Originally written on Fantasy Baseball 365  |  Last updated 6/26/12
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As the Orange County Register pointed out last night, Mike Trout did not play in a game yesterday, but has taken over the league lead in batting average as Paul Konerko dropped a point behind him. Anytime a player is leading in one of the big traditional three categories (average, home runs, or RBI) it cries out to voters that they deserve some recognition. Today, the votes are being changed to account for OBP, OPS, and even WAR but those numbers usually sit right in line with where a player is in the traditional categories. Here are Trout's numbers among AL rookies:

Runs - 1st
Hits -  1st
Average - 1st
Doubles - 1st
Triples - 1st
Home Runs - Tied for 3rd
RBI - 3rd
Walks - 1st
OBP - 1st
Steals - 1st 

With all due respect to Will Middlebrooks and the job he did to force Kevin Youkilis out of town, Trout would win the award going away at this point for American League Rookie of the Year. I believe the greater debate at this point is the potential that the AL batting leader could win the AL MVP as well. Doing both is not unprecedented as we saw with Ichiro just 11 years ago or with Fred Lynn going back to 1975. And Trout is putting together a similar impact season as Ichiro and Lynn had.

Trout of course was not with the Angels coming out of Spring Training. He has only played in 51 of the Angels 73 team games as a result. This fact actually might help him though because the Angels have been two different teams before and after Trout's arrival. Only the Royals and Twins had worse records than the Angels on April 28th when Trout was called up to be a sort of savior for the Angels. Since the Angels have a .634 winning percentage and are now tied for the last Wild Card spot. It's fair to say that the Angels have also been helped by Albert Pujols waking up, solid pitching, and increased playing time for Mark Trumbo, but Trout's arrival may have sparked all of those things. 

The numbers seem to back it up. For voters that choose new tools to vote with, Trout's 3.7 WAR is tied with Robinson Cano for best in the AL. His 21 steals are the most in the AL, and the value that he brings to an offense in terms of altering a pitcher's concentration is hard to calculate. Had he been playing from the beginning of the season, he would have roughly 58 runs which would also lead the league. In other words, by the end of the season he could also be the league leader in runs scored.

When Ichiro won the MVP, it helped that he was an exceptional fielder since he lacked home run power. Trout will probably finish the season with around 15 to 20 home runs. That's a far cry from where other candidates such as Cano, Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones or Jose Bautista will end up. Unlike Hamilton and Bautista though, Trout is an asset in the field. According to Fangraphs, only Alex Gordon and Ichiro are better defensively this season. 

Obviously there's still a lot of baseball to be played, and slumps and hot streaks still have a lot to say about how this race shakes out. If a vote had to happen today, it would be tough not to look at Trout as a legitimate candidate. 

  •  Perhaps the American League's third best rookie, Yoenis Cespedes, returns to the outfield for the first time since June 13th tonight. 
  • Jason Heyward hit .522 with 6 extra base hits last week. That was enough to earn him NL Player of the Week honors.
  • Alfonso Soriano is looking to play the role of mentor for Anthony Rizzo who will debut with the Cubs tonight.  
  • Derek Jeter is 38 today. He is still playing like he's 30.
  • It's unlikely that Ryan Dempster will be back with the Cubs before the All-Star break. My guess is that he doesn't make three more starts as a member of the Cubs. 
  • Emilio Bonifacio will also be coming back after the break. When he does he will wear a wrap around his injured thumb when he is on base.
  • Matt Kemp will be coming back after the break. The Dodgers could finish with less home runs as a team (6) than Trevor Plouffe (10) this month. Kemp is sort of important. 
  • Josh Beckett will be coming back before the break. He threw a bullpen yesterday and felt great.
  • Mat Latos had the best game perhaps of his career last night with 13 strikeouts in a complete game victory. He threw a career high 43 sliders.
  • Latos' former team will be sending their 13th different starting pitcher to the mound tonight. Kip Wells will get the ball for the Padres for the first time in the big leagues since 2009. Probably fair to say that if Casey Kelly were healthy, he'd be in San Diego by now. 
  • The Rangers have promoted their top pitching prospect Martin Perez to the big club. His numbers weren't great at Triple-A, but he's been better lately. It's not clear if Perez will be pitching out of the pen or as a starter. 
  • Deeper leagues can keep an eye out for Tyler Moore of the Nationals who was hitting pretty well in the minors and has not been getting much time at the Majors. Davey Johnson is considering the idea of getting Moore up against righties and lefties. He is usually just playing against lefties. 
  • Bryce Harper's back has been bothering him for more than two weeks, but he is playing well despite the issue. 
  • Three bullpen arms that might be of interest to the Mets: Huston Street, Brett Myers, and Grant Balfour. 
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