Holy Cow, Mike Trout!

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard the big news: top prospect Mike Trout has been promoted to the majors. He’s filling in now that center fielder Peter Bourjos has strained a hamstring and is expected to be out through the All-Star Break (and who knows for how much longer). In a season where we’ve already seen a wide range of top-rated prospects get promoted to the majors — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda, etc. — this promotion takes the cake; Trout is arguably the best prospect in baseball (only Bryce Harper can give him a run for his money), and he’s a mere 19 years old.

Most people weren’t expecting to see Trout with the Angels until 2012, but it’s tough to argue that he doesn’t belong in the majors right now. From all reports, his tools are out of this world, and he’s given the Texas League (Double-A) a thrashing this season to the tune of 9 homeruns, 28 stolen bases, and a .429 wOBA.

That doesn’t quite do Trout justice, though. If you need a bit more perspective on his awesomeness, here are some #TroutFacts:

• Trout was born in 1991, making him the first player promoted to the majors that was born that year. And you remember how young we all thought Starlin Castro was last season? When Mike Trout was born, Castro was already over a year old.

• Trout was seventh in the Texas League in OPS, and the players averaged 4 years older than him. Oh, and if we go by wOBA, Trout was the fourth best hitter in the Texas League — a whole 58% better than league average.

• When players get promoted to the majors as teenagers, that normally means they’re really, really good. This is the recent company you’re talking about: B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Felix Hernandez, Adrian Beltre, and Madison Bumgarner.

• But of course, if you want to be depressing, Karim Garcia, Edwin Jackson, and Rick Ankiel were also all promoted before they reached 20 years old. There are many more hits than misses among this group, but it goes to show that you can never really know, even with top-top prospects.

• Trout is young enough to be Jack McKeon’s grandson.

Classify this under “Things that are Obvious,” but I really like this move for the Angels. They’re sitting thick in the middle of a division race at the moment, only one game behind the Texas Rangers for first place, and while BPro only gives them an 18% chance of making the playoffs, they’re close enough that they might as well use the best options they have to maximize their roster this season. And even if they fall short of the playoffs this season, Trout’s promotion will surely inject some excitement into their fanbase and send the message that the organization wants to win this year.

But at the same time, I’m going to be very interested to see how the Angels manage Trout for the remainder of the season. Is he just up for a brief taste of The Show until Peter Bourjos is healthy, or will they be tempted to force him into their outfield this season? Considering how crowded the Angels’ current outfield is — and how much money they have invested in Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter — I can’t see Trout sticking up for long, unless the Angels unload someone at the deadline.

But then again….the Angels are wild cards. They took ill-advised gambles on Scott Kazmir and Vernon Wells, and they’ve handed out big money contracts to questionable, older players. They very well could decide to keep Trout up in the majors this season…and you know, depending how Trout transitions to the majors, it could make the Angels a better team in the short term. Bourjos is a terrific defender, but his offensive performance this season has been buoyed by a .364 BABIP. He’s a young player too and has plenty of upside, but at the same time, he’s certainly no Trout.

Could Trout outperform Bourjos’ .320 wOBA in center field? I have little doubt he could. Would it make the most financial sense for the Angels to make the switch? Eh, probably not. Will that stop them? I have no idea.

This is going to be a really fun situation to follow over the next couple weeks, and if nothing else, we’re going to get a short glimpse at one of the best prospects in all of baseball. What a weekend to be in Los Angeles (erm) Anaheim!




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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.

74 Responses to “Holy Cow, Mike Trout!”

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  1. Wes says:

    Anaheim

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  2. Darien says:

    Barry Larkin is young enough to be Jack McKeon’s grandson.

    +57 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Wes says:

    I don’t care about baseball anymore, I’m going to spend my entire paycheck at American Apparel’s website now.

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  4. William says:

    edwin jackson is a pretty decent player, at least as good as b.j. upton

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    • Oprah Winfrey says:

      Better than BJ Upton. He has been very good since going to the South Side. BABIP has killed him this season.

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  5. bsally says:

    As a Braves fan, allow me to suggest that they altruistically accept Bourjos to help clear space in that outfield.

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  6. Christo P. Ney says:

    Might be an even slyer play here as well, though not likely. Abreu’s 2012 option of $9M vests with 74 more PAs this year. This is in all likelihood a peek at Trout before being sent back down, but if he performs well, shows the ability/maturity to handle the call-up, there might be a miniscule chance Abreu gets moved before the vest, if there’s a taker.

    Tiny, tiny chance of that happening but an interesting and accelerated timetable for Trout right around the time Abreu approaches a guaranteed $9M payday.

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    • Robbie G. says:

      You could be right, but Abreu’s OBP is close to .400, and if he can finish the year with an OBP at or above .400, that’ll be the ninth consecutive year that he will have been able to do that. He’s obviously lousy in the field but, with Mike Trout, is he ever even going to play in the field again? Isn’t he just a full-time DH with Trout, Peter Bourjos, Torii Hunter, and Vernon Wells all on the roster?

