al Kaline.
The youth movement has arrived
The entire voting landscape could change by the next update, but it seems hard to believe that Guerrero, Acuña and Tatis won’t continue to figure in prominently. If either leads all vote-getters, he would be the youngest to do so since ‘70. And if all three stay in this top four, even more history could be on the way.