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Mike Trout has good reason to smile, as his 2012 campaign was among the best seasons of all time
      On a frequent and seemingly every day basis, people often ask me why I think Mike Trout is the American League MVP or why I think he is one of, if not, the best baseball player in the game today. Those same people often observe the modest run batted in totals and decent power numbers and snicker and ridicule me for even putting his name in the same breath as triple crown champion, Miguel Cabrera. Often, people just see a player who put up a very good season, but not a great or extraordinary one by any means. This is where those people are wrong. Mike Trout, known to only the most hardcore of fans, has accomplished an incredible season that is unprecedented both in terms of his age and inexperience in addition to his talent and overall production.            

        Offensively, Mike Trout has blended an incredible mix of power and contact to become a multidimensional threat at the plate. Trout's line of .326/.399/.564 was good enough to rank in the top three for batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. Trout manages to trail only marginally in average and on base with a more significant gap in slugging percentage to sluggers Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera. As for more traditional categories, Trout managed to hit 30 home runs, collect 83 RBI, and score a league leading 129 runs. So far, Trout has yet to lead any of these categories and his offensive prowess seemingly does not match up with the likes of Cabrera, Hamilton, or even Bronx second basemen Robinson Cano. However, when the season is examined completely and to its fullest extent, Trout begins to look more favorably as a hitter. His Offensive WAR (8.6), OPS+ (171), OWn% (.786), WPA (5.3), RE24 (56.5) all lead the league. He is not leading any of those categories by mistake and all point to his extreme value from the batter's box. And to those who do not to want look up the specifics of what each of those statistics mean (which are available in the glossary), the evidence shows that Mike Trout has had among the best offensive production in the league. His offense is quite comparable to Miguel Cabrera from a value standpoint and is essentially a deadlock between the two. Now remember that Trout has posted most of these numbers while being 20 years old (he turned 21 on August 7) and missed the first 20 games of the season while he toyed with minor league pitching (.403/.467/.623 in AAA Salt Lake). To further stress his absurd youth, double-A players have an average age of 22. Furthermore, realize that if he was like any normal 20-21 year old in the majors, he should be struggling against the best pitchers on the planet while trying to survive the everyday grind that is the major league season. Clearly, he has done more than survive this season. However, offense is only one side of the game and the game is influenced by more than just the actions from a rectangle with a chalk exterior. It is these other aspects of the game that allow Trout's star to shine even brighter. 

            On the basepaths, the "Millville Meteor" clearly is a freak, as I say this with the utmost respect and awe. To start, Trout leads all of baseball with 49 stolen bases, three more than Toronto's Rajai Davis. Yet, the risk of getting caught stealing often outweighs the benefit of actually stealing the base. Too many caught stealings are detrimental to an offense, no matter how many bases are successfully stolen. Whereas Davis has a decent 78% success rate, Trout once again excels in this fashion of the game with the highest success rate among those with at least 32 steals (91%). This innate ability to not get thrown out allows for additional opportunities to score and help his team win in a way most ballplayers simply cannot do. Also, Trout is among the top ten in extra bases taken (65%), run scored percentage (44%), and ultimate base running (5.0). His 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale additionally allows Trout to reach base on infield singles at an advanced rate, accumulating 25 infield hits this past season. This evidence only further cements Trout's status as one of the most dangerous men in baseball on the base paths. 

            Roaming the pasture of centerfield in Angel Stadium is no easy task, but Mike Trout has looked like a seasoned veteran out in the field. From robbing home runs, to making head-first diving grabs, Trout has been among the most exceptional outfielders in the league. In terms of total zone fielding runs, Trout is third best in the American League among outfielders and also has 2.2 defensive wins above replacement, good for 10th in the entire league. With what cannot be comprehended by the statistics, Trout visibly passes the eye test with his superb jumps and closing speed. Whereas some players' game only offers one dimension, Trout's incredible ability to hit, hit for power, run, field, and throw vaults him to among the best players in the game. Still don't believe my argument for Trout? Just take a look at the Wins Above Replacement leaders for a single season. Notice any of those names? Trout is in company filled with the immortals of the game and the greatest to ever step onto a diamond. For now, forget the MVP. Just realize the greatness of Mike Trout.
 


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