#18 - MIKE TROUT, OF
Aren't you glad that Francisco Rodriguez got greedy and rebuffed Arte Moeno's attempts to sign him long term in 2008? Were you one of the Angels fans bugging poor Jeff Biggs on Angel Talk after the 2008 season when the Halos failed to re-sign Mark Teixeira? The compensation picks the Angels got were the first round picks of the Mets and Yankees, the teams that signed the marquee free agent Angels in the post-'08 offseason.
Legendary Halo director of scouting Eddie Bane targeted Mike Trout as his number one pick. The trouble was the Angels did not pick until the 24th slot. Luck or perhaps divine intervention left him unpicked. The Angels were so gung-ho on this talent that they thought he would be tough to sign so they took Randall Grichuk with the 24th pick and then, having the the 25th pick as well, took Trout. He was an easy sign and impressed right away in the Pioneer League with the Orem Owls in 2009. It was a quick path the to the majors. While his cup of coffee in 2011 was average at best, there was no doubt among serious baseball people that Trout was the future face of the franchise.
The two greatest seasons by an Angels player both belong to Michael Nelson Trout. They were his first two full seasons in the majors. The first, for which he won Rookie of the Year, he began in the minors, where he toiled for almost a month. The second proved there was no sophomore slump. The ease at which he performed better than any player in baseball made it pretty apparent that historic seasons should be the norm for him.
After only 1,490 Plate Appearances with the Angels, Mike Trout is one of the greatest Angels players ever. If his career ended before the season began, the amazing numbers he compiled and the hope he gave to the fans of the team would place him high on this list. And this ranking is not looking toward the future, it is based on exactly what he has accomplished.
The only caveat to Trout's career so far is the small sample size. He leads the team in OPS+ and On Base Percentage Plus Slugging, topping the franchise greats, but one mediocre season, one league average year and those spiked numbers tumble to earth. But each great year he has from here on out will add to a counterweight should a slump come.
The 10.9 Wins Above Replacement he put up in 2012 are the best ever by an Angel and all but a few teams. Only 29 other position players in team history have that many WAR in their Halo careers. He followed it up with 9.2 WAR in 2013, the second best single season mark in club history. Darin Erstad's legendary 2000 season (8.3 WAR) had previously been the franchise peak. His 19.3 Offensive WAR is already the tenth most in an Angels career.
Moved to the second spot in the batting order in 2013, he only scored 109 runs, fifteenth best in club history. He set the club record the previous season when he scored 129 runs, five more than Vladimir Guerrero's 124 in his MVP 2004 season. His 190 hits in 2013 are the tenth most in club history for a single Angels season.
There are so many more numbers that it becomes a blur. Mike Trout is the complete package - he is one of the best outfield gloves in baseball today. He has the best strike zone judgement of any player I have ever seen on a consistent basis. If there is a knock on him besides high strikeout totals and a wearing out in September along with late inning numbers that are good not historically great, perhaps Peter Bourjos being traded to accommodate his agent's stated desire that Centerfield is his position had something to do with it.
The ZIPS projection system compares him to Mickey Mantle. He has All-Star power and Cooperstown speed. He can hit for a single with a runner in scoring position or let it rip for the fences. And he is only 22 as of this writing.