Angels' Mike Trout: The Phenom Who May Be the MLB's Best
The Los Angeles Angels assumed the best player in baseball would wear the halo cap in 2012.
That was after they inked three-time MVP Albert Pujols to a $240 million deal.
Turns out their aspirations have become reality, but it has been someone other than El Hombre who has been "the man" for the Angels this season.
Instead it is 20-year-old rookie sensation Mike Trout, who has many considering him the top player in the game today.
Trout ranks tops in the AL with a .357 batting average, and 1st in MLB with 31 stolen bases and 70 runs scored.
After leading off Sunday's game against Texas with a triple, Trout scored on a Pujols' double—crossing the plate for the 14th consecutive game, setting the AL rookie record and passing Jim Edmonds' stretch of 13 straight for the franchise record.
The young stud has also shown flashes of power and Gold Glove defense, rounding out the arsenal of the league's best five-tool player. Trout's 15 home runs rank third on the team to sluggers Pujols and Mark Trumbo.
In addition, Trout has been a highlight reel in the outfield, coming up with the catch of the year by robbing J.J. Hardy of a home run in Baltimore.
While early attention was focused on Washington's Bryce Harper for the top rookie in baseball, Trout's explosion onto the scene has made this argument unworthy of discussion.
The question should be: "Is Trout the best player in baseball right now?"
Not often is such a question asked about a player who isn't even old enough to buy a beer, but there is no doubt his numbers are deserving of a toast.
According to baseballreference.com, Trout ranks first in the MLB with a WAR (wins above replacement) of 5.8—showing him to be the early favorite for AL MVP.
With his versatility and laundry list of ways to give opponents headaches, Trout is without question the most dangerous player in the game. Unfortunately for his counterparts, he is only getting better.
Trout is hitting .415 with seven home runs and an on-base percentage of .459 in the month of July—his best monthly totals to date.
In a recent article on ESPNLosAngeles.com, Trout modestly described his performance, saying: "I just feel comfortable at the plate, getting good pitches to hit and putting good swings on them, squaring them up."
Not since Ken Griffey Jr. has a 20-year-old made such an impact. In his second season in the big leagues, Griffey hit .300 with 22 home runs and 80 RBIs. But not even those numbers eclipse what Trout is doing in the game right now.
Who is the MLB's best player?
Others have turned the clocks way back, comparing Trout to a young Mickey Mantle. Bleacher Report's own James Morisette dissected the comparison, looking at the outfielders' first 405 at-bats of their careers.
With more home runs and stolen bases, in addition to a higher batting average and on-base percentage, Trout compared favorably to Mantle during the time period.
But in the spirit of not upsetting the baseball gods, Trout still has a long way to go to be considered Mantle-esque.
With Trout, Trumbo, Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Matt Kemp, among others, there is undoubtedly a youth movement going on in baseball. Look for Trout to continue to lead the way.
Only two players, Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Fred Lynn (1975), have won Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season.
Trout will become No. 3 by season's end, cementing himself as the new young face of baseball.
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