Mike Trout: Comparing Him to Ichiro Suzuki and Fred Lynn
In what has seemingly become the year of the rookie, Mike Trout's star has been shining just a bit brighter than the rest of the crop.
Baseball fans young and old find themselves enamored with his capabilities and hard-nosed style of play. Trout leaves it all out on the field. Fans notice. The media notices.
His accolades are not being born out of entitlement. He is earning every piece of press that is written about him.
The fact of the matter is, Trout has the potential to do something that only two players have ever accomplished before him: win the Rookie of the Year as well as the Most Valuable Player award in the same season.
Fast forward another 11 years and Trout is knocking on history's door.
The question begging to be answered is, how does Trout stack up against the other two players who have accomplished this feat?
Let's take a look.
The Broad Overview
Looking at each player's rookie season, one thing to key in on when talking about MVP voting is to see exactly how many statistical categories he leads in.
For Fred Lynn, in 1975 he led the American League in runs, doubles slugging and OPS. All stats that show his offensive prowess and importance to his team.
Ichiro led the American League in five categories in 2001: plate appearances, at-bats, hits, stolen bases and batting average. All of which are statistics that show his plate discipline, speed and baseball knowledge in terms of base running, etc.
For Trout, he is currently leading the American League in four categories: runs, stolen bases, batting average and OPS+. These stats are indicative of a very evenly balanced player on the field.
Topping the trio is the impressive batting line being put up this season by Trout. He owns a .344/.406/.599/1.005 line, which has him leading the AL in batting average and third in all of baseball.
His OBP ranks him third in the AL while his SLG is second in the AL, as is his OPS.
In second place, so to speak, comes Fred Lynn. Lynn owned a .331/.401/.566/.967 batting line. He led the league in both SLG and OPS that season, while finishing second in batting average and fifth in OBP.
Ichiro comes in last in terms of batting. He owned a .350/.381/.457/.838 batting line, which is impressive on its own, but pales in comparison to Trout and Lynn.
Ichiro led the AL in batting average in 2001, but he finished 14th in OBP, 40th in SLG and 27th in OPS.
Run Generation: RBI and Runs
When it came to creating runs and scoring runs, Fred Lynn was extremely proficient.
In 1975, he owned a league-leading 103 runs scored, adding 105 RBI, third best in the American League that season.
Ichiro would obviously have to come next, as Trout has not finished the season out yet. Suzuki had 127 runs scored while adding 69 RBI.
His run total was second in the AL that season, while his RBI total landed him comfortably in a two-way tie for 48th in the league.
Trout is already leading the league with 88 runs scored, adding 65 RBI through his first 91 games. To put that in perspective, Lynn played in 145 games in his rookie season, while Ichiro played in 157.
Trout has the potential to finish out the season having played in the ballpark of 140 total games this season. By that theory, he has only played in 65 percent of the games that he will likely play in.
Projected out, that means Trout should finish with somewhere close to 119 runs scored with 87 or so RBI. If that proves to be the case, it will certainly be one of the finest rookie seasons ever.
Hits Hits Hits
Ichiro kills it in the overall category of hits. His 242 in 2001 is still an extremely impressive feat by any player, let alone a rookie.
Lynn would manage 175 hits in his fantastic rookie season.
Trout is at 127 and counting.
Looking a bit deeper, Lynn leads in extra base hits (for now) with 75, adding on a league-leading 47 doubles. Ichiro had just 50 extra-base hits while Trout is already at 48.
In terms of home runs, Trout already has 21, which equals Lynn's total from 1975. Ichiro, well, he's not even in that conversation.
Triples is a whole separate story. The trio are actually quite even in this particular category. Ichiro leads the charge with eight, while Lynn had seven and Trout is already at five.
They did not track BABIP in 1975, so knowing exactly where Lynn stands is a mystery in that regard, but Trout owns a .393 while Irchiro had a .369 in 2001.
Speed on the Bags
Ichiro and Trout share another thing in common, both are stolen base league leaders.
In 2001, Ichiro led the AL with 56 stolen bases while being caught 14 times. That's an 80 percent success rate.
This year, Trout is leading the league in stolen bags with 36, while only being caught three times. That is an even more impressive 92 percent success rate.
Fred Lynn...well, let's just say he tried his best. He had 10 stolen bases, being caught five times.
WAR and WPA
Wins above replacement and win probability are two key factors when looking at sabermetrics and comparing players of different generations facing different competition.
Trout owns a 4.16 WPA and a 7.8 WAR for the 2012 Los Angeles Angels.
Ichiro owns a 3.81 WPA and a 6.1 WAR for the 2001 Seattle Mariners.
Lynn owns a 3.56 WPA and a .7.3 WAR for the 1975 Boston Red Sox.
Even the most casual of sabermetricians know that a higher WPA and WAR is a good thing.
What Does It All Mean?
It all boils down to a very simple truth: Mike Trout is the real deal.
He is a five-tool player that has proven himself offensively and defensively while stealing the headlines on an otherwise star-studded Angels lineup.
There are a few things he will need to accomplish to be lumped in with Ichiro and Lynn historically, however.
Both of the previous ROY/MVP recipients also were All-Star selections and won Gold Gloves, while Ichiro stands alone having won a Silver Slugger award as well.
Trout already has the All-Star bid to his name and is well on his way to obtaining plenty of more hardware for his shelves at home.
In short, yeah, the kid is gonna be in the history books right beside Lynn and Suzuki.