8 young MLB players tend to become stars in 2022 | Launderer’s report

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    One of the most exciting things about every season is seeing which players emerge as superstars in the league.

    We’re focusing on who might be some of the players who go from good to great, although a few are already there but just haven’t been named All-Stars.

    Only one of these eight players is over 25 years old. All have shown signs in the majors pointing to stardom or are a top pick entering this season with high expectations.

    Let’s do this in alphabetical order.

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    It’s time for one of the game’s elite hitters to finally emerge as an All-Star.

    The trajectory seemed clear when he was unanimously voted the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year.

    Knee injuries kept Alvarez out for most of 2020, and he returned in 2021 after surgery on both knees. The results were good, essentially picking up where he left off as a rookie. Alvarez hit .277/.346/.531 with 33 home runs, 104 RBIs, 138 wRC+ and 3.7 fWAR.

    ZIPS DC expects all of these numbers to improve (.290/.366/.575, with 40 home runs, 126 RBI, 155 wRC+ and 4.7 WAR).

    The 24-year-old slugger was also good enough last year to earn ALCS MVP honors after going 12 for 23 on five extra hits against the Red Sox. It’s hard to imagine Alvarez not making his first All-Star appearance if he’s healthy.

2 out of 8

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The 23-year-old switch hitter broke 18 homers and hit 65 runs to finish third in the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year voting. Expect to see him play on the Cardinals’ roster.

    New manager Oliver Marmol told John Denton of MLB.com that the plan was to have Carlson hit anywhere from first to fifth depending on the matchup.

    Carlson was considered one of the top prospects ahead of his major league debut in 2020, and just over a year ago ranked as the 13th top prospect in MLB Pipeline.

    With a sweet spot rate of 40.6%, ranking him seventh in MLB, and second-half stats including a .505 slugging percentage and .847 OPS, Carlson is ready for a nod. All Star.

3 out of 8

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    France stepped in at first base for the injured Evan White last year and have established themselves as a viable everyday player in that position.

    It cut .291/.368/.445 and posted an r4.3 WAR. The French projection of ZiPS allows him to reduce by 0.282/0.356/0.455 with 21 circuits and a 123 WRC+ this season.

    The 27-year-old could improve his power numbers, but he was a top defensive first baseman in 2021, tied for fourth-highest Outs Above Average among players with at least 250 attempts, according to Baseball Savant.

    With defending AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and All-Star infielder Adam Frazier joining the team, don’t be surprised to see three Mariners in the All-Star Game.

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    Tampa Bay Rays Wander Franco (5) connects for a hit in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of an American League Baseball Division Series, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Boston .  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    The Rays wouldn’t have signed him for that historic, massive contract extension — with such a small sample — without expecting Franco to become an everlasting All-Star.

    He’s already their best player, which immediately puts him in the conversation to be Tampa’s guaranteed representative in the All-Star Game.

    Last year, Franco hit .288/.347/.463 with seven homers. He also had a 43-game on-base streak. This year he wants to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases.

    That’s higher than the ZIPS DC projection, which has it with 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases. But that’s still an optimistic All-Star level projection: .283/.340/.470; 128 wRC+ and 5.2 WAR.

    It would be a surprising disappointment if Franco wasn’t an All-Star.

5 out of 8

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    A sprained ankle suffered in spring training shouldn’t hold up the Pirates’ third goal for too long. He said Jason Mackey of Pittsburgh Post Gazette Friday morning he expects to be in the lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day.

    The Pirates obviously want him healthy and hope he produces like he did in his rookie season in 2020, when he hit .376 with an OPS of 1.124 in 24 games.

    His production dipped last year when he hit just .257 with an OPS of .689 in 96 games.

    Pittsburgh, short of talent these days, is counting on the 25-year-old to produce runs. FanGraphs projects a noticeable improvement over Hayes, with his wRC+ dropping from 88 to 100 and his WAR jump from 1.5 to 3.

6 out of 8

    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    India showed an unexpected increase in rookie power last season, nearly doubling their home run total from their previous season as a minor.

    He homered 21 in 150 games for the Reds last season and 11 home runs in 121 games for High-A Daytona and Double-A Chattanooga in 2019.

    If this is the rate at which he is improving, watch out.

    Logic dictates that there could be some kind of regression to the mean, as his .326 BABIP last year was higher than at any time in the minor leagues.

    If he is able to maintain that level of play, India should be an above average hitter on a bad team.

    FanGraphs predicts the 25-year-old will hit 22 homers with a 116 wRC+ and 3.8 WAR.

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Kelenic’s spring was relatively quiet, but he caught the eye of new teammate Jesse Winker, who made his All-Star debut for the Cincinnati Reds last season.

    “Jarred is a special player, man,” Winker told reporters. “A special talent. Only 22. Built like that, like a running back. Great batting speed, great swing. I’m all for left-handed swings, and he’s got a really nice one. Gonna be fun to play at by his side and watching him blossom into a superstar. I think that’s what he and Julio will become.”

    The Mariners’ future success depends on players like Kelenic, and they’ve made the investments this offseason to finally break their record playoff drought.

    Trading for Winker last month, signing AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and acquiring Adam Frazier from the San Diego Padres are among the team’s notable moves.

    The hope in Seattle is Kelenic building on the final five weeks of his 2021 season, when he slashed .248/.331/.524 with seven homers and a 135 wRC+.

8 out of 8

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    If it hadn’t been for an unlucky first month of the season, Tucker could very well have been an All-Star last year.

    His teammate, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, won the American League batting title. But it was Tucker who led the American League in batting average (.320), slugging percentage (.600), OBP (.387) and OPS (.986) after May 1.

    In 140 games last season, Tucker finished with .294 with 30 homers, 92 RBIs, 37 doubles and a .917 OPS.

    Now just consider what those numbers would have looked like had he not slashed 0.175/0.242/0.342 with a 45.7% hard hit rate through the first 33 games.

    The Astros have long believed Tucker was destined for stardom. Batting coach Troy Snitker spoke to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart about the 25-year-old’s gradual growth each year and refining his overall approach to the game.

    His offensive role grew last year when the Astros lost George Springer in free agency, and it will happen again this year with the departure of Carlos Correa as well.

    Stats via FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, and Baseball Savant, unless otherwise noted.

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