Has The Mike Trout Love Gone Too Far?



I could probably end this post now but I’m going to continue on. Feel free to leave, I already got your pageview. Sucker. Mike Trout has been getting some incredible love from his teammates and baseball scribes. While Bryce Harper is getting most of the mainstream hype, Trout has been the better uber-prospect so far. Trout has actually been so good he’s finding himself in early MVP discussions and being compared to a pretty good Hall of Fame player.

Torii Hunter was named co-AL Player of the Week with and because of Trout. Hunter has been crushing the ball since he moved into the two-hole. Why? Pitchers are usually working from the stretch since Trout is constantly on base and a threat to steal. Hunter was the one who threw the tough-to-live-up-to comp in Trout’s direction

"“He has the makings of a Rickey (Henderson),” Hunter said. “The kid is 20, but it seems like he’s been around a long time. He has plate discipline, works counts, hits for average, hits with power, steals bases … you can’t beat that.“What’s he gonna be doing when he turns 25, and (the cost of) his insurance goes down? He can’t even rent a car for five more years. Unbelievable. Give him time, and he’ll be Rickey.”"

Rickey Henderson was the greatest lead-off hitter in the history of baseball. The Angels lead-off hitter is 81 games into his Major League career. But his 41 games in 2012 as a 20-year-old? Well, they’ve been nothing short of amazing. How amazing I’ll pretend you ask? ESPN senior writer, Jayson Stark, was asked a version of that question during his Monday chat

"Ryan (LA)True or False, Mike Trout is a top 10 player in the league already?Jayson Stark (12:11 PM)True. Absolutely. Since the Angels called him up, he’s reached base more times than anyone in the league, scored more runs and stolen more bases than anyone in the league. And the only other 20-year-old in history who can match his slash line is ARod, once upon a time. Mike Trout is an impact player. Right now. Not even sure why there’s a debate."

Yeah, let’s go to those stats. In the past 30 days, Trout leads baseball, all of baseball, with a 2.3 fWAR (Fangraphs wins above replacement) followed by 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto‘s 2.0 fWAR. By the way, in those 30 days, Albert Pujols is fifth with a 1.7 fWAR.

Trout has six home runs, 13 stolen bases and a .345/.406/.552 slash line in 187 plate appearances. If those were enough plate appearances to qualify with the league leaders, his 3.1 fWAR would be sixth in baseball behind Votto (3.9), David Wright (3.7), Michael Bourn (3.6), Josh Hamilton (3.5) and Adam Jones (3.5). Of those guys, Wright has the fewest plate appearances with 251. That 80 grade speed thing seems legit too. Trout’s 15 steals is tied for the AL lead with Jason Kipnis who has 83 more plate appearances this season.

Should we put Trout in the Hall of Fame tomorrow? Of course not. Should he be in the MVP discussion if he keeps this up? Absolutely. Has the love gone too far? Not even close. ZiPS project Trout to hit 15 home runs, steal 39 bases and finish with a .300/.368/.471 slash line. Do you know how many 20-year-olds have hit 15 homers, stolen 30 bases with a .300 average and .350 on base? Zero.

There is still a lot of baseball to play this season and for the rest of Trout’s career. But it’s fun to dream and he certainly looks like a great one. The five best seasons by 20-year-olds according to rWAR (Baseball-Reference wins above replacement, slightly different from fWAR, google it) are Alex Rodriguez, Al Kaline, Mel Ott, Ted Williams and Ty Cobb. Can Trout join that rather elite group? I don’t know but it’s going to fun to watch.