Thursday, July 11, 2013


By Jonathan Northrop, AngelsWin.com Columnist - 

It seems we haven't had much Trout Porn this year, so here's something to feast your eyes with.


That's a list of all 282 players with at least 500 PA through age 21 in major league history through age 21 by WAR (It doesn't matter what you set the minimum PA at, the top of the list would be the same).

Here's the top 10:
19.3 Mel Ott
16.1 Mike Trout
16.0 Ty Cobb
15.0 Al Kaline
14.4 Ken Griffey Jr
14.3 Rogers Hornsby
14.2 Jimmie Foxx
13.8 Ted Williams
13.3 Alex Rodriguez
13.1 Sherry Magee

With the exception of Magee - and Griffey and A-Rod so far - those are all Hall of Famers, many of them inner circle Hall of Famers. Griffey will certainly get in and A-Rod's numbers are among the best in the game and will only possibly be barred due to steroids. Even Magee had a career WAR of 64.2, more than many Hall of Famers.

And the next ten? It includes: Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Eddie Matthews, Andruw Jones, Cesar Cedeno, Joe Jackson, John McGraw, Arky Vaughn, Vada Pinson, and Johnny Bench.

In other words, the top 20 are almost all legit Hall of Famers, with a few "Hall of Very Good" players like Cedeno, Pinson, and Magee.

Let us also note that Trout still has 72 games to accumulate 3.3 WAR to pass Mel Ott, which is very do-able (although not a done deal).

We all know Trout's great, but its easy to forget just how great: So far in his career - about halfway through his age 21 season - he's been the best player in major league history.

Think about that. And the exciting thing is that, despite a possible down-tick in his defense (which may even out over time), he's showing some signs of getting better. Compare his triple-slash numbers from 2012 to 2013:

2012: .326/.399/.564
2013: .320/.399/.560

Almost exactly the same. But there are a couple of reasons to think that he's actually improved at the plate this year. Compare his BABIP:

2012: .383
2013: .357

This is primarily due to his reduced HR this year. He hit 30 last year in 139 games vs. 15 in 89 games. But note that his ISO (isolated slugging, or SLG - BA) is almost exactly the same: .240 in 2012 to .238 in 2013, mainly due to his much increased doubles (he already has two more than last year).

Now look at his BB% and K%:

2012: 10.5 BB%, 21.8 K%
2013: 11.1 BB%, 16.7 K%

If you remember, his K% went way down around the same time he stopped hitting a ton of HR. Compare the last few months:

May: 127 PA, 8 HR, 14 walks, 25 Strikeouts
June: 127 PA, 3 HR, 15 walks, 14 Strikeouts
July: 34 PA, 2 HR, 4 walks, 5 Strikeouts

While July is a very small sample size, it seems that his HR rate is going back up but his walks and strikeouts are staying the same.

One more thing. Much has been made about the fact that Trout gets better each time he faces a pitcher within a game. Check this out:

vs. SP, 1st time: .265/.315/.446
vs. SP, 2nd time: .360/.416/.720
vs. SP, 3rd time: .380/.419/.620
vs. SP, 4th time: .429/.467/.714

The point being, we have a rare talent on our hands, folks. Trout continues to make micro-adjustments to maintain a very high level of play and, perhaps, improve his game over time. We shall see. But the best news is that he seems to be able to maintain the performance level from last year; whether he'll get better remains to be seen.
Love to hear what you think!

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