Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 8/27/13
There have only been a few players in history that have had it. That magical coolness that had you glued to the television whenever he was at bat or a fly ball flew his way. Willie Mays had it. Mickey Mantle had it. Cal Ripken Jr. had it. Pete Rose had it. Rickey Henderson had it. Ken Griffey Jr. Had it. Mike Trout has it. Growing up in the 2000s, the player of my childhood that had it was Griffey Jr. The smile, the backwards hat, and the smoothest swing I have ever seen had my whole generation of new baseball fans won over. Few players were as fun to watch as Griffey Jr. and his dominance in Backyard Baseball didn't hurt his royal aura either. But today, Griffey Jr. is retired and with the welcoming of a new decade, we need a new phenom that has it. And right on cue, Mike Trout has emerged on the scene as the new superstar and after two seasons, it is clear that Trout has it. Watching Trout play and dominate as a boy in a men's league reminds me of the way Griffey Jr. did the same thing two decades earlier. Both players were only 19-years-old when they made their debuts. Both players are the ultimate five-tool players, as they are able to do it all on a diamond. But the best way to compare these guys is by the stats. Although both players came into the league as teenagers, their first season was not a good representation of the players they became in the future. Both players blossomed as 20 and 21-year-olds so we will use the numbers from their second and third years as pros. Here they are: 1990-1991 Ken Griffey Jr.: 1,145 at bats, 167 runs, 358 hits, 70 doubles, 8 triples, 44 home runs, 180 RBI, 34 stolen bases, 134 walks, .313 batting average, .382 OBP, .503, and .885 OPS. 2012-2013 Mike Trout: 1,041 at bats, 218 runs, 341 hits, 61 doubles, 16 triples, 52 home runs, 163 RBI, 77 stolen bases, 145 walks, .328 batting average, .412 OBP, .567 SLG, and .979 OPS. Something that stands out right away is that Griffey Jr. has 144 more at-bats than Trout does for the sheer fact that the 2013 season is not over yet. But even with that that stark difference in at-bat's, the numbers are relatively close. The fact that Trout has more runs, triples, home runs, stolen bases, walks, and a higher batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS, may prove that he is on track to have a better career than The Kid. Or it could prove that Trout peaked at an extraordinarily swift rate and even made Griffey Jr.'s relatively speedy progression look slow. Griffey Jr. did not hit over 30 home runs until his fifth season when he was 23, hitting 45. Although he was able to hit for a high average, averaging a .311 batting average in his first three full seasons, his elite power did not come until he was 23. Trout, on the other hand, hit 30 home runs in only 139 games last season when he was 20. And he is on pace to eclipse that total this year. But after Griffey Jr.'s 1993 season of 45 home runs, he had seven straight seasons, ignoring the 1995 season when he only played 72 games, where he hit 40 or more home runs, including back-to-back 56 home run seasons in 1997 and 1998. So, where does Trout's career go from here? It is clear that Griffey Jr. was still growing into his body during his first four seasons, so does that mean the same is true for Trout? Does that mean he is in line for multiple seasons of 50 home runs once his body matures? There is no way for us to know, but I would bet that Trout has done all of the maturing he needs. He has filled out his 6'2" frame with 230 pounds, while Junior came into the league as a string bean. With experience, I expect Trout's numbers to increase, but based on pure speculation, I cannot see Trout having the giant increase in progression that Griffey saw as he got older simply because Trout can't get that much better than he already is. He is already a guy who can hit 40 home runs, while it took The Kid four years before he could match that kind of power. And Trout's power isn't even the highlight of his immense talent. He has the speed, as his stolen bases, triples, and runs prove, to take over a game with his legs. Although both players have it, it is obvious that they are very different players. But looking at the progression of the two superstars brings up some interesting information. The real question from all of this is what if Trout does see the immense progression that Griffey Jr. had in his fourth season? What if Trout's peak is far from the numbers he is producing now? It's always possible, but that would also mean that baseball would have a true best player of all time because those kind of numbers would be unlike anything we have ever seen. Pay attention, ladies and gentlemen, we could be watching history here. By: Matt Levine Twitter: @Matt_TSP

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

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