Sticking with our theme of the day, I must come clean. I love baseball, I love watching baseball, and I enjoy watching players who are not members of my favorite team. But there is one player in particular who gives me the chills every time I see him play.
The year was 2008, the Chicago Cubs finished with the second best record in all of baseball and due to the supplemental draft picks, and they landed ended up with the 31st pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. With that selection, the Cubs reached out selected Brett Jackson to hopefully be their center fielder of the future. As of yet, the Cubs have yet to see anything of value out of Jackson at the major league level.
I bring this up, because six picks earlier 2012 Rookie of the Year Mike Trout was selected by the Anaheim Angels. The Angels actually finished with a better record than the Cubs, but because the New York Yankees signed Mark Teixeira in free agency their pick was awarded to the Angels. Who is to say if Trout would have fallen six more picks if the Angels had not been there to claim him, but his presence on the Cubs would have been nice.
After a very subpar cup of coffee in 2011, where he only played in 40 games and barely hit his weight, Trout stormed into the mainstream by putting up monster numbers that made him a shoe in for the Rookie of the Year award. In fact, his numbers were so good, that he was a prime candidate for the Most Valuable Player award where he was beat out by Triple Crown winning Miguel Cabrera. While either player could have won the MVP award, many felt Trout should have won after putting up an eye popping 10.7 WAR (wins above replacement) which led all of baseball as opposed to Cabrera who only amassed a 6.9 WAR. The Triple Crown tipped the odds in Cabrera’s favor and made him a runaway winner, even though several sites had him ranked as the best player in all of baseball last year.
What made him all the more amazing, is he put up all those numbers, amassed the monster WAR record in only five months as he started the season out in Triple A. Do not forget that in that time he was able to hit 30 home runs and also drove in 83 runs; all of which coming from the leadoff position in the lineup. Baseball experts compared his offensive production with some of the best leadoff hitters in the game’s history, such as Rickey Henderson. What I would not give for the Cubs to have a leadoff hitter who was able to put up offensive numbers like that. I love Alfonso Soriano, but even at his best for the Cubs (in 2007 and 2008) he did not put up as good of numbers. Did I mention that he got on base at a .399 clip? When was the last time you saw any Cub get on base at that high of a percentage?
The swing of his bat was not the only thing that made me fall in love with him though. I was jealous of how he ran the bases when all we had to watch was the “King of the TOOTBLAN” himself Ryan Theriot. Seeing Trout take the extra base with ease every time on the base paths was simply amazing. He scored a league leading 129 runs, and his closes competitor Cabrera was 20 behind him. Again, a leadoff hitter who gets the job done with the bat and on the base paths was more than enough to make me fall in love with him. But that is not all this guy can do.
The man can play all three outfield positions, and play very well defensively. He can make every play, making only four errors in 347 chances. Trout glides through the outfield making amazing plays, saving runs all over the place. That is what a real defensive outfielder looks like, one you can count on every time the ball is hit his way. How would you like him roam the outfield instead of David DeJesus or Nate Schierholtz?
In all my years of watching baseball, I have never seen a player be this good as such a young age. Sorry Cub fans, not even Starlin Castro can compare to Trout. He uses all five tools in his arsenal, and makes things look easy. His rookie campaign might in fact be the single greatest rookie season in baseball history!
There are plenty of players who I enjoy watching around the big leagues who do no wear a Cubs jersey, but out of all of them, none come close to giving me the level of excitement that I get from watching Trout. He is only 21 years old, and is already putting up amazing numbers. I cannot wait to watch his career as he progresses to see how great he can be. I can only sit back and imagine how great the Cubs would be if he were on our side. I know that he has just finished one full year and needs to prove last year was not a fluke, but watching how he plays the game, I cannot see him taking too many steps back.
How I wish he was a Cub, since he will never be in blue pinstripes, I will have to settle for watching him from afar.