When putting together our list of the top 100 players of all time, there were plenty of debates about how peak performance and career longevity intersected. For young players in particular, injuries can completely shift a career's trajectory and alter legacies -- as Pete Reiser, J.R. Richard and others learned. Nolan Ryan, Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken are all-time greats because they were great -- but also because they were fortunate enough to stay on the field for many years.
What does that mean for the young stars of today? What Juan Soto has accomplished so far is extraordinary, almost unprecedented, and it has placed him on a career trajectory of an all-time great. We can hope that this continues for him, for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the best of baseball's other youngsters, as they follow the flight paths of some of their diamond ancestors.
I asked Sarah Langs for help in finding the best historical comparisons for the youngest generation of stars (for the purpose of this exercise, age 27 or younger) who might one day be part of the conversation for the top 100 players.
The List: 100-51 | 50-26 | 25-1
Key links: Full rankings | Snubs | Debating our selections
Doolittle: The difficult case of Oscar Charleston