Trout, Harper headline major league youth movement
Mike Trout turned 24 on Friday, an occasion marked by another round of discussion about how he'll measure up alongside the game's all-time greats if he keeps up his current pace.
Trout is having another remarkable season at the plate, with a .302 average, 33 home runs, 69 RBIs and an OPS of 1.002. A lot can happen between now and the end of the season, but Trout is certainly a candidate to pick up his second consecutive MVP award.
If Trout and Bryce Harper are the two MVPs, they would be the youngest pair of MVPs in major league history. Harper turns 23 in October.
If you go by a player's age at the end of the regular season, the only time two players 24 and under both won the MVP was back in 1927, according to STATS. Lou Gehrig and Paul Waner, both 24, did it.
Trout and Harper are at the forefront of a dazzling youth movement in baseball, with new stars emerging all over the major leagues. To illustrate that, here's an entire lineup of players born in the 1990s. We can call this team the Hootie and the Blowfish All-Stars:
SS -- Carlos Correa, Astros
OF -- Bryce Harper, Nationals
OF -- Mike Trout, Angels
Only at first base is there no truly outstanding candidate, and there is a significant overflow at other positions, with Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Xander Bogaerts, Joc Pederson, Joe Panik, Shelby Miller and Jose Fernandez among others meriting consideration.
Trout and Harper should have plenty of company as the sport's headliners in the years to come.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
ON A ROLL
The New York Mets took over first place in the NL East with a seven-game winning streak that began the day they acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline. There are some similarities between the Mets and last year's Kansas City Royals. Both teams had success despite being limited offensively - the Royals with speed, defense and their bullpen, and the Mets with their terrific young rotation.
Like the 2014 Royals, New York will try to take advantage of a soft schedule down the stretch, but Washington still looms in the division, only 1 1/2 games back, while the Pirates, Cubs and Giants look tough in the race for the wild cards.
At the other end of the NL East, there's an unfamiliar sight: The Phillies aren't in last place anymore. Philadelphia was 10 games behind the fourth-place Marlins at the All-Star break, but the Phillies are 16-5 since then and have knocked Miami into the cellar.
The Nationals dropped Doug Fister from their starting rotation when Stephen Strasburg returned from the disabled list. That means Joe Ross, who has a 2.80 ERA in seven starts, remains in the rotation and looks like a solid fantasy option going forward.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Carlos Carrasco, Indians, allowed one hit in nine scoreless innings against the Angels on Tuesday - Cleveland went on to win 2-0 in 12. There's no sugar coating what a disappointing season it's been for the Indians, who came into 2015 as plausible favorites to win the AL Central but are instead in last place.
For all the team's struggles, Cleveland's pitching staff does still lead the majors in strikeouts. Carrasco has 147 in 136 1/3 innings.