Mike Trout is the future of baseball

(Robert Beck/SI)

The Future is Now: Mike Trout

Anaheim Angels outfielder Mike Trout is on the fast track to Cooperstown.

How long is it going to be before we start saying Mike Trout is the best player in baseball?

In a baseball season becoming more defined by the Bio-Genesis scandal, it’s easy to miss some of the really awesome things happening on the baseball diamond. Miguel Cabrera is reaching his limit break every other weekend. Matt Harvey is quickly becoming the next New York pitching phenom, a list that includes: Ron Guidry, Dwight Gooden, Tom Seaver, and Nolan Ryan.

Just how good was Mike Trout last year? He led the American League in runs scored and stolen bases. He was the youngest player ever to join the 30-30 club. He was also the youngest player to win Rookie of the Year and the 18th player ever to win the award unanimously. Trout accomplished those feats playing in 139 games. It was a year worthy of an MVP in any other season but a Triple Crown season. Despite that, everyone was waiting for an encore. We’re not just getting an encore. We’re getting better. We’re getting bigger.

A full month before his 22nd birthday, he’s already the best outfielder in the sport. He’s in the top ten in so many offensive categories, I believe at this point, one might be legit to nose hair. If you’re curious as to the full list here we go. At-bats, runs scored, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, extra-base hits, total bases, and plate appearances.

He’s kind of a big deal in case this was not as clear as I might have liked it.

I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t he have a lot of competition for that title as the best outfielder in baseball? On the surface, the answer is yes, but look a little deeper. B.J. and Justin Upton are filling their roles as the game’s preeminent teases as players who should be filling up stat sheets and league leader tables, but can’t seem to do so. Adam Jones is very good, but his ceiling isn’t as high as Trout’s and I believe he would even admit it if you asked him. Same with Andrew McCutchen. Curtis Granderson is hurt and isn’t the defender Trout is. Truthfully, Bryce Harper is the closest to him. For however long both of them can keep going this will turn into one of those debates we have for a while. Not unlike those Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Duke Snyder debates our fathers and grandfathers had back in the day. I’m not implying Mike Trout is on a path to be better than Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle, but rather he along with Harper and maybe Yasiel Puig will be this generation’s hotly debated trio of outfielders.

Before too much longer, we will be in the Mike Trout era – if we aren’t already. He will be the player setting the standard for greatness in the sport. He’s heir to the throne of Griffey Jr., Willie Mays, and Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Ty Cobb.

Will the next generation of prospects hand Mike Trout the throne?

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