Love projection systems or loathe them, using regression, recent performance and age to ballpark a player’s numbers into the future is here to stay. They are not without their utility, provided the proper amount of restraint and recognition that their utility ends at a point.

How useful is a tool which, in its very design, drags the highest fliers back to a normalizing line, regressing those we wish could outperform their periphials forever? What kind of framework exists to accurately project the best player in the game, who also happens to be all of 21-years old?

It is still early in the projection season but one of the big ones, ZiPS, rolled out for Trout’s Angels today. Such are the expectations for Mike Trout that, even though he still ranks as the best player in baseball by their system, his home runs, doubles, stolen bases, and on base percentage should all come up short of 2012 levels.

ZiPS – .282/.361/.507, .378 wOBA, .322 BABIP, 28 2B, 11 3B, 29 HR, 47 SB, 8.0 WAR.

The most surprising part of Mike Trout’s 2012 season — aside from ranking as one of the finest years ever put together by a baseball player in the more than 130 years of the professional game — was the power. Even the ball-washingest of talent evaluators didn’t expect 30+ home run power from Trout.

ZiPS sides with Trout’s minor league track record, suggesting a mere 29 home runs and 28 doubles. The BABIP regression is par for the course, though a player as quick out of the box as Trout could post a .322 in-play average after half a box of white Valium.

CAIRO is a more simplistic system put together by the good people of the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog. Similar to Marcel in its simplicity, it sees Mike Trout doing, well, Mike Trout things in 2013.

CAIRO – .300/.383/.498, .385 wOBA, 28 2B, 7 3B, 26 HR, 47 SB.

HO-HUM. .400/500 from an elite defensive center fielder with 47 steals. That happens pretty often, doesn’t it? Though, I suppose it did happen last year, didn’t it?

For fun (and fun alone), the Bill James projections serve as the fan service projection system. Indulging fanboys and the delusional with impractical and borderline reckless numbers seemingly conjured out of a rosterbatory fever dream.

Bill James – .325/.402/.564, .410 wOBA, .379 BABIP, 31 2B, 12 3B, 30 HR, 53 SB.

Hilarious! Those numbers are so far-fetched that they…look exactly like his 2012 numbers. Hard to project a player will post the 50 or so highest BABIP’s ever but…there you go.

As has been written on these pages approximately one million times before, Mike Trout has the skills to remain the best player in baseball. His rare combination of skills take care of that. Whether or not he replicates what he did in 2012 almost doesn’t matter. When his PECOTA numbers come out, we can poke around inside there but the fact remains: the best in the game stands to be the best again in 2013.