- Dave Cameron, FanGraphs
Every major league team wants to win, but at the same time, each organization has to constantly balance maximizing wins in the present with maintaining a stockpile of talent and financial flexibility for the future. Loading up on expensive veterans might have a short-term payoff, but in time, those old players aren't going to be enough to sustain a competitive team, and if those players are making big money in their decline years, things can get ugly in a hurry; just ask the Phillies.
However, some organizations have figured out how to both contend and build for the future at the same time. In order to look at which teams have done the best job of getting value from young talent that they can build around in the future, I've broken down every team's total FanGraphs WAR into three age groups: young players (25 and under), players in their primes (26-31), and aging veterans (32 and up).
Today, we're going to focus on the teams that have gotten the most value from players no older than 25, giving them a core nucleus to build around both now and in the future.
1. Atlanta Braves | 24 WAR
The Braves are destroying every other team in baseball in production from young talent this season, and they boast perhaps the best crop of young big leaguers in the entire game. On the position-player side, they are led by 24-year-olds Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. The "old guy" in the middle of their order is Justin Upton, who played most of the year at 25 before turning 26 on Aug. 25. Their rotation boasts both Mike Minor (25) and Julio Teheran (22), while Alex Wood (22) has provided value both as a starter and a reliever. Oh, and they have some guy named Craig Kimbrel (25) who is OK at closing out games.
Dave Cameron looks at the five teams getting the most production from young players, and explains why the Braves are on the verge of a dynasty.