The Ultimate U-25 MLB Team

?        The 2016 MLB season is wrapping up, and once again young stars are at the center of the postseason drama. Guys like Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell. In this article, I'll be creating my ultimate MLB team made up solely of players 25 or younger. We'll start with one position player per position, then I'll list a starting pitcher. Let's get started. 

Catcher: Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees

        Gary Sanchez took baseball by storm when he was called up by the Yankees in late August. In just 53 games, Sanchez hit .299 with 20 HR and 42 RBI. He became the fastest player in history to 19 career home runs. Despite just playing a third of the season, Sanchez is receiving legitimate consideration for the American League Rookie of the Year. I personally believe Michael Fulmer would win it, but that's irrelevant. Sanchez has established himself as a cornerstone piece for the Yankees and one of the most exciting young players in the sport. 

First Base: Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins

         Miguel Sano is very much a feast or famine hitter. In 2016, he hit 25 home runs, but hit just .236 and struck out 178 times. There's a shortage of first basemen under 25 now that Anthony Rizzo and Eric Hosmer have gotten older, so we're pretty much forced to go with Sano here. He's actually only played 2 games at first in his career, so I'm cheating a bit with this selection. Sano was a defensive liability in 2016, making 15 errors, so hopefully playing at first will hide that. I'm very much hoping that Sano is able to round out his game with this selection. 

Second Base: Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

          Trea Turner had a phenomenal 70 games once the Nationals called him up for good in June, albeit in centerfield. Turner played second base during his brief 2015 callup, so I'll put him here for the purpose of this team. In 2016, Turner hit .342 with 13 HR, 40 RBI, and 33 stolen bases. He quickly established himself as one of the league's most exciting players with his incredible speed. Turner was a huge catalyst for the Nationals in the second half, and it'll be exciting to see what he's able to do over a full season. 

Third Base: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

          Kris Bryant has dominated big league pitching in his two seasons in the league. After an incredible rookie campaign in which he won Rookie of the Year easily, Bryant is one of the favorites to take home league MVP this season. In 2016, Bryant hit .292 with 39 HR and 102 RBI. Bryant was one of the most highly rated prospects in recent memory when he was called up for good in April 2015, and for good reason. Bryant is on the fast track to becoming one of the faces of baseball for the next several years. 

Shortstop: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

           Lots of guys could get this spot, but I could only choose one. My sincerest apologies to Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Addison Russell, but Seager gets the nod here. Seager had an incredible debut campaign in 2016, hitting .308 with 26 HR and 72 RBI. He should be the runaway choice for Rookie of the Year and will likely also garner some MVP votes. He looks set to be the Dodgers' cornerstone for the next several years. 

Left Field: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

          The outfield is loaded with young talent, so while Bryce Harper hasn't played left field since 2014, he does have nearly 200 games of experience out there, so I'm sliding him over there to clear up a spot in right. Harper definitely had a down year in 2016, hitting just .243, but his incredible plate discipline still helped him to a .373 on base percentage. Harper's incredible 2015 is also difficult to ignore. In 2015, Harper hit .330 with 42 HR, 99 RBI, and an astounding .460 on base percentage. He also posted a WAR of 8.9 on his way to taking home NL MVP honors. Here's to hoping Harper is able to return to 2015 form.

Center Field: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

          This spot was never really up for any kind of debate. Hands down, Trout has been the best player in baseball since his 2012 rookie season. It's actually pretty amazing that Trout doesn't have more than 1 MVP award. Trout was his usual superhuman self in 2016, with 29 HR and 100 RBI to go along with a .315 batting average and .441 on base percentage. He posted a total WAR of 10.55, which was a full win above second place. Trout is well on his way to being one of the best to ever play the game. And he just turned 25 in August. It'd be absolute nonsense to exclude him from this team.

Right Field: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

           2016 was a breakout party for Mookie Betts. He hit .318 with 31 HR and 113 RBI and posted a WAR of 9.55, second best in the majors. Of that 9.55, 2.83 came from defense, which was also good for second in the big leagues. Betts is Trout's closest challenger for AL MVP. He's the best player on a Red Sox team chock full of young talent. At only 24, it's possible he could still improve upon his breakout year. 

Starting Pitcher:  Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

           Had it not been for the tragic death of Jose Fernandez in late September, Fernandez may have gotten the nod here. Unfortunately, one of baseball's brightest young stars was taken far too soon. However, Syndergaard is a fine option to toe the rubber for this team. At just 23, he's already one of the best in the business. In 2016, he posted a 14-9 record, but easily could've won more games with better run support. He had a 2.60 ERA with 218 strikeouts. He also posted a WAR of 5.26 on the mound. Syndergaard is positioned to be the ace of the Mets for years, and he'll be the ace of this team.

           Major League Baseball is full of young, talented, exciting players. Lots of players who didn't make the cut could be easily justifiable selections for this team. Baseball's popularity has suffered in recent years, but this young crop of players could certainly bring baseball back to the center of the national sports discussion. These players will be extremely fun to watch over the next decade.