Mike Trout: Still Special Despite New Flaw

Trout2At this time last season, Mike Trout had won the hearts of baseball nerds around the world. At the completion of the Angels 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers, Trout had played in exactly 81 games and had posted a .353/.411/.608 line with 80 runs, 20 doubles, five triples, 18 home runs, 55 RBI, and 31 stolen bases. His .404 BABIP helped those numbers to that point, but Trout has proven that those numbers aren’t uncharacteristic in his brief career.

In 2013, Trout has continued his torrid pace, posting a .331/.412/.568 line with 73 runs, 31 doubles, eight triples, 17 home runs, 66 RBI, and 23 stolen bases in 104 games, including a .358/.442/.625 over his last 79 games.

After winning the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and finishing second to Miguel Cabrera in AL MVP voting, what more can Trout do to prove his worth on the field? Fangraphs has Trout at a 6.7 WAR (1st), while Baseball Reference has him at 5.2 (eighth)…maybe it is the inconsistency in WAR calculations that has made statistical measurements in Trout’s value so worthless to some baseball writers, but the proof is in the defense, and I mean the glove and not further arguments.

So many national writers were clamoring for Trout to win the MVP in 2012 due to his defense, especially when compared to Miguel Cabrera’s defense at third for Detroit:

Year Tm Age Pos G GS Inn Ch PO A E DP Fld% Rtot Rdrs Rtot/yr Rdrs/yr RF/9 RF/G lgFld% lgRF9 lgRFG
2012 LAA 20 OF 139 138 1225.2 347 340 3 4 1 .988 15 21 15 20 2.52 2.47 .986 2.17 2.16
2012 LAA 20 CF 110 108 885.2 268 264 2 2 1 .993 12 23 17 31 2.70 2.42 .989 2.58 2.56
2012 LAA 20 LF 67 29 328.0 76 75 0 1 0 .987 2 -1 9 -4 2.06 1.12 .984 1.94 1.93
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/31/2013.

Based on the numbers, Trout saved 21 runs with his defense in 2012 and played rangy, above league average defense for the Angels. In 2013…not so much:

Year Tm Age Pos G GS Inn Ch PO A E DP Fld% Rtot Rdrs Rtot/yr Rdrs/yr RF/9 RF/G lgFld% lgRF9 lgRFG
2013 LAA 21 OF 104 104 926.0 253 251 0 2 0 .992 6 -15 8 -19 2.44 2.41 .988 2.23 2.22
2013 LAA 21 CF 73 70 629.0 178 177 0 1 0 .994 3 -12 5 -23 2.53 2.42 .990 2.66 2.65
2013 LAA 21 LF 38 34 297.0 75 74 0 1 0 .987 4 -3 14 -13 2.24 1.95 .992 1.97 1.96
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/31/2013.

Trout is still above average in left field as far as range, but his defense in center field and the outfield, in general, hasn’t been nearly as solid this season, as the 21-year-old outfielder has cost his team nearly 15 runs this season.

TroutTrout did pack on some weight this offseason, weighing in when he reported to camp at 241 pounds, but you his strong, muscular frame hides it well, or has already burned it off; however, is it possible that there is conditioning to blame for his sudden lack of defensive metric love?

Mike Trout is an amazing baseball player and there is no doubt that he should be in the conversation, once again, for the AL MVP; however, when writers get to their arguments this year, will his numbers be enough to overcome the seasons that Baltimore’s Chris Davis and Detroit’s Cabrera have put up this year? Is the speed and ability to steal bases worth more to voters than the fact that Trout is considered the 15th best defensive centerfielder in baseball this year (based on UZR/150)? Time will tell, but Trout is still one of the most exciting players in all of MLB to watch, regardless of future accolades, which will, at his current pace, reach Hall of Fame worthiness.


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