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MLB 2016: Now batting for major league baseball: the best crop of rising stars in a generation.
In this year’s MLB Preview, Peter Keating examines how young players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Addison Russell and Carlos Correa are taking over baseball in a piece titled “Better, Faster, Younger.” To help illustrate the shift in players’ peak-performance windows, The Mag dives deep into analytics, studying the past three decades of elite seasons. The result? Young players are producing more great seasons than they have in a generation.
ON THE COVER: Seemingly born with a bat in his hand, Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper was the top draft pick at 17, rookie of the year at 19 and the youngest unanimous MVP ever at 22. In “#Sorrynotsorry,” senior writer Tim Keown brings to life this polarizing player—that style, that attitude, that hair!—and Harper’s mission to change baseball forever.
DON’T MISS: With New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees leading the way, AdvoCare is using its sports ties to build a nutrition empire. But is the company really pushing false hope? By Mina Kimes
MLB Preview Show with Baseball Tonight will air on Thursday, March 17 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN following the Diamondbacks and Cubs. MLB analyst Karl Ravech, Curt Schilling, Tim Kurkjian, and ESPN The Magazine senior writers Tim Keown and Peter Keating will discuss their stories and the youth movement in baseball.
Issue highlights and features:
What Stays in Vegas
The Mag tells the story of Chicago Cubs star (and National League rookie of the year) Kris Bryant through the lens of his father, Mike Bryant, a former ballplayer who worked with his son nearly every day and helped build his child into a star. Mike Bryant, who today runs a clinic in Las Vegas, also helped coach potential Rangers star Joey Gallo. By Robert Sanchez
Scott Boras Will Save You Now
These days, many MLB teams want to get the most out of their young aces—even if that means taking advantage of them early in their careers, before they get hurt or their service time expires. Case in point: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who got to The Show as a 20-year-old. Now, as Fernandez continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery, the 23-year-old has an unlikely hero in his corner: agent Scott Boras, whose aim is to extend the careers of the pitchers he represents. But is it good for baseball? By Sam Miller
The New York Mets’ young starters make up what could be the best rotation from a single farm system in modern baseball history, according to a stat from Baseball Prospectus called wins above replacement—and they’re all signed on the cheap. The Mag compares each starter’s projected future salaries to what his projected production would cost from a similar player in free agency. By Dan Szymborski
After our ESPN.com writers ranked all 30 teams based on how they’ll finish the season, The Mag asked ESPN Insider Dan Szymborski to use his ZiPS system to project each team’s record and division standing. Though not every team lined up the same way, the Cubs were both our writers’ pick at No. 1 and the favorites according to ZiPS, with a 10.2 percent chance of winning the World Series.
Also in this issue:
- NCAA: The Mag previews the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments, from how potential player of the year Buddy Hield projects out to whether the UConn women will win again (probably) to which giants will fall, thanks to the randomness already running rampant this season. Also, Scott Van Pelt and Jay Williams discuss whether talent or experience matters more in the Final Four. By Rachel Ullrich
- NCAA: The automatic-bid process is keeping strong mid-majors out of the NCAA tournament. Mid-majors with robust regular seasons that stumble in their conference tournaments (whose winners automatically make the NCAA tourney) are routinely left out—which is the case again this year. By Peter Keating
- NBA: Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan talks about his relationship with teammate Chris Paul, along with an offseason that featured free agency drama. By Sam Alipour