You could say as of now, 2012 is the year of the phenom in the MLB. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have taken the league by storm with their skills on the diamond. Harper was taken 1st overall in 2010 by the Washington Nationals. Trout was taken 25th overall in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels. They’re one year removed in the age category with Trout being 20, and Harper being 19. However, both have been called up this season, and have made giant impacts on their respective teams.
But who would you rather start a franchise with? Bryce Harper, the most talked about prospect in the game? Or Mike Trout, one the highly touted prospects by Baseball America, and other respectable prospect sites.
Lets break it down by hype, and facts.
Bryce Harper –
The Hype –
Harper’s hype didn’t just come from this video, but his 502ft home run in a Power Showcase added to it. He was selected to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated under the title “Baseball’s Chosen One.” Which was very similar to how SI perceived LeBron James when he was on the big stage.
Harper’s been in the media’s eye ever since he’s been drafted, let alone called up to the Major Leagues. Media members are constantly trying to get him to open his mouth so something stupid comes out. As a minor leaguer Harper found himself in many controversial situations. Like blowing a kiss to the pitcher after hitting a home run. This time a reporter asked Harper if he was going to have a celebratory beer after his game in Toronto. Since in Canada he’s legal to drink. Harper responded with “That’s a clown question bro.”
He got a lot of love for that. Harper’s even gotten the attention of his rivals. Cole Hamels intentionally beaned Harper. Yet Harper went on with his business, and eventually stole home. Sports outlets raved about Harper’s new found maturity. They love to build this guy up and say he’s the best rookie in baseball, but is he?
Mike Trout –
The Hype –
Mike Trout received little hype, and recognition from the major sports networks. But the internet had that covered. He was quietly ranked Baseball America’s #2 prospect mid-way through 2010, and the #1 prospect by ESPN’s Keith Law in 2011.
And well, that’s basically it for Trout’s hype.
The Facts –
I decided to combine Harper and Trout for the facts portion of this column. It’s easier to look at their numbers side by side then scrolling up through the post. Your welcome!
Bryce Harper : .275 AVG, .347 OBP, .457 SLG, .352 wOBA, 1.6 WAR
Mike Trout : .355 AVG, .408 OBP, .582 SLG, .438 wOBA, 5.2 WAR
As you can see above, the numbers don’t say Harper is the better player despite all the hype he’s received. Fans around the country are just starting to realize how good Trout is, and then attempt to compare him to how Harper is playing. When they should actually be comparing Harper to Trout. Trout is by far the better player. He leads the league in batting average, while having the second highest WAR in the league according to Fangraphs.
Harper doesn’t even have the second highest WAR in his rookie class. He’s behind both Andrelton Simmons of the Braves, and Todd Frazier of the Reds. It doesn’t matter though. Harper won’t even catch Trout’s 5.2 WAR if Trout never stepped on the field again in this entire season.
Trout is the true 5-tool player. He hits for average and power. He’s probably the fastest player in the league, and has a good glove in the outfield. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground. I like to say Trout is a mix between Brett Gardner, and a 2009 Joe Mauer. Trout has stole 30 bases, while hitting 13 home runs with an ISO of .227.
Don’t let the media fool you into believing Harper actually has a chance to win this debate. The facts have spoken, and it’s quite obviously it’s Mike Trout.