Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez in 1999. Barry Bonds in 2001. Randy Johnson in 2002. These are the fantasy baseball seasons straight out of Heaven. The ones you remember forever. Seasons that can cause you to fall in love with Rotisserie baseball in a couple months. I’ve been on the right side of a few of these, and I’ll remember what it felt like forever.
Mike Trout is putting together his third straight campaign that will live on in fantasy legend for the rest of time. Trout currently posts a .303/.391/.595 slash for his lucky owners, making fantasy life easier for those who found a way to call the Angels center fielder theirs for 2014.
Trout is just 22 years old – meaning he is years away from his prime – doing things at an age that many are just figuring out AA ball. Pitchers have better stuff nowadays, they throw harder, they have more out pitches, they go deeper into ballgames and relievers all have mid-90 MPH stuff. It is a different landscape then it was in the mid-1990’s when offense ruled the game. The numbers that Trout is allowing his owners to enjoy come at a premium in today’s baseball world, making it all that much more meaningful.
The ZiPS projection system sees Trout finishing with a .302 average, 36 HR, 113 RBI, 115 runs, and 23 stolen bases. That would leave him with a three season average (ages 20-22 seasons) of a .317 average, 31 home runs, 97 RBI, 117 runs, and 35 stolen bases. Please stare at those numbers for a moment and think around the league at how few players can offer that to you day in and day out without much concern for injury, regression, or other baggage.
In the age of the internet and twitter, we are hyper-inflated with coverage and information. I think that makes it more difficult to slow down, decompress, and appreciate how special some things are in the present-day in sports. Jeff Sullivan talked about that in a really good FanGraphs article on Trout not too long ago. If you own Mike Trout in a league at the present time, you are blessed my friends. If you own Mike Trout in a keeper league without any foreseeable end to this run you and he are on; there isn’t a word for how lucky you are.
I wanted my first post to be about something epic – something that captured a good freeze frame of the pinnacle of my favorite sport at the current moment. When I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write about, I thought it could only be to pause and give thanks to the greatness of Mike Trout. I’ve been watching baseball pretty closely since the late 1980’s, seeing so many unique talents pass through; doing amazing things and making this simple game that has been played the same way for so many years somehow seem different or special. Pound-for-pound, I think Trout at the current moment is the greatest I’ve seen. That’s right, slightly ahead of mid-to-late 90’s Griffey and Bonds when he was in his PEDs heyday.
The game has evolved, and with runs and scoring back to where they were in 1992 (record lows); what this young player is doing is just as amazing, if not more so than the things the aforementioned players did in their respective time periods. Trout is the white whale of fantasy. The player you’ve waited your entire life to own. For the chosen few, soak it in.