The Top 25 MLB Players Under 25 Years Old, 2022 Edition

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The major leagues are awash in young talent. In 2021, players under the age of 25 collectively produced a league-average slash line for the first time in MLB history, and many of MLB’s preseason MVP favorites for 2022 are still unable to rent a car without inducing “young driver” fees.

But which young dynamos are at the top of the class? Just as we did last season, The Ringer’s MLB crew—​​Michael Baumann, Zach Kram, Ben Lindbergh, and Bobby Wagner—ranked the top 25 players under 25 years old, first by creating individual lists and then averaging them to produce a final, unified, 100 percent accurate ranking. First, some ground rules:

  • Players must have already debuted in the majors to be eligible. This isn’t a prospect list; we’re sure that Bobby Witt Jr., Julio Rodríguez, Spencer Torkelson, and more will appear in this exercise next year, but they haven’t played their first MLB games yet.
  • Players must be in their age-24 seasons or earlier, as defined by baseball stats sites, which means the cutoff date for their 25th birthdays is July 1, 2022. (Sorry to Yordan Álvarez, who turns 25 on June 27 this year.)
  • We’re ranking players based on how well we think they’ll perform over the rest of their careers, from 2022 onward. Note that this isn’t a surplus value ranking, so contracts and service time don’t matter—but, depending on the voter’s preferences, factors like age, injury history, position, and past performance all do.

Due to age, underperformance, or injury, 13 of the 25 players from last year’s list fell off—but all of the top five are still eligible for this year’s list, so let’s get on to the rankings.

Honorable mentions: Aaron Ashby, Mike Soroka, Alejandro Kirk, Luis Patiño, Cristian Pache

25. Jesús Sánchez (Marlins OF)

Baumann rank: Not ranked
Kram rank: 21st
Lindbergh rank: 24th
Wagner rank: 25th

Argument for: Sánchez didn’t tout the same prospect pedigree as other position players ranked ahead of him, but it’s hard to ignore his 14 homers in 64 games in a pitcher’s park last season. His 31 percent strikeout rate last season is frightening, but if his power continues to prop up his overall batting line, then Sánchez could easily overtake more celebrated youngsters in the years to come. —Kram

Argument against: This is a very clear cut case of “For” and “Against.” The “For” is exactly as Zach has laid out—not many young prospects have 35 homer power. The “Against” is that he might strike out so much that he never sniffs that ceiling. It’s not unlike his new teammate Jorge Soler, a highly touted prospect who never got his swing-and-miss under control. The year Soler hit 48 home runs was the only year he eclipsed 1 full WAR. It’s a hard mold to stick in, and while I think Sánchez has a shot at doing it, it’s tough to count on. —Wagner

24. Emmanuel Clase (Guardians RP)

Baumann rank: 24th
Kram rank: 23rd
Lindbergh rank: 25th
Wagner rank: 24th

Argument for: Yes, he’s a reliever, yes, he’s got a PED suspension on his résumé, but let’s just peek at a screenshot from his Baseball Savant page.

At this point in the list, there’s a lot of uncertainty—former top prospects still hanging on to hype, recent debutants who haven’t shown much, and so on. We project and suspect. But we know Clase throws as hard as anyone in the league, we know he posted a 1.29 ERA in almost 70 innings last year, and we know the Guardians—who don’t give money out willy-nilly—signed Clase to a five-year extension after one full season in the majors. Even if he’s a reliever, we know he’s an impact reliever. —Baumann

Argument against: The case against Clase, as stated above, is that he’s a reliever—a really good reliever, but a reliever nonetheless. That’s why he’s this low on the list despite being among the best in baseball at his assigned job. If we wanted to nitpick—and what’s what we do here in “Argument against” land—we could note that although he gets grounders and weak contact, he doesn’t miss as many bats as one would expect from a fastball-slider guy who throws as hard as he does; the outlier among those sweet Statcast percentile ranks is the not-so-nice 69th-percentile strikeout rate, which would look even more pedestrian compared to his late-inning peers. (The average reliever in medium/high-leverage situations in the eighth and ninth innings last season posted a 26.6 percent K rate, right in line with Clase’s 26.5.) The other slightly concerning aspect of Clase’s profile is that the skill that’s helped him break out could cause him to break down. He’s already thrown the fourth-most 100-mph-plus pitches in the pitch-tracking era, and aside from the seemingly indestructible Aroldis Chapman, the top of the leaderboard is not littered with hurlers who’ve avoided major arm injuries. —Lindbergh

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