25 Best Baseball Players Under 25

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Baseball's top young stars age 25 and under.

<p> Baseball's top young stars age 25 and under.</p>

If you were trying to win a championship this season, would you rather have youthful talent? Or seasoned experience? Consider a roster of players age 25 and younger vs. a roster of veterans age 35 and older. Here’s my 25-man roster of players who were age 25 or younger on Opening Day (April 4). Next week, I’ll showcase the veterans.

Catcher
Buster Posey, San Francisco
The former Rookie of the Year is hitting .361 and has allowed just three stolen bases in 80 innings behind the plate.

First Base
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
Hosmer is the cornerstone of the Royals’ future offense. Although he’s struggling so far this season, Hosmer hit .293 with 19 homers after arriving in early May last season.

Second Base
Jemile Weeks, Oakland
The rising star for the A’s hit better than .300 and stole 22 bases in less than 100 games as a rookie last season. He should be the offensive catalyst for the A’s for years to come.

Third Base
Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco
Records show that Kung Fu Panda won’t turn 26 until August, so he qualifies by a few months. Once he proved he could keep his weight down, he’s kept his batting average up.

Shortstop
Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
The Cubs’ rising star may look lackadaisical at times, but he led the National League in hits last season, and he covers a lot of ground at short.

Left Field
J.D. Martinez, Houston
Astros fans can look forward to Martinez hitting in the No. 3 hole for several more seasons. He was Houston’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2010 while at Double-A, and hasn’t been overmatched in the bigs.

Center Field
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
It seems like he’s been patrolling center field for the Bucs forever, but he won’t be 26 until October.

Right Field
Justin Upton, Arizona
A thumb injury has derailed Upton this season. The right fielder missed just three games last season, hitting 31 bombs and stealing 21 bags.

Starting Pitchers
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
There’s no surprise that the reigning National League Cy Young winner would lead this rotation.
Stephen Strasburg, Washington
It appears that he has completely recovered from Tommy John surgery. Now if the Nationals will just turn him loose, we could see just how good the flamethrower can be.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle
King Felix turned 26 just after this season started, although it seems like he’s been Seattle’s ace since Ken Griffey’s first tour with the Mariners.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco
After the first three spots in our rotation, the choices get much tougher. Bumgarner pitched through tough luck last season, with just three runs or less of support in 16 of his 33 starts.
Jaime Garcia, St. Louis
In a razor-thin close call, Garcia is chosen over Yu Darvish of Texas and Ivan Nova of the Yankees. Garcia went 26-15 over 60 starts in 2010-11 and has postseason experience.

Bullpen
Matt Moore, Tampa Bay
We’re going with a traditional 10-man pitching staff and we like having a lefthander who can eat innings and miss bats.
Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay
Moore’s teammate is the right-handed version of our long man.
Setup Men
Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati
Officially, Chapman is only 24. He also throws 100-mph gas for multiple innings from the left side. Valuable asset.
Neftali Feliz, Texas
Developed as a starter in the minors, then converted to one of the best closers in the game, Feliz has returned to the rotation this season.

Closer
Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
Kimbrel was lights out last year until he ran out of gas late in the season. Manager Fredi Gonzalez plans to take it easy on Kimbrel this season.

Bench
Matt Wieters, Baltimore
We won’t lose much when one of the best catchers in the game subs for Posey.
Elvis Andrus, Texas
Due to his experience, Andrus gets the bench spot over Dee Gordon of the Dodgers.
Carlos Santana, Cleveland
With the same birthday as Hernandez, Santana barely makes it eligible. The switch-hitter can hit and gives us a third emergency catcher.
Billy Butler, Kansas City
The hitting machine really doesn’t have a position, but he can rake.
Austin Jackson, Detroit
Jackson is proving what a complete player he can be. We love his speed and defense off the bench.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
A quick glance at his split stats shows that he has much more power going by Mike than Giancarlo.
Brett Lawrie, Toronto
We need another infielder and Lawrie plays the game with the kind of gusto and confidence we like.

—By Charlie Miller, follow him on Twitter @AthlonCharlie.

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