I love fantasy baseball. I live for the draft. To me, it is the place to gamble, plan for the season ahead, and take risks. However, for the past three years, I have been in a fantasy slump. In fact, I have taken too many risks. This year, the trend continued as I tried to get Bryce Harper in the early teen rounds. Harper, the wunderkind, was supposed to be baseball’s next big thing. Harper, along with my severe need/disability to select relievers in rounds 8-11, has undone me. So, I stashed Harper on the bench in all my leagues. I was sure this was the year he would make a big splash. Harper did make a big splash this summer. But, Bryce Harper is no Mike Trout…not even close.
Trout was selected with the 25th pick by Los Angeles of Anaheim in the first round of the 2009 draft. A draft class that featured Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Drew Storen, Mike Leake, and Zach Wheeler, Trout was not the first in his class to make it the show. In 2011, Trout made his major league debut at the age of 19. It did not go well. In 40 games, Trout was a disappointment batting .220 with 5 home runs, 16 runs batted in, and 4 stolen bases. In addition his wins above replacement (WAR) was a paltry 0.6 while carrying a .281 on base percentage and a slugging percentage of .390. Trout did not stay in the majors long so he still maintains his rookie status heading into 2012. It was thought he would need another year of seasoning and in 2013 he would be ready. As a result of this less than auspicious debut in 2011, Trout was not even on my radar in the fantasy drafts this past spring. That was a huge mistake.
When the Angels got off to a poor start after the Albert Pujols signing, Trout was called up on April 28. He went 0-4 in his 2012 debut. Since then, he has had one of the most historic seasons in baseball history. In 103 games, Trout has batted .341 with 24 home runs and 72 runs batted in. He has stolen 41 bases while scoring 99 runs. In the field, he has played a sparkling center field. He has become a nightly fixture on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight’s Web Gems segment.
Trout has been in the discussion for both the Rookie of the Year Award in the American League and the Most Valuable Player Award. Historically, what Trout has done at the plate has been accomplished before. However, it would take about 3 different people to do what one Mike Trout has done. In addition to his power, Trout has shown great speed and base running skills along with a great arm and fielding skills. He truly is the five tool guy.
The name most baseball writers compare Trout to is Mickey Mantle. Mantle was a switch hitting center fielder who came up at a similar age to Trout and displayed the same skill set as Trout. However, statistically, Trout blows away Mickey’s early years, statistically speaking. Fred Lynn won both the Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season in 1975. While Trout might be in both awards discussion like Lynn, Trout’s statistics far out pace those of Lynn. Mark McGwire hit 49 home runs his rookie season, but he was a one-dimensional player. The most apt comparison at the plate is Alex Rodriguez. Though A Rod played parts of two seasons before he played 146, his statistics are eerily similar to those of Trout except in stolen bases or rbis.
|Mike Trout (103 games)||341||24||72||41||405||8.9|
|Mickey Mantle (96 games)||311||13||65||4||394||1.3|
|Alex Rodriguez (146 games)||358||36||123||15||414||9.2|
Another apt comparison is Willie Mays. In 1951, Mays played 121 games and batted 274 with 20 home runs, 68 rbis, and 7 stolen bases. Willie was 20. After Willie Mays returned from a year of military service in 1953, He hit 345 with 41 homers, a 110 rbis, a 411 obp, and a rating for 10.3. Like ARod’s stats, they are almost identical except for stolen bases and homers. Joe Dimaggio’s 1936 season is almost identical to Trout’s except for stolen bases. In 138 games,Joe hit 29 hrs, 125 rbis, 4 sb, 323 average with a 352 obp and war of 4.6.
The interesting aspect to ARod, Willie, and Joe’s careers was they would all get batter and peak in their late 20s. Trout, only 21, has his best seasons ahead of him. When this baseball season ends, Trout and the Angels will most likely not make the playoffs. Unless Trout can pitch 3 out of 5 nights, the Angels will not catch the Rangers or the A’s. Next year, I might pick Trout first if I get the number one pick. No, I should.