Before this season started I wrote an a post regarding the top-five fantasy baseball rookies for 2012. Within it, I spoke of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, two guys we all expected to pay immediate dividends in 2012. While I ranked Harper higher (second) because of his power it pained me to do so, for reasons only Anaheim might understand. Here were my assessments of them at the time.
“Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, recommended standard draft round: N/A (waivers), Stat Line 2011 (2 teams in minors): .297 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 26 SB: You’re going to learn something about me very quickly: I will almost always value a pitcher over a hitter. Even one as young and talented as Bryce Harper. That said don’t mistake me for a fool. I have two eyes, and have watched baseball long enough to know that this kid is going to be a good one. The question here is what will his impact be on your fantasy roster. I would expect Harper to have a season that is a mixture of what Heyward did in 2010 and what Freddie Freeman did in 2011. I don’t know how ready Harper is to play everyday in the majors right now. He’s played just 109 games in his professional career and none of those was above Double-A. While he did play well in the Arizona Fall League I would guess he still starts the season in Triple-A. Meaning the month of April could be a bit of a wash but I see him coming up and doing what he’s done at every level of his baseball career: perform. I would expect between 17-20 home runs and 65-75 RBI’s. His average may take a slight beating due to some adjustment but I don’t see it lower than a .270 to .280. His value will come with his on-base percentage (OBP) and his ability to steal bases once on. He’s quickly cutting down on his strikeouts and as that number comes closer to his walk totals he should be a fantastic pick-up and not just for trade bait. Expected arrival: middle of April”
“Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, recommended standard draft round: 22-24, Stat Line 2011 (Minors): .326 BA, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 33 SB, .414 OBP (.422 career in minors): Where do I begin with this guy. As of now you probably see no surprises in the top three as far as rookies are concerned. I’m most excited about Trout, who is going to make an impact once his time in the majors is guaranteed. He’s a five tool guy (like Harper) that may not give you as much power (unlike Harper). His other numbers are where you will really find his value. If you’re in a league that values average, OBP, BB, and steals, Trout is your first choice hands down. His OBP (which is consistently between .400 and .420) is an incredible asset to have. especially considering if he isn’t getting on by way of walk, he’s hitting his way on (.338 career hitter in the minors). I expect this to transfer over to the majors but because of the positional depth the Angels have in the outfield he may have to wait a little. If not for that logjam I might have made a few more in Washington Nationals nation upset and ranked him higher. Expected arrival: Early/Mid-May”
Now you will notice I put in bold that last line on Trout and that has a reason. I will not take anything away from Harper because all he’s done since his arrival is hit .256, with two home runs and an impressive 12 RBI’s and 16 walks in just 22 games. A stellar opening act for a 19-year old kid.
But there was a reason for my final line on Trout. While Harper has five-tools and is developing them all in front of our eyes, Trout is better overall. I say this because without the power he can absolutely flip a game without much effort. So far in 2012 he’s batting .350, with four home runs, 10 RBI’s, six steals and a cool .413 on-base percentage (OPS 1.013) in 21 games.
Most could attempt attribute it to age, but Mike Trout is doing this at the age of 20 (he turns 21 in August). My point isn’t to discredit anything Harper has done to this point, again he’s a phenomenal talent. However Trout has put the baseball world on notice that he is every bit as good (maybe better?) as Harper, and is as exciting a talent to watch as any within the game.