Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals entered the 2012 season with plenty of hype, and they did not disappoint by winning Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues. Trout had an outstanding, and nearly historic, season (.326, 30 home runs, 83 RBI, 129 runs scored, 49 stolen bases), which overshadowed Harper’s campaign (.270, 22 home runs, 59 RBI, 18 stolen bases, 98 runs scored).
Trout and Harper are both on track to be two of the best players in all of baseball, and top tier options in fantasy baseball, for many years to come. But is one a better fantasy option for 2013?
Takeaways And Trends
- Trout was an elite five-category producer for fantasy owners last season, but he had a BABIP (.389) and a fly ball rate (33 percent) that makes his batting average and home run total unlikely be be repeated this season.
- Trout’s minor league track record, with 21 home runs and 89 stolen bases in 2010 and 2011 combined, makes last season’s stolen bases look more repeatable than the home runs.
- Harper had an up-and-down season in 2012, hitting just .233 in July and August, but a strong finish (.330 with seven home runs in September) bodes well for 2013. On the other hand, Trout struggled late in the season (.257 with six RBI in September).
- Trout reported to Angels’ camp weighing 240 pounds, which may be a product of his physique filling out at a young age (21), but may also lead to fewer stolen bases this season.
- Trout and Harper had similar contact rates last season (Trout-75 percent; Harper-77 percent), which makes Harper’s batting average more sustainable and repeatable than Trout’s.
Trout and Harper are both elite options in keeper leagues, and owners in that format that managed to add each guy last year will surely protect them for as long as their league rules allow.
Trout is sure to be among the first players drafted in fantasy leagues, but some regression should be expected this season. He was just one stolen base away from becoming the third player in major league history with 30 home runs and 50 stolen bases in a season, and the other two (Barry Bonds, Eric Davis) never repeated that kind of production. Betting on a repeat of last season is unrealistic, but Trout should still be a significant contributor in all five standard fantasy categories.
Harper spent most of last season batting second in the Nationals’ lineup, but manager Davey Johnson has already indicated he will hit third this season. That should put him in prime position to drive in more runs, adding even more upside to his fantasy value.
Choosing between Trout and Harper is difficult, but Harper is the better choice in single-season fantasy leagues. Trout will have to put up numbers fairly similar to last season to provide a good return on an owner’s draft day investment, while Harper’s production is in line to take a significant step up this season.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.