The Revival Of Major League Baseball
The “steroid era” of Major League Baseball likely ended in 2007.
With the expanded investigation of Senator George Mitchell beginning in 2007, the MLB saw a decrease in the number of players who hit 40 or more home runs: 11 in 2006 to 5 in 2007. Baseball fans have seen heroes like Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa–who were destined to bring back the audience that was lost after the 1994 players strike–destroy the purity of America’s past time. And as a result, World Series television ratings have dropped to an alarming level of 7.6 for the 2012 Fall Classic.
With the rise of popularity of the NFL, reality shows, and primetime series, it’s clear that the baseball audience is dying. But, there is hope.
Seemingly coming straight from Zeus himself, riding lightning bolts from Mount Olympus are the future faces of Major League Baseball: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig, Manny Machado, and Chris Davis. They’re a mixture of brawn and ego, speed and modesty, athleticism and baseball IQ, God and man.
Gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16 year old high school student, Bryce Harper finished high school early with his GED, played a year at a junior college, dabbled in the minor leagues, and has catapulted his way onto the national stage as the 3-hitter for the Washington Nationals. Oh yeah, he’s only 20 years old.
While he may best be known for his brash, egoism– “Baseball needs more superstars.”-“Sophomore slump? I was a sophomore in college and raked.”-“That’s a clown question, bro.”–in two seasons, Harper maintains a .272 batting average, has 35 home runs, 23 stolen bases, 25 outfield assists, and a fielding percentage of .970. In addition, he was recently selected to the 2013 National League All-Star Game.
Lacking the publicity and cockiness of Harper, Mike Trout was brought up after two years in the minors in 2011, was selected to the 2012 and 2013 American League All-Star teams, won the 2012 Rookie of the Year, and was involved in 2012 MVP discussions. As Los Angeles Times writer says, ” Mike Trout is a humble, clean-shaven baseball prodigy from a small town in southern New Jersey.”
Through his two and a half years in Major League Baseball, Mike Trout is hitting .310, with 50 home runs, 73 stolen bases, 156 RBIs, and a fielding percentage of .988.
Vernon Wells puts Trout’s impact perfectly: “I played with Mike Trout. I was there when he got started.”
After being called up in early June, Puig–22 years old–has sent baseball fans into a sense of euphoric bliss. He plays the game with uninhibited passion that can sometimes be called reckless, but that is exactly what baseball needs. Someone who will run into walls to make a catch, wear pitched balls off of the face, and go nuts in a bench clearing brawl.
In addition to his on-field personality, Puig–in 34 games–is hitting .407, with 8 home runs, 19 RBIs, 5 stolen bases, 3 outfield assists, and a .970 fielding percentage.
That’s all that needs to be said about Sir Machado.
Chris Davis has exploded onto the MLB star scene this season. Nicknamed ‘Crush’ for his absolutely monstrous home runs, Davis has made adjustments this past offseason that have led him to be one of the best hitters in the league. While he is older–27–than the rest of the future faces, Crush has asserted himself as the image of power without PEDs.
Looking at only his 2013 MLB season–his greatest by far–Davis is hitting .313, with 33 home runs, 85 RBIs, and an on-base percentage of .390.
Forget the likes of Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez who are the archaic representation of an era marred by liars and cheaters, and welcome names like Harper, Trout, Puig, Machado, and Davis who have power, personality, speed, arm strength, modesty, and honesty. They are the new faces of Major League Baseball; riding in on beautifully white steads to save the kingdom that is baseball.