Major League Baseball looks a lot different today than it did a few generations ago. Power hitting is much more in demand. Stolen bases have steadily decreased because analytics indicate they aren't worth the risk. Strikeout pitchers are the rage. With that in mind, lets look at 20 current young stars and their historical comparisons.
Believe it or not, the Nationals' 21-year-old outfielder could be on his way to a Griffey-like career. In his first full big- league season in 2019, Soto slashed .282/.401/.548 with 34 homers and 110 RBI. Griffey Jr. hit 630 bombs in the majors and made 13 All-Star teams, but when he was Soto's age, his .300/.366/.481 slash line and power numbers (22 homers, 80 RBI) paled in comparison.
Meadows was the No. 9 overall pick of the Pirates in the 2013 amateur draft, and the outfielder instantly became one of the premier offensive prospects in the sport. In his first full season in the majors a year ago, the sweet-swinging lefty hit .291 and drove in 89 runs for the Rays. He also crushed 33 homers and added 36 other extra-base hits. Walker, who played 17 seasons in the big leagues, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. His ability to consistently hit for a high average and with power were his trademarks.
It's almost eerie how similar these big, right-handed hitting first basemen began their big-league careers. As a rookie in Oakland in 1987, McGwire hit 49 homers and drove in 118 runs. He batted .289, added 28 doubles, reached base at a .370 clip, and was the clear AL Rookie of the Year. Debuting last year, Alonso played in all but one of the Mets' games and slashed .260/.358/.583. He set a rookie record with 53 homers, and his 120 RBI were four short of New York's franchise record. He also easily claimed Rookie of the Year honors, and if he can deliver a career to McGwire's -- minus the steroids -- he'll someday find himself in Cooperstown.
Comparing any young shortstop to the Yankees' former captain is difficult, but the Blue Jays' Bichette certainly has the potential to make a similar impact in the division Jeter called home for 20 years. In just 46 games following his July promotion last summer, the second-generation big leaguer hit .311 with 11 homers and 18 doubles. In the minor leagues, Bichette hit .362 over a full season, and the next year he swiped 32 bases. Toronto hopes he can wreck havoc atop their line-up for years.
Guerrero Jr. was the talk of spring training last March, and while the Jays left him in AAA until late April, that was only done for service time considerations. In the majors, Guerrero Jr. hit .272 with 15 homers and 69 RBI, and while he experienced some growing pains, most scouts agree he'll be a star. If he'd like to follow in the footsteps of someone at the hot corner, he could do a lot worse than Beltre. In 21 big-league seasons, the right-handed slugger hit .286 with 477 homers. Texas retired his number last year.
Rutschman has never played in a big league game, but he's been the top catching prospect in the sport since the second Baltimore took him No.1 overall last June. In 644 at-bats at Oregon State, the switch-hitter hit .352 with 28 homers and 174 RBI. His ceiling is through the roof, and he has the potential to be even better than Mauer -- the last catcher to go No.1 overall. Mauer played 15 seasons in the big leagues for the Twins.
Acuna Jr. is well on his way to becoming the Trout of the National League. (Trout's still playing of course, but he's the best comp for Acuna.) In his first full big-league season in '19, the Braves' star outfielder slashed .280/..365/.518 with 41 homers and 101 RBI. He added 22 doubles, two triples and 37 stolen bases. Trout, meanwhile, captured his third AL MVP award in 2019. The veteran hit .291 with 45 bombs and 104 RBI for the Angels last season.
If Robert is able to reach the ceiling scouts project for him, the outfielder will ultimately be a vastly better player than Jones, who played 17 big-league seasons. Jones hit 434 home runs, made five All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Gloves.The White Sox' rookie plays with similar swagger. In only 122 minor league games in '19, he hit .328 with 32 homers, 92 RBI, 31 doubles, 11 triples and 36 stolen bases.
Thome spent the early portion of his career at first base, but he ultimately became one of the most dangerous designated hitters in the American League. The big left-handed slugger is one of only nine players to hit more than 600 home runs in the big leagues, and he was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2018. Alvarez showed significant potential for Houston a year ago. In roughly half a season as the Astros' DH, he slashed .313/.412/.655 with 27 bombs and 78 RBI.
