Young Stars Dominate the Athletic Arena

Aleck Ryner

In sports, everyone is always trying to find the “next big thing.” Young superstars are exciting and they help every sports’ fan bases. The fans want to see players do amazing things in their early twenties, that nobody could even fathom doing. Every sport relies on these young stars, and in this issue of the Mirador, we will be taking a look at the best young superstars of baseball, basketball and football.

Baseball: Already one of the bay area’s best and most recognizable athletes is San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey. The 2010 Rookie of the Year winner led the Giants to their first World Series win since 1954 and was the best player in what many people have called the best rookie class in history.

The 23-year-old possesses a potent bat, evident by his .305 batting average and 18 home runs in only 108 games. However, not many people take his defense into account. Posey was sent to the minors in the beginning of the season because he needed time to improve behind the plate, but he proved his critics wrong when he came up, throwing out 37% of would-be base stealers.

Perhaps equally recognizable as Posey is Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward. The 21-year-old man-child proved he belonged in the majors in his very first at bat when he crushed a Carlos Zambrano fastball 476 feet, the fourth longest home run of the year. Although he hit only .277, you have to realize that he is just three years removed from high school, and at the time of his major league debut wasn’t even 21.

Heyward and Posey even squared off in this year’s division series, with Posey’s Giants getting the best of  Heyward’s Braves in four games. I think it’s safe to say we can expect more of these battles in the future.

Other notables include Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, the first player to debut who was born in the 1990’s, Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who recorded 40 saves this year, and Marlin’s outfielder Mike Stanton, who bashed 22 home runs in only 100 games at the age of 20.

Football: In football, you won’t necessarily have to wait for the new young stars to hit the show, as many will still be playing college ball next year. Perhaps the best of the bunch is Stanford star quarterback Andrew Luck. If he had declared for this year’s draft, he would have been the consensus number one draft pick. He and Jim Harbaugh led the team to an Orange Bowl victory, but that will likely only be a small notch on Luck’s greatest moments when all is said and done.

A relatively unknown star is Patriot’s 23-year-old cornerback Devin McCourty. He was overshadowed coming into last year’s draft by Joe Haden, Kareem Jackson and Kyle Wilson, but outperformed all of them during the season, recording seven interceptions. McCourty, a rookie of the year candidate, earned himself a pro-bowl trip and is just another reason why the Patriots are widely considered an outstanding drafting team.

Other notables include Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who nearly led his team to the playoffs, and Ndamukong Suh, who was a defensive force this year for the improving Lions.

Basketball: The two biggest rising starts in basketball are Clippers 21-year-old power forward Blake Griffin and Wizards 20-year-old point guard John Wall. Griffin’s Clippers have made huge strides in the last month, and it is largely due to Griffin’s dominance on both ends of the court. He is putting up huge rookie numbers, posting nearly 22 points and 13 rebounds per game. So far he is the clear favorite for Rookie of the Year in the NBA, and if you want to see an amazing highlight reel, I suggest typing Blake Griffin into Youtube.

In limited action so far, Wall has proved why he was drafted first overall last year. He is averaging almost 16 points and nine assists per game for the lowly Wizards and is pretty much their only bright spot. Think Derek Rose but bigger and stronger. These two have a chance to put up amazing numbers for a long time to come.

Other notables include Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who is amazingly improving in nearly every category from his rookie season, and Brandon Jennings, a 5’11” point guard with incredible playmaking ability who plays for the Bucks.