Is Mike Trout Already the Best Player in Baseball?
There has never been a rookie player like Mike Trout. This is not Trout's first taste of the MLB, as he got a short stint in the 2011 season where he struggled. However, ever since getting called up again on April 28th, he's been the most fun player to watch in the game.
He leads all of baseball with 86 runs (which is 8 more then the second highest, Ian Kinsler, who has been playing since opening day), stolen bases with 36, and leads the American League with a .348 batting average. Trout also has 19 home runs, a .411 OBP, and an amazing 1.009 OPS. All of this while not starting a game until late April.
There has never been a player who has come on this strong before, and there probably never will again. The question that people are starting to wonder, is Mike Trout already the best player in baseball? I'm going to tell you, I think there is good chance that he already is.
I remember reading a Buster Olney column in May that you can read here, where a talent evaluator said that Mike Trout will be the best player in baseball by the end of the season, or by the end of next season. First of all, that talent evaluator needs a raise. Second of all, it's time to see if he's already reached that status.
Mike Trout is the perfect example of a five tool player, so lets compare him with some other five tool studs in the big leagues. Matt Kemp was on pace for another amazing season before his lingering hamstring injuries took a toll. Kemp hit .324 with 39 homers, 126 RBIs, 40 stolen bases, 115 runs, and a .985 OPS in 2011. Mike Trout is on pace to have a better batting average, runs, stolen bases, and OPS than Kemp's sensational campaign. Trout doesn't swing for the fences as much as Kemp, but they both strike out a fair amount. I give Trout the slight edge due to Kemp's injury problems this year.
Andrew McCutchen is having a career year in 2012. Most likely the front-runner for National League MVP, Mccutchen is hitting .369 with 23 home runs, 67 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, 75 runs, and a 1.055 OPS. This year his batting average is almost 100 points higher than his prior career high (.286). McCutchen's career high in stolen bases has already been topped by Trout this year, and Trout also has a chance of having better stats in almost every category than Andrew. Granted, McCutchen is a great player, but this is a career year and regression is likely. It's close, but Mike Trout is already better than the prospective NL MVP, and the player who should have won it last year.
Talking about NL MVPs, lets compare him to the winner of the 2011 MVP. Ryan Braun is having another impressive season in 2012. He's batting .307, with 29 home runs, 74 RBIs, 72 runs, 19 stolen bases, and a .981 OPs. Ryan Braun is the only player that I can consider better than Mike Trout at this time. Braun hits for monster power, average, steals bases, produces runs, drives them in, and plays a very solid left field. Mike Trout does all of that as well, but if I'm going to give one knock on him, it's that his glove isn't as polished yet. Trout has mishandled plenty of balls in the outfield, and I'm sure he can fix that with time. However, as of today, the only player in baseball I can say is 100% better than Mike Trout, is Ryan Braun.
I would compare Mike Trout to Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, or Joey Votto, but that would be like comparing apples and oranges. Those guys are completely different than Mike Trout.
Will Trout win the American League MVP this year? I think he deserves it. I guess we'll find out soon enough!