By now, the baseball universe (and sports world in general) is well versed in the already-present youth movement that’s struck America’s pastime. That movement reached its peak in Tuesday’s All-Star game, with a record 20 of the 76 total players selected being under the age of 25.
But in a different sport, baseball’s top rival in putting you to sleep on Sunday afternoon, another youth movement has broken down enemy lines and stormed the beaches of relevance.
We’re talking about golf, of course.
Far in the rearview mirror are the days of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. While still competitive, they’re not the future. Hell, they’re barely even the present.
The PGA and its fans now live in the age of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Similarly, Major League Baseball is in an age headlined by Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Giancarlo Stanton and Chicago’s own Kris Bryant.
After talking with two buddies about these simultaneous youth movements, it got us to thinking – who correlates to who in baseball and golf?
With the British Open teeing off Thursday morning and baseball on its All-Star break, there’s no better time to play the comparison game.
While the initial inspiration came from the overlapping contingents of young talent in the PGA and MLB, we couldn’t resist doing a few vets. And Chicago, obviously.
Mike Trout and Jordan Spieth
Without a doubt, these two are the brightest stars in their sports right now. Trout (23) and Spieth (21) already have the accolades to prove it, and a scary amount of time to add more.
Bryce Harper and Dustin Johnson
Relatively, Dustin Johnson is a tad older than Harper – but the personality and game similarities are eerily close. Good looking, ultra talented, and sometimes too competitive for their own good – both Bryce and DJ have enjoyed breakout seasons in 2015.
Clayton Kershaw and Rory McIlroy
In all reality, Rory could easily be compared to either Harper or Trout. But think about this: Despite only being 26 and 27 respectively, both Rory and Kershaw feel like they’ve been around for decades. And they’ve both been dominant the entire time.
Andrew McCutchen and Zach Johnson
The models of consistency. Andrew McCutchen makes his living in Pittsburgh while Zach Johnson is from the humble state of Iowa. Both have reached the individual pinnacle of their sports, with a Masters win for Johnson and an NL MVP award for McCutchen. Both go about their business quietly and do it with the utmost respect for the game.
Joc Peterson and Tony Finau
“Raw talent” accurately describes these two powerful rookies. Both athletes have earned their reputations as big hitters, and both have holes in other portions of their game. Either way, the talent is clearly there for each to make a lengthy career in their sport – and dazzle fans with bombs for just as long.
Carlos Correa and Justin Thomas
Carlos Correa can’t even drink a beer legally in the United States, and Justin Thomas has been able to for about a year now. 2015 has seen Correa break into the big leagues with a bang and Thomas break into the Top 100 of the World Golf Rankings. Expect the two to be mainstays atop their respective leaderboards in the coming decades.
The Wily Vets
Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Woods
Easiest comparison on this entire list.
We love to hate them and hate to love them.
David Wright and Sergio Garcia
Two very good – not necessarily great – athletes who never reached the individual peak of their sport and essentially played little brother to a higher persona.
New York Mets icon David Wright, with four Top-10 finishes for NL MVP, and Sergio Garcia, with 19 fruitless Top-10 finishes in major tournaments, never quite got out of the shadows of the Yankees and Tiger Woods, respectively.
Albert Pujols and Phil Mickelson
Forget the obvious righty-lefty and physique differences between Phil and Albert, these two have been part of baseball and golf’s elite for the past 10-15 years.
While Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez have been the true faces of each sport during that time period, Albert and Phil have always been right there.
Yadier Molina and Jason Dufner
The first thing that comes to mind when you compare Yadi and Dufner is the dramatic weight loss both players have incurred recently. But on the actual playing surface(s), these are two very good players who have probably outplayed their natural talent levels en route to long careers.
Hunter Pence and Bubba Watson
The ministers of unorthodox approaches and being overall quirky dudes. Bubba Watson is golf’s outlier, having never taken a golf lesson. Meanwhile, Hunter Pence swings a baseball bat like a tyrannosaurus rex would. Nonetheless, both have won championships and we love them for their oddities.
Chicago’s Very Own
Kris Bryant and Rickie Fowler
This comparison will make any Cubs fan as happy as getting lost in either athlete’s dreamy ocean blue eyes. Bryant and Fowler are both incredibly talented, but it’s their marketability that really makes this comparison stick.
Anthony Rizzo and Jason Day
Both Rizzo and Day exemplify high levels of character on and off the playing fields, and both have left little doubt about their spot among baseball and golf’s elite. At 25 and 27, each would be a safe bet to take home their first MVP and major championship soon.
Jake Arrieta and Jimmy Walker
Arrieta and Walker are two players who’ve always possessed the talent but took a while to adjust to the speed of the professional game. However, both of their professional careers are peaking in 2015.
Chris Sale and Justin Rose
Chris Sale is a difficult comparison because he’s so unique in his rise and establishment as a great baseball pitcher. Justin Rose is the PGA’s closest comparison, continually playing amongst golf’s elite but doing it primarily under-the-radar. Rose finally busted through for his first major in 2013, and it should only be a matter of time for Sale’s first Cy Young.
Jose Abreu and Hideki Matsuyama
If you want to compare two athletes who made a name for themselves overseas and then burst onto the American sporting scene with a bang, don’t look much further than Jose Abreu and Hideki Matsuyama.
Brian Lendino and Peter Hahn