Fantasy Baseball: Mike Trout over Bryce Harper

The callup of top prospects Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have put fantasy baseball players into a frenzy.

In deeper mixed leagues or AL/NL Only formats, the two outfield phenoms were likely already owned, but there are plenty of shallow mixed leagues in which both players were available. If I had my pick between the two, I’d take Trout because he’s better prepared for the majors and is more likely to stick on the 25-man roster the rest of the year.

Harper has been on magazine covers since he was a 17-year-old high school kid in Nevada. He was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft and the hype that follows has made him the more recognizable name. As of this morning, Harper is owned in 60.3 percent of ESPN leagues and 61 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Trout slipped all the way to the 25th pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, but has played like a once in a generation player ever since. As I write this, Trout is owned in just 27.6 percent of ESPN leagues and 42 percent of leagues on Yahoo.

Clearly, I’m in the minority here, but I prefer Trout and it’s not even close. Trout is a year older than Harper, which means he has more minor league experience (1,312 plate appearances for Trout to just 534 for Harper). Plus, Trout even has Major League experience, as he played 40 games at the end of last season for the Angels.

The thing that really pushes me toward Trout is I believe he has now played his last minor league game. Trout has been white hot, hitting .403 with a 1.091 OPS in his first taste of Triple-A. Over 286 career games in the minors, he has hit .342 with a .941 OPS. The bat’s ready, he’s got elite speed and is a plus defensive outfielder. There’s nothing left for him to prove.

Harper, on the other hand, was hitting just .250 with a .708 OPS and six extra base hits in 20 games at Triple-A. He was a catcher throughout high school and his one year of college, so both his bat and his defense could use a little more seasoning. Just the fact that he’s ready for a cup of coffee at the MLB level at just 19-years-old is astonishing, but I would expect him to struggle, much like Trout did last season.

Whatever your thoughts on these guys, and no matter how well they play this early in their careers, there’s no doubting these are two of the most talented hitting prospects baseball has ever seen blossoming at the same time. Their careers will be forever intertwined. They’ve been ranked on the same top prospect lists, even played on the same Arizona Fall League team (as pictured above) and now have been called up on the same day.

The arrival of Trout and Harper mark the end of a couple on going sagas for their respective teams. The Los Angels Angels finally cut ties with disgruntled veteran Bobby Abreu, releasing the 38-year-old. The Washington Nationals made the move to put fan favorite Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list after monitoring the third baseman’s sore shoulder since last Friday, April 20.

The Angels play at Cleveland Indians, today at 1:05 p.m. ET. Harper is expected to make his Major League debut in left field today in Los Angeles against Chad Billingsley and the Dodgers. Adding to the intrigue, Stephen Strasburg will be making the start for Washington tonight at 9:10 p.m. ET.

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