Even though the Los Angeles Angels continue to fight for one of two American League Wild Card spots, fans in Southern California can't help but marvel at the historic rookie campaign of 21-year-old Mike Trout.
The Angels' phenom is on a torrid pace to shatter multiple franchise records and is in the serious conversation for American League MVP. He's got the Rookie of the Year virtually locked up. No one's come close to him in that department.
Given his other-worldly success in 2012, it stands to reason that 2013 will be another strong season for Trout. But can anyone really expect him to produce at such an incredible rate once again?
Trout is batting an impressive .333 with 74 RBI, 42 stolen bases, 25 home runs and 107 runs scored. How can he build on these numbers and turn 2013 into an improvement? He has to have a ceiling, but fortunately for the Halos, he hasn't yet reached it.
For one, he didn't join the major league club until April of 2012, and he hasn't had time to develop slowly. He's had to produce right away as the Angels were in the midst of a major slump when he almost single-handedly rescued the team from the cellar.
What it all boils down to is that Trout is still human, he's still young and he should improve over time, despite his stellar career beginnings.
2013 Predictions: .315 BA, 89 RBI, 120 runs scored, 43 stolen bases, 34 home runs.
Trout will have a year's worth of looks at major league pitching under his belt when he enters next season. That bodes well for his power numbers. With more pop in his bat will come more long outs and thus a lower batting average. He'll still rank among the league's best in that category as well, however.
But what if he experiences a sophomore slump?
This scenario, while unlikely, is possible. A good case study would be his own teammate, Mark Trumbo. Trumbo had a fantastic rookie year of his own in 2011, hitting .254 with 29 home runs and 87 RBI, and finished second in the voting for AL Rookie of the Year.
In 2012, he's on pace to improve in every one of those categories and has already eclipsed the home run mark from a year ago with 30 through September 3rd. Trout will do the same because he'll have a full year of continuity followed by a spring training where he can focus on improving and not making a roster.
There will be a distinct improvement from Trout, and it will be exciting to see just how well he does given those circumstances.
Michael C. Jones is a Southern-California-based sports journalist and editor. You can read him at Yahoo! Sports, SB Nation and Examiner.com. He is also the Founder / Editor of Sports Out West. To contact Michael, you can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.