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Young Guardians face Yankees in Division Series

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CLEVELAND—How old are the Cleveland Guardians teams arriving in New York City for Game 1 of the Division Series on Tuesday night?

The Guardians fielded 17 rookies this year, equaling the club record for rookie debuts set in 1912 and matched in 1914. 15th place held by the Detroit Tigers in 2014.

In terms of average age, this Cleveland team is the youngest team in the majors, and in many ways it is unmatched. The average age of hitters for Cleveland is 25.9, making him over a year younger than the next closest team, Kansas City (27.1). The average age of Guardian pitchers is 26.3, just one year younger than the average age of Kansas City and Pittsburgh (27.3).

In fact, in the AAA class, which averages 26.5 for hitters and 27.1 for pitchers, they were younger than the average age this summer.

Rarely has such an extreme investment in young players paid off so spectacularly.

Terry Francona, who has coached the major leagues for 22 years, said, “Every time you go through something, you go through something for the first time, so it felt a little different throughout the year.” But when veteran players go through tough times, they have something to lean on.These guys are doing it as they learn.They’ve done a pretty good job of it.”

Francona and his staff began laying the groundwork earlier this spring.

“Watching them play like veterans is exceptional,” said general manager Mike Chernov. “They don’t play like young teams. And I attribute it all to Tito,” he said, referring to Francona.

Francona made a point earlier this year to talk to veteran slugger Jose Ramirez and shortstop Amed Rosario, Chernov said. You have to maintain that baseline first, use up all the balls, and back up the base. José was leaving the office. He just said, “Tito, got it.”

“Since that day, they set an example and everyone just follows.”

Right fielder Oscar Gonzales’ walk-up music is the theme of “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Not occasionally. every time. Gonzalez, the hero of Saturday’s game when he hit a walk-off home run in the 15th inning, put on a baby face to match the music choices he uses because kids love singing and baseball is a kid’s game. It was sublime to hear Progressive Field’s near-capacity crowd of 34,971 yell the chorus of “SpongeBob” on Saturday.

The team’s leadoff man, Stephen Kwan, started the team chess club earlier this season. This was the highest batting average by a Cleveland rookie since Dobby in the 1948 rally. Kwan also collected the most hits (168) by a Cleveland rookie since Hull’s Trosky in 1934 (206).

Second baseman Andres Jimenez became the youngest Cleveland player to start an All-Star Game since Bob Feller (22 years, 248 days) in 1941. And Jimenez, who turned 24 on Sept. 4, is no fluke as he’s second only to Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels in wins over substitutes this season, according to Baseball Reference. proved.

All-Star closer Emmanuel Krace became the youngest player in club history to record a postseason save in Friday’s playoff opener against Tampa Bay at the age of 24 years and 203 days.

Saturday’s designated hitter, Will Brennan, made his major league debut on Sept. 21 after leading minor league baseball with 166 hits this summer.

The Guardian envisioned the youth part of this team last winter, even if they couldn’t imagine the amazing success.

“I wanted to create opportunities for young players,” Chernov said. “I felt like that was where our team belonged. Last year he had 80 wins and there was a lot of talent in the system.”

As such, the staff faced some difficult decisions as they moved forward.

“Are you going to add a year of free agency to the team here and make the trade by the deadline?” Chernov said. “Or let the younger players play and see what happens? We went for the latter, but we’ve had a really breakout season with Steven Kwan, Jimenez, Emmanuel Claes and others. I’ve seen the players, they really stepped up and did a great job.

Chernoff and the team’s president of baseball operations, Chris Antonetti, along with top special assistants and various scouts such as Steve Lubratich, Dave Malpass, and Tom Wiedenbauer, are not just talented but passionate about the culture of baseball. We are also looking for contributing players. team.

“We don’t just focus on developing baseball skills, we focus on developing great people who can make good decisions on the field and ultimately become leaders. I am,” Chernov said.

The Guardians play an aggressive, throwback style of baseball, largely because they tailored the game to their roster. They hit his second fewest home runs in the majors this year, but his 119 stolen bases ranked him third. They put the ball to good use, led the majors with an 80.8 percent contact rate, and had the fewest strikeouts of any other team. They take long bases and hit and run like anyone else. They bunt when needed. They celebrate the sacrifice fly.

And they are smiling all the time. Kwan, a fifth-round pick by Cleveland in 2018 from Oregon, said it reminded him of the college ball in some ways.

“It might be a little cheesy, but first and foremost, it’s a way of attracting each other,” Kwan said. “When I was underage, I heard that major league ball can be really selfish. It’s business first and baseball second, so you have to look after yourself.” But it’s not like that here.We really pull each other.I want each of us to succeed.”

Francona also gathered the team to talk just before the playoffs started, as he did earlier in the season.

“Like a season with ups and downs, we said it’s going to happen in a short series,” Francona said after a 1-0 clincher against the Rays on Saturday. Keep playing, and they’ve done a really good job of it, because there was a lot of frustration on both sides.

In fact, before sweeping the Rays in the Wild Card Series, the Guardians only had postseason experience with a total of 42 games to match their roster. and 25 were by third baseman Ramirez, the team’s slugger.

The total could have been higher, but it dropped significantly when the club designated reliever Brian Shaw to the quota in the final week of the season. Appeared in 753 games throughout his career, including 519 with Cleveland. He also made 15 postseason appearances for Cleveland from 2013 to 2017.

“The guys were joking around, looking for Brian Shaw, trying to figure out what to do if they won or lost,” said starter Cal Quantrill. “It’s like no one has ever done it before.”

Seriously, Quantrill added that what he noticed this month was the energy.

“It’s hard to imagine another team with this kind of energy late in the season,” he said. Players will continue to show up here before they leave.”

Just as they continued to appear on the winning streak this year.

“The energy in that clubhouse is totally different,” said starter Shane Bieber. “I think it’s a very loving, competitive energy. As long as you keep it up, you tend to pull each other, trust each other, get the upper hand, and take advantage of the situation.”