‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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Over this past weekend, Yankee fans got a glimpse of all-world rookie outfielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Trout went 7-for-14 (.500) during the Yankees’ homestand, scorching 4 doubles and was equally lethal on the basepaths, stealing 4 bases.
In 6 games against the Yankees in 2012, Trout is hitting .407 with 5 RBIs and 6 runs scored. Trout isn’t just a Yankee killer… he’s an American League killer.
Through 67 games, the Millville, New Jersey native is batting .349 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs. He’s stolen 30 bases, carrying an on-base percentage of .403 and is slugging .574.
Trout is leading the American League in batting average and tied for the major league lead in stolen bases. His 60 runs scored is 5th-best in the AL despite playing 20 games less than those ahead of him. He ranks 4th among American Leaguers in on-base + slugging at .977, 16 points ahead of Robinson Cano.
It’s truly mind-boggling that Trout already has 30 steals, especially considering he didn’t receive his major league call-up until April 28th. His power-speed combination is truly ‘off the charts.’
I’ve been studying baseball for 20 years and cannot come up with a past player who I’ve watched that leaves me in greater awe than Trout. Ken Griffey, Jr. was an outstanding athlete, but he never stole 30 bases in a single season during his stunning 22-year career.
I wasn’t around in the 1950’s when Mickey Mantle roamed Old Yankee Stadium and dazzled fans with his supernatural baseball gifts. So I’ll defer to Detroit Tigers’ legend Al Kaline, who competed against Mantle during The Mick’s peak years.
The 77-year-old Kaline recently was interviewed by John Lowe of The Detroit Free Press. Kaline compared Trout’s speed-power combination to Mantle and is in awe of Trout’s abilities.
“I’ve really been paying attention to what he’s been doing,” Kaline told Lowe. “It’s been amazing.”
“He’s a strong guy, runs really well, power — he reminds me a little bit of a Mantle,” Kaline said. “You don’t see the combination of power and speed that he has.”
Trout also plays with a burning intensity like Mantle. Whenever you watch the old films of Mantle running around the bases, he’s gutting it out with full effort. Trout is the same way. He doesn’t have an off-switch.
No wonder why they call Trout “The Millville Meteor.” Mantle was famously known as “The Commerce Comet.”
“I try to run as fast as I can, ain’t nothing to it,” Trout told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com.
For all the hype surrounding Bryce Harper, Trout is the rookie who fully-deserving of the fanfare Harper is receiving. Trout will undoubtedly win the American League Rookie of the Year Award, but his unreal play is also earning him MVP consideration.
The Angels are currently leading the AL Wild Card race and they wouldn’t be anywhere near that position without Trout’s influence. Albert Pujols is batting .271 and Kendrys Morales has only driven-in 33 RBIs.
His Angels’ teammates cannot get over the Trout’s impact since his call-up. Mark Trumbo joined Trout at the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City and can’t believe what this uncommon rookie is accomplishing at the age of 20.
“Being 20 years old and flat-out dominating at this level has been incredible. I think about where I was at that stage and I wasn’t even coming close to making an All-Star team, but he’s doing it as the leadoff hitter on a contender and putting up video-game numbers,” Mark Trumbo explained to Anthony Witrado of The Sporting News.
“I’m just in awe every single day,” he concluded.
Should Trout win the 2012 AL MVP, he’ll be the youngest player in MLB history to win an MVP award. He will turn 21 on August 8 and no 21-year-old has ever captured the MVP.
Perhaps at season’s end… not Josh Hamiltion, not Robinson Cano — but rookie phenom Mike Trout will be awarded the AL MVP.
Is Angels’ super-rookie Mike Trout the best all-around talent in the game? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.