If I've learned anything from blogging, it's that people love lists. And get used to being poor. So I'm going to run out some lineups that fall in line with the arbitrary parameters that I have set. Today's lineup consists of players who are 25-years-old or younger by April 1st, 2011. The 2011 stats are Bill James' forecasts since Baseball Prospectus' pay wall is impossible to navigate around without any cash.
Catcher - Buster Posey 3/27/1987
2010: 18 HR, .305/.357/.505, .368 wOBA, 3.9 WAR
2011: 21 HR, .308/.370/.506, .380 wOBA
When the Giants finally shipped off Bengie Molina's 7 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, Posey took over the catching duties in San Fran and never looked back. He was the NL ROY and finished 11th in MVP voting while becoming a blog favorite here.
Carlos Santana and Matt Wieters both turn 25 this year and have bright futures, even if Wieters is fantasy kryptonite for me. But Posey is already a star and would be the face of the franchise if it wasn't for that dirty hippy.
First Base - Ike Davis 3/22/1987
2010: 19 HR, .264/.351/.440, .345 wOBA, 3.4 WAR
2011: 23 HR, .283/.374/.488, .377 wOBA
First base was a little tough considering Brandon Belt will probably replace Davis on next year's team. Davis gets the nod here because I wanted to give Mets fans a reason to step back from that ledge for a minute before the season starts. They'll probably be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in April.
Second Base - Gordon Beckham 9/16/1986
2009: 14 HR, .270/.347/.460, .351 wOBA, 2.2 WAR
2010: 9 HR, .252/.317/.378, .305 wOBA, 0.9 WAR
2011: 15 HR, .273/.343/.436, .338 wOBA
Which Beckham will show up in 2011? The only thing I can guarantee is that it won't be Tim. I still believe in Gordon but that was a disaster of a sophomore campaign. I also considered Sean Rodriguez but I'm still pretty bummed that he was the PTBNL in the Scott Kazmir deal.
Dustin Ackley and Jean Segura aren't that far away from bumping Beckham from his starting gig on this team though.
Short Stop - Starlin Castro 3/24/1990
2010: 3 HR, .300/.347/.408, .325 wOBA, 2.0 WAR
2011: 4 HR, .310/.359/.428, .343 wOBA
Considering Castro won't turn 21 until March, it looks like he has all of the goods to be a perennial All Star. That's the good news for Cubs fans. The bad news is they couldn't move Alfonso Soriano's chubby contract to the Angels. Yet.
Third Base - Evan Longoria 10/7/1985
2010: 22 HR, .294/.372/.507, .376 wOBA, 6.9 WAR
2011: 31 HR, .295/.379/.537, .397 wOBA
Not only is Longoria still just 25, he might already be the best player at his position in baseball. He's my way too early pick for AL MVP. Plus, he's signed to the most team friendly contract in the recent history of MLB. Add all of that together and you can see why stat super nerd Dave Cameron named Longoria the most (trade) valuable player in all the land.
Right Field - Jason Heyward 8/9/1989
2010: 18 HR, .277/.393/.456, .376 wOBA, 5.0 WAR
2011: 22 HR, .295/.411/.493, .395 wOBA
Heyward arrived with a massive cloud of hype surrounding him and didn't disappoint. Heyward finished in the top ten in OBP while playing the majority of the season as a 20-year-old rookie. The force is strong with this one. And to get on my good side, he even recorded a Platinum Sombrero on June 5th.
Remember Justin Upton? Yeah, me neither.
Center Field - Andrew McCutchen 10/10/1986
2010: 16 HR, 33 SB, .286/.365/.449, .363 wOBA, 3.3 WAR
2011: 16 HR, 33 SB, .287/.364/.445, .359 wOBA
Center field was a little tricky for me because I really like Colby Rasmus. But Tony LaRussa will find a way to play the corpse of Jim Edmonds or Jon Jay or a traffic cone in center instead of giving Rasmus the full time gig. McCutchen is also a lot of fun to watch which isn't something routinely said about the Pirates.
Left Field - Carlos Gonzalez 10/17/1985
2010: 34 HR, 26 SB, .336/.376/.598, .416 wOBA, 6.0 WAR
2011: 28 HR, 22 SB, .308/.357/.545, .390 wOBA
I slid CarGo into left because he did start 51 games there and posted his best UZR there compared to the other outfield spots. Sure his home-road splits hurt my feelings but he still had an amazing season in 2010 and crashed Albert Pujols' and Joey Votto's little Triple Crown race.
DH - Billy Butler 4/18/1986
2010: 15 HR, .318/.388/.469, .372 wOBA, 3.4 WAR
2011: 18 HR, .307/.377/.476, .373 wOBA
Butler is one of those players who seems like he should be much better than he is. He doesn't really have a position so his lack of power is disconcerting for a DH or even a first baseman. Unless you're the Angels. But he hits the gaps (6th in doubles in 2010) and has a solid OBP.
Staff Ace - Felix Hernandez 4/8/1986
2010: 2.27 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 3.26 xFIP, 6.2 WAR
2011: 3.31 ERA, 3.30 FIP
King Felix won his first Cy Young in his 6th year in the bigs as a 24-year-old. If he was on a different MLB team (not talking about you, Pittsburgh), we might be looking at the next/last pitcher who could get to 300 wins. At least voters are now looking past pitcher wins so Felix should be able to score a few more trophies. By trophies, I mean Cy Youngs just in case anybody confused the Mariners as a playoff team for the foreseeable future.
Closer - Neftali Feliz 5/2/1988
2010: 2.73 ERA, .2.96 FIP, 3.68 xFIP, 1.7 WAR
2011: 2.66 ERA, .2.97 FIP
I'm still in the "make Feliz a starter" camp but the Rangers don't reply to my emails and it seems like they're going to leave him in the closer role. He is fantastic there but they just lose too much value keeping him in the pen if he can start.