      Of course, you do have all four of those OFs on the roster, and all four need to be starting somewhere, so it does appear that either Abreu, Bourjos, or Hunter will NOT be on next season’s roster, and the easiest way to make this happen is to deny Abreu the requisite number of plate appearances the rest of the way. Another way to do that, of course, is to hold on to Abreu and simply trade one of these three guys at the end of the season. Surely somebody out there would love to have Abreu as its everyday DH in 2012, especially if the Angels would more or less give him away (this winter, though, not now) and pitch in $4-$5 mil to help pay his salary on top of that. In which case, the question becomes: Is Abreu worth $4-$5 mil to the Angels in July, August, September, and possibly beyond? Surely he is, right?

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  7. atoms says:

    tony la russa is young enough to be jack mckeon’s grandson.

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  8. IdolsOfTheMind says:

    I believe Bumgarner had just tuned 20 when he was called up.

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  9. Snoth says:

    Steve Slowinski is one of the best writers on this site. Glad I got to read about Trout’s promotion from him.

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  10. maguro says:

    It came down to Trout, a midget or a woman, and Trout won out due to MLB’s rampant sizeism and sexism. For shame!

    +37 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mac says:

      So fish can play but women and dwarves can’t? Well I suppose it’s a step in the right direction.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Confucius says:

    Chuck Norris couldn’t bait Mike Trout’s line

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  12. elgato7664 says:

    Baseball History: 8/7/91
    - Scott Brosius Doubles & Homers in his first 2 Major League at-bats
    - Wally Joyner hits 2 Home Runs for the California Angels
    - Kevin Appier Outduels Roger Clemens & the Red Sox
    - Darren Lewis leads off the game with his first HR to score game’s only run, (Bud Black won the game)
    - Mike Trout born in Millville, NJ

    Where were they then:
    - Mike Scioscia was benched in favor of Gary Carter (the Dodgers were facing lefty Randy Myers)
    - Bobby Abreu was playing for the Gulf Coast League Astros
    - Ivan Rodriguez received a well-deserved day off (He had caught in 40 out of the Rangers’ previous 43 games)

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. jesse says:

    Some where Dave Cameron is nodding his head vigorously

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  14. rbt says:

    If you can’t settle on Los Angeles or Anaheim, just say Caliheimgeles.

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  15. Jay says:

    The first big leaguer who is younger than I am.

    Sigh.

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  16. Jonathan says:

    Julio Teheran? Wasn’t he born in 1991?

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Funny story, well not really, but something. I was watching a Texas League game with trout, this is Springfield, MO. Pretty racist, close minded town. Dude goes “I like trout because he’s actually 19, unlike those dominicans who are all 30″.

      I don’t think teheran is older than he says he is. I just thought the blatant racism was funny.

      Anyways I kinda like the Angels. Haren/Weaver is probably the best 1-2 combo. Even with crappy contracts to old men past their prime, the Angels have a lot of good-amazing prospects that are/were ML ready. Trout, Trumbo, Chatwood. I like the Angels.

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      • Anon says:

        It’s racist to observe that birthdays from some of those countries are unreliable? What?

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      • The Howling Fantods says:

        It’s racist to say that, since his is a damn foreigner, he must be lying about his age in order to compete with younger competition. Unlike that nice, upstanding white boy, who would never do a thing like that.

        Those illegals are coming to steal our jobs, and now they’re even coming for our baseball roster spots?

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      • Old Hoss says:

        Thank god racism doesn’t exist in the state of Georgia

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    • Chris says:

      Stop interjecting facts into this discussion.

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  17. Angel Pagan says:

    Jose Reyes played his first game at age 19. In his 2nd game, the next day, he was 20. Still counts, though.

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  18. Sultan of Schwinngg says:

    B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Felix Hernandez, Adrian Beltre, Madison Bumgarner, Karim Garcia, Edwin Jackson, and Rick Ankiel

    4 studs, 6 league average players; Nice names, so-so results. I’d be surprised if BA’s yearly top 5 for the past decade did not do just as well on average, if not better.

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    • batpig says:

      that’s some disingenuous “accounting” there!

      A-Rod = hall of famer, one of the 10 or 20 best players EVER
      Andruw = was on a HoF career path through age 30, 70+ career WAR, one of the greatest defensive CF of all time
      J Upton = STUD
      King Felix = STUD

      I infer that you think BJ Upton and Adrian Beltre are “league average players”? Because, like, you’re totally wrong. And Mad Bum is already better than league average at age 21.

      So a more accurate description would be one inner circle Hall of Famer, one borderline Hall of Famer, two of the brightest young stars in the game, three well above average players (with Bum still having potential for more), one average pitcher (EJax), and two flops (Karim and Ankiel). And, really, to be fair, Ankiel was on the verge of being one of the best pitchers in the game before his meltdown.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Romodonkulous says:

    Ahhh yes…allow the ridiculous headline puns to begin!

