The MLB Network is constantly updating their 25 Players Under 25 list, and they are currently wrapping up the top five. Ronald Acuna has yet to be unveiled, and I imagine he will own one of the top three spots, though he should be first. However, three Braves have already made the list. Ian Anderson came in at #10, Austin Riley somewhat surprisingly was #13, and Ozzie Albies was #17.
To me, Anderson should be a bit higher. He has a sub-three ERA through his first 98.2 innings and already shined under the brightest lights during the postseason; however, I can live with the ranking. Riley is much higher than I would have expected, although the respect is warranted with how he has performed in 2021. The 24-year-old slugger has a .300 batting average, .896 OPS, 11 homers, 27 RBI, and 1.5 WAR this season. He could very easily be the next young Braves star, which is what makes Ozzie Albies ranking so puzzling.
I’m not sure if the people who made these rankings have been paying attention, but unlike Riley and nearly everyone from 11-17, Ozzie Albies is already a star player. Here are some other names that finished in front of Albies:
Ian Anderson was MLB Network’s No. 10 player in their 25 under (age) 25. And Austin Riley (13) and Ozzie Albies (17) weren’t far behind. I’ll be curious to see where they have Acuña later this week. pic.twitter.com/tbWbeuHOHV
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) June 8, 2021
So let’s see, Albies has already accumulated 12.7 WAR in his career and is just 24-years-old. What about the players in front of him above?
Gavin Lux – 23-years-old with a whopping 2.3 career WAR
Trevor Rogers – 23-years-old with a whopping 2.5 career WAR
Luis Robert – 23-years-old with a whopping 2.6 career WAR
Austin Riley — 24-years-old with a whopping 2.0 career WAR (sorry, Austin, I mean no hate)
Jazz Chisholm Jr. – 23-years-old with a whopping 1.1 career WAR
Trent Grisham – 24-years-old with a whopping 5.4 career WAR
Add all of those six players career WAR up, and they barely total a better career WAR than Ozzie Albies by himself — 13.9 to 12.7.
For that reason, and many others, this list is just absurd. I would take Ozzie Albies over all six of them. He may have been injured in 2020 and gotten off to a slow start, but he’s turned it on since late April. In his last 39 games entering yesterday, the Braves’ second baseman has hit .301 with 14 doubles, six homers, and four triples — good for a .929 OPS — all while playing elite defense. But sure, Gavin Lux and his career .667 OPS is a better player. Anyone who believes that should be embarrassed, but it just goes to show how undervalued Albies is around the league.