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The Rise of the New Face of Major League Baseball

Over the last 5-10 years when thinking about the face of Major League Baseball, I think of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Altuve and a few others.

While most of those men are still relevant to the sport, I believe that the torch has been passed to the next generation of talent. A generation bringing excitement and drama back to the game of baseball.

One of those players has already been on the list in one Shohei Ohtani. With him immense power and crazy pitching skills, he is truly a once in a generation talent. Even without the pitching right now after Tommy John surgery, he still is must see television.

With his .320 batting average and his 24 home runs already in mid June, if you get a chance to watch him play you do.

Another player that seems to be emerging as a frontrunner for the face of the sport is Elly De La Cruz of the Cincinnati Reds. The speedy infielder stole 35 bases in 2023, and so far in 2024 he has already stolen 37 bases.

His defense is also very good and he reeks havoc on the base paths. The pitcher can know he is stealing and he will still swipe the base.

Watching him run reminds me of the like of Rickey Henderson back when I was young (I’m really dating myself). I enjoy watching him play unless he is playing the team I cover in the Texas Rangers.

Now even thought he is currently on the injured list, you can’t leave out Ronald Acuna Jr. In 2023 the man hit over 40 homers and stole 73 bases. That’s not a typo.

Acuna also had a slash line of .337/.416/.596/1.012. The man can get on base and he can get a hit off just about anyone. As a baseball fan I was disappointed to see him go down this season.

You always want to see the best players stay on the field, but baseball is nothing if not adjusting to injuries.

Although I’m bound to miss a few names (let me know in the comments), one man that I cannot go without mentioning and the reason I wanted to write this piece is the Pittsburg Pirates dynamic starting pitcher Paul Skenes.

Besides having an amazing throwback moustache, Skenes may be on the of the most overpowering starting pitchers we have seen in quite some time.

With 8 starts under his belt Skenes has an ERA of 2.14 with 61 strike-outs to just 8 walks. He has a SO9 (Strike-outs per 9 innings pitched) of 11.8.

His WHIP sits at 0.993. If he can finish out the season anywhere near how he began in, he will be a shoe in for Rookie of the year.

People around the league have taken notice of the rookie, and his manager Derek Shelton has noticed his ability to adjust in game.

“The ability to adjust really stands out. He’s done a nice job adjusting,” Shelton said according to Trib Live. “When anybody throws 100 or 102, you have to attack the hardest pitch. That’s something he’ll continue to see. The really good thing is he has other weapons to attack people with, and we have seen that the last couple starts.”

Skenes consistently hitting 101 or 102 on the gun is impressive, but big leaguers can catch up with speed. His adjustment and secondary pitches are really getting the job done.

If Skenes can stay healthy he is going to have one heck of a career. For me, he is someone that I enjoy catching every chance I get.

There always comes a time when a sport goes from one generation to the next. People my age remember John Elway and Joe Montana in the National Football League, then came Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and now we have Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow.

The same works in every sport. It will be fun to watch who else rises over the next few season in the MLB and who takes the reins as the best player in baseball.


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