Growing up, Pokémon was like crack for sixth graders. The trading cards, the video games, the TV show, and the movies were all just various ways for a pre-pubescent 11-year old to get their fix. Now, for those who had the OG red and blue versions, you remember how the game starts: you go to Prof. Oak’s lab and you have to choose one of three Pokémon. Each had their positives and negatives, but no matter who you picked, your jackass rival always picked the one with the early advantage. Such a pussy. (By the way, if you picked Bulbasaur, you probably don’t know how to communicate with the opposite sex.) But anyways, why am I waxing nostalgic about a Japanese trading card game on a sports website? As the NL East stands now, there are three premier corner outfielders under the age of 23. They are in the first stage of their careers and have yet to truly “evolve” into the players they have the potential of becoming. I recently took a quick Twitter poll (@ColeyMick) simply asking who you would rather have heading forward: Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward, or Bryce Harper? The results kind of surprised me.
According to the 10 responses I received, Stanton was the most sought after with six. Now, I’m fairly confident this had plenty to do with the moonshots he blasted this week, but at the same time Stanton is certainly a solid pick. Out of the three, he is the most established. Through 295 games, Stanton has 67 homers and 180 RBI. He holds a .529 slugging percentage with a .875 OPS. Even with a weak April this season, he has 11 jacks, 34 RBI, 25 runs, and a .289 average. Stanton turns 23 in November, meaning he’s still about five years away from his prime, which is a terrifying prospect.
Second place was a strange, strange response. I got two votes for Mike Trout. Yes, two. Apparently, a few wisenheimers didn’t fully understand the premise of my question. I have nothing against Trout, who may in fact be the most talented out of the group. He is a true five tool player who should benefit greatly from hitting in front of Albert Pujols for the next decade. But, he does not play in the NL East, alas he is disqualified from the conversation. Sorry, Trout.
With one vote a piece, Heyward and Harper rounded out the ten responses. This was shocking to me for two reasons. First, I honestly did not expect Heyward to get any love. While he had a great rookie season, his sophomore slump was all sorts of disappointing. Yes, he has bounced back nicely this season, but I figured recent memory of Heyward would be his downfall in this poll. Turns out, just as many person has as much faith in J-Hey heading forward as Harper. Which is the second thing that surprised me.
Harper has been the most hyped position player since God knows when. He is also the youngest out of the group and with his production to this point, I’m surprised only our very own K.M. Venne chose the phenom. He is the first teenager since Ken Griffey, Jr. to homer in consecutive games. I get the Stanton pick, I really do. Giancarlo is a monster who wallops balls as if they insulted his mother. But one pick for Cole Hamels sworn enemy? That I just can’t wrap my head around.
Regardless, these three are sure to dominate the NL East for the next decade at the bare minimum. Each has a unique set of skills and all three can absolutely mash. While the NL East is littered with a litany of top notch arms, these bats will be certain to steal the spotlight on numerous occasions. After all, chicks do dig the long ball.