The MLB 2012 season proved to be one that would change the landscape of baseball for a long time. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, both 19 at the time, became full-time starters for their respective teams. Not only were they beginning their MLB careers at the same time, they both won Rookie of the Year awards that season; they’ve both won MVP awards; and they both play in the outfield.
Hence, baseball fans and analysts alike have always compared the two studs, which is completely asinine. Despite Harper’s tremendous power (Hunter Strickland still sucks), he has not lived up to the promise of the once-in-a-lifetime player he was supposed to be. He’s batting .218 this year — his contract year. Harper is going to have to change something fast if he wants to lock in the $400 million contract he’s looking to sign. While Harper, a five-time All-Star, has been a solid cornerstone of the Nats’ offense for many years now, with his current production, he’s certainly not worth $400 million.
Instead of focusing on someone like Harper as the face of baseball, it’s time we give Mike Trout the respect he deserves. Not only has Trout led Wins Above Replacement (WAR), a stat made to evaluate a player’s overall ability, since 2012, but he has won two MVPs (2014, 2016), five silver sluggers, and has a .306 career batting average. Oh, and he’s 26 years old.
This year, Trout has been doing nothing but crushing anything pitchers throw at him. Through 80 games, he’s on pace to hit a career-high 47 home runs, has a batting average of .312, and has a whopping .455 on-base percentage (OBP). Also, he’s the only one who can do both of these things on the baseball field:
Trout has been performing at an MVP-level while carrying a very subpar Los Angeles Angels team. Outside of Andrelton Simmons and rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani, no everyday player is hitting above .250 on the squad. When you add in the fact that they have no quality, consistent pitchers on their staff, you see a team that just doesn’t have enough talent on their roster. Still, the Angels sit one game above .500 in an American League stacked with elite teams. One player can only can carry a team on their back for so long.
At this point in his career (8th year), no one can doubt Trout’s ability to play baseball at the highest level possible. He’s a stud who is, based off of the eye test, arguably the best at every baseball fundamental tool: speed, power, hitting for average, fielding, and arm strength. He can do things on the baseball field that seem physically impossible; however, it’s necessary that we appreciate greatness as it is happening before our eyes.
Mike Trout is on pace for historically great numbers. In fact, if you look at his stats up to date, he’s considered an average Hall of Famer. Interestingly enough, Trout doesn’t even seem to care about any of it. Amongst his friends and teammates, he’s known as very humble, down-to-earth guy who is liked by everyone. Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian described it perfectly: “He goes about his business, day in and day out. You know he’s going to put on a show, and there’s just something special about him.”
In a day and age where egos are constantly taking over sports and social media, Trout finds a way to remain even-keeled. That is why you must watch him even if the Angels are not a playoff-caliber team. We are watching possibly the greatest player of our generation, yet he doesn’t have the arrogant ego of someone who wants to be famous. He just wants to be liked.