The Oakland Athletics will be thrilled if this comparison holds true. The 22-year-old Luzardo has been one of the top pitching prospects in the game for some time, and 2020 is going to be his big shot. In 43 minor league starts, he posted a 2.53 ERA with a strong 1.02 WHIP. The A's believe he can become their long-term ace. Mulder turned in three dominant seasons from 2001-03 for the A's before tapering off and moving to the National League.
Tim Hudson was arguably the most consistent pitcher of his generation. In 17 big-league seasons, he had a 3.49 ERA in 3,126 1/3 innings. The righty won 222 games and served as the staff leader in Oakland and Atlanta.The Braves' new ace would love to follow in his footsteps. In 29 outings as a rookie a year ago, Soroka went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA. Like Hudson, he's not really a strikeout pitcher, but he could be next in a long line of fantastic Atlanta hurlers.
Kent is one of the best offensive second baseman of all time; the Brewers would be thrilled if Hiura's career mirrors the 17-year veteran's. He opened eyes as a rookie last summer, hitting .303 with 19 homers and 49 RBI in roughly half a season. Before the 2020 season was suspended, Milwaukee was planning to hit him in the clean-up spot.
This is one hell of a comparison, huh? Few humans are capable of becoming the type of player A-Rod was, but Tatis Jr. may have a shot. The 21-year-old Padres shortstop can hit for average and power, steal bases, play stellar defense, and has world-class arm strength. He was one of the best prospects in baseball entering last season. In 84 games for San Diego, he hit .317 with 22 homers.
The Redbirds took Flaherty in the first round six years ago, and last season he truly became the ace they always believed he could be. In 33 starts, the righty had a 2.75 ERA with an 0.97 WHIP and struck out 231 in 196.1 innings. Brown was a first-round pick as well -- 28 years earlier -- and for nearly 20 years, he was an upper-tier starter..
Lux has as much offensive upside as any young player in the game. In 458 minor league at-bats a season ago, the 22-year-old hit .347 with 26 homers and 76 RBI. He added 33 extra-base hits. The Dodgers' youngster probably will be competing with Hiura for the starting second base spot on the NL All-Star team for years to come. Utley was no stranger to being in that position, as he participated in six All-Star games.
This is a fun comparison. The 24-year-old Paddack burst onto the scene as a rookie a year ago. In 26 starts for the Padres, he went 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA on a team that finished well under .500. He drew attention league wide for his fierce competitiveness. Beckett played 14 seasons in the big leagues, finishing his career in 2014 with a 138-106 record.
Posey is one of the more accomplished catchers in baseball history. In 11 seasons with the Giants, he has won three World Series championships, a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a Gold Glove, made six All-Star teams and taken home four Silver Sluggers. Injuries have taken their toll on the Florida State product, but lucky for San Fran, it has his replacement waiting in the wings. The Giants selected Bart No. 2 overall two years ago, and after dominating in the minors, he should soon be a regular for the Giants.
In two MLB seasons, the Yankees' Torres has become one of the best players in the sport. In '19, he slashed .278/.337/.535, drove in 90 and crushed 38 homers. The Ripken comparison is particularly pertinent for the young shortstop, considering 13 of his long balls came against the Hall of Famer's Orioles. Ripken is the gold standard for young shortstops.
Scouts unanimously agree Murphy will be a Gold Glover behind the plate. Offensively, he won't become Mike Piazza, but he should be able to consistently hit .250-.260 with 15-20 homers. What does that combination give you over the long haul? A catcher who looks a lot like Molina, the Cardinals' longtime standout. He has never hit more than 22 home runs in a season. Molina has won nine Gold Gloves and made nine All-Star teams.
Alomar, a Hall of Famer, is one of the best second basemen of all time, and comparing anyone to him isn't something that's done lightly. In 17 big-league seasons, the Puerto Rico native hit .300 with 210 homers, 504 doubles and 474 steals. He made 12 All-Star teams and won two World Series titles. Albies, also a switch-hitter, has quickly emerged as an upper-echelon second baseman for the Braves. He hit .295 with 24 homers, 43 doubles and eight triples last season.