To the surprise of very few, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper began their inevitable march towards Bird/Magic marriage of marketing by netting Rookie of the Year awards. Trout sweeps the vote with his season for the ages while Bryce Harper posted one of the finest seasons for a teenager in baseball history, edging Arizona starter Wade Miley to take the NL ROY crown.
Not a bad twosome to pull your brand wagon for the next fifteen years, MLB.
There isn’t much left to say when discussing Mike Trout’s 2012 season. It was fantastic, amazing, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, superlative superlativing beast that will outlive us all. His numbers at the plate made him a MVP candidate, his base running and defense make him the best player in baseball. His age makes him an enigma, a rocket to the stars destined to change the game.
A taste of the numbers you will see tattooed across behind the ear and along the collarbone of impressionable college students for the rest of your days: .326/.399/.564, 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases, 10 Wins Above Replacement. More highlight reel plays in the outfield than one can even remember. A nation’s faith restored. The unanimous selection for the American League’s Rookie of the Year, all within a few months of his 21st birthday. (Full ballot)
If Mike Trout is the Golden Boy, the good Jersey kid who loves the Eagles and brings his Mom to scoop MLBPA trophy swag, Bryce Harper is his foil. The Mormon kid from Vegas who cannot outrun his reputation as a bad seed, even if he rarely stepped out of line. (Full ballot)
While his numbers don’t jump off the page quite like Trout’s, Harper’s season might be more impressive due to his youth. In his first year in the big leagues, only his second professional season, Harper produced 5 WAR in his own right, playing decent outfield defense while hitting 22 home runs, the second most ever by a teenager.
Harper struggled with big league pitching in August but made adjustments and bounced back in September, finishing the year with a .270/.340/.477 line and 18 steals of his own – second all-time among teens to only Ty Cobb.
Two tremendous players likely to shape the MLB landscape for the next two decades or so. Two worthy award winners. Not only on potential and “value to the game” but merit as well. It is rare to see any prospects even meet the level of their hype as they enter the game and here, in Trout and Harper, we have two players who exceeded the hype in every way.