All-Star game features ‘boys’ of summer
Game boasts 12 All-Stars 24 or younger, including seven in the National League
Flip on any highlight show and you’re almost sure to see them, with those peach-fuzz faces and boyish features beneath their big league caps.
Mike Trout makes a diving catch on the warning track.
Manny Machado whacks another double into the corner at Camden Yards.
Bryce Harper belts a tape-measure home run or barrels into a catcher ... or an outfield fence ... or whatever stands in his way.
The next generation of baseball stars has arrived — straight from the senior prom, it seems — and these guys are changing the complexion of the grand ol’ game.
Derek Jeter is 39 and injured, left off the All-Star team for the first time in eight years.
Matt Harvey is 24 and merciless, with a polished array of breaking pitches to complement 98 mph heat.
“There’s definitely a different breed of ballplayer coming out,” Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “This seems to be one of those cycles where a lot of young players are flashing quick.”
Trout and Harper, the Rookies of the Year last season, are making their second trip to the All-Star game. This time, they will be starting Tuesday night at Citi Field after getting elected by fans with a fervor for the new boys of summer.
Some of baseball’s best players are among the youngest on the field. Night after night, they are putting up unprecedented numbers and turning in spectacular plays that belie a birth certificate from the 1990s.
There are 12 All-Stars this season 24 or younger, seven in the National League. That’s the most since a dozen were selected in 1993, according to STATS — a group that included Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza, Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina and Juan Gonzalez.
The only player from that bunch under 23 was 21-year-old catcher Ivan Rodriguez. This year, there are four.
That doesn’t include Los Angeles Dodgers sensation Yasiel Puig, left out of the game after six electric weeks in the big leagues at 22. More to come from him, for sure.
In all, 12 players who qualified as rookies last season made this All-Star game. So much for sophomore slumps.
“It is kind of amazing the level that these young guys are playing,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who is reminded of the mid-90s when Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra broke in at shortstop in the American League.
“It’s good for the game,” Trout said. “A lot of young guys are playing fearless and making a name for themselves at an early stage in their career.”
Not only that, they are moving merchandise.
Jersey sales for Harvey, Harper and Trout rank among the top 10 this season based on purchases of Majestic tops at MLB.com, said Major League Baseball and the players’ association last week.