    Trout’s No Fish Out of Water!

    Trout w/ the Catch of the Day!

    Trout Swimming Upstream Quickly!

    Trout: More Enjoyable w/ a Glass of Win

    Trout…better than Salmons?

    Trout

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Chris says:

    Why is it even a little surprising that someone born a year after Starlin Castro is promoted to the majors a year after he is? Castro was roughly 2 months older than Trout at the time of their debuts. That’s impressive, but not ridiculous.

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  21. For those debating the call ups dates/ages of the players I listed, I got the list using the B-Ref Play Index. As far as I know, it’s all accurate, but you can double check the results if you’d like:

    http://bit.ly/plJ4Nl

    (“From 1994 to 2011, From Age 10 to 19, During first season , sorted by oldest”)

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  22. cuck says:

    To put his age in context. Jaime Moyer has been in Major Leage baseball 5 years longer than Trout has been alive.

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Yakuzafro says:

    At their last MiLB stops:
    Jason Heyward’s BABIP was .360
    Justin Upton’s was .335
    Pedro Alvarez’ was .331
    Buster Posey’s was .386

    Is it really fair to say their offense was “buoyed” by BABIP? At lower levels, more advanced prospects would be expected to feast on the lower quality pitching they’re seeing. They’re hammering the ball — not getting lucky.

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  24. west says:

    Ankiel was great his rookie year, then the playoffs happened.

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  25. Mark J. says:

    Bourjos’ wOba is also higher than both Wells and Hunter. He is young enough to get to play. Even if his bat stays around the same production, his defense is better than Hunter’s and Wells’. Trout is obviously the CF of the future, but Bourjos deserves to finish the year as a Starter. Would it be fair to comp him to Gardner?

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    • Turk's Teeth says:

      Sure, I think it’s fair to comp Bourjos with Gardner, especially defensively, and he plays the more difficult position.

      Bourjos is basically Darin Erstad, and there are worse things to be than Darin Erstad in his prime. He’s never going to be a pitch-taker, but he will have a couple surprising offensive seasons fueled by high BABIP, and he’ll be a perennial Gold Glove candidate in CF until his all-out style gets him injured one too many times.

      The author discounts Bourjos a bit due to a high BABIP (.364), but keep in mind, Bourjos sustained a BABIP of .357 or better three of his five seasons in the minors — he’s one of the five fastest players in the majors, and he’s an impeccable bunter. That BABIP is not far off the norm for him.

      The Angels would do well to have both Trout and Bourjos in the OF for as many years as they can. The promise of those two just draws into sharper relief the utter stupidity of the Wells trade.

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  26. Turk's Teeth says:

    It’s simply worth noting that Peter Bourjos has put up 4.2 WAR across his first 500 PAs in the Majors.

    Not a lot of rookies deliver that much value in their first season. Torii Hunter hasn’t delivered a season like that since 2002.

    The Angels have to play Bourjos.

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  27. Old Hoss says:

    Is it safe to say that Mike Trout could be the next Tim Salmon?

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  28. Giving_Chase says:

    Julio Teheran was born in 1991.

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  29. Bodhizefa says:

    I’d be curious to know if there was a good way to add bunt hits into the speed score. After watching Trout beat out what looked like a mediocre run-of-the-mill bunt last night, it got me wondering why bunts aren’t a part of the speed score calculation.

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  30. Bluebirdz says:

    I’m thinking that if the angels have no trouble taking on the financial risks of hunter and wells (espescially wells) then I can’t see them having problems of a couple million with trout

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  31. EDogg1438 says:

    Bourjos is basically Franklin Gutierrez, and everyone on this site loves him.

    They are the only 2 in the discussion for best defensive CF in the league, and they both are mediocre offensively, with ok power, but mostly BABIP-fueled.

    He should be in the lineup in CF, with Trout in LF, and Wells off the team, but that will never happen. Maybe the Angels could get a decent deal for Bourjos instead of just casting him off for Trout.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      He should be in the lineup in CF, with Trout in LF, and Wells off the team

      That was my primary objection to the Wells trade (not the finances).

      For a team that is supposedly based on “small ball”, advancing runners, defense, etc … having a run prevention OF of Trout-Borjous-Hunter seems ideal. Having Trout and Borjous on the bases also seems to be consistent with their preferences (of course they have to be on base).

      Interestingly enough, Wells only has a positive WAR due to his fielding metrics (and positional adjustment). Go figure. Batting he’s -0.6

      Borjous has been worth more batting runs than Wells.

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  33. amgarvey says:

    “Trout was born in 1991, making him the first player promoted to the majors that was born that year. And you remember how young we all thought Starlin Castro was last season? When Mike Trout was born, Castro was already over a year old.”

    So you’re saying one year ago he was pretty much the same age as Trout.

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