Hello, fellow seamheads. I have teamed up with Bryan Lutz to write a weekly piece titled Double Play. The purpose of this weekly blog (every Monday) is to recap and debate three topics. Although Bryan and I have similar philosophies when it comes to the game of baseball, we don’t agree on everything. Without further ado, here is our third edition of Double Play. We will debate about who will have the better season between Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, the Detroit Tigers, and talk about the biggest surprise through the first month of the season.
Who will have the bigger impact – Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?
MH: Two of the best prospects were recently called up to the majors this week – Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. These two outfielders will challenge for the title of the best player in the game some day, so it’s interesting to see who will have the better start to their careers. Harper has been hyped up for a long time, but he’s struggled in AA (724 OPS) and AAA (708 OPS). The 19 year old simply isn’t ready for The Show, and he isn’t likely to hit in his first tour of duty in the majors.
On the other hand, Trout has been fantastic in the minors. He’s currently posting a 1.091 OPS in AAA, and before that he simply destroyed pitchers in AA. His struggles in the majors last year as a 19 year old should serve as a warning to Harper – even the most talented teenagers struggle when playing against the best players in the world. Trout’s finally ready to hit in the majors, and for that reason I give him the edge in 2012 over Bryce Harper.
BL: Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are the future of baseball, but who will have the biggest impact this season? I say Bryce Harper, and here’s why.
While Trout might have a better season than Harper, it will be Harper that carries his team into the playoffs. The Los Angeles Angels slow start might already have cost them a playoff spot, because they are not nine games better than Texas Rangers. So to me, the Angels have already dug themselves a hole that is going to be difficult to climb out of.
Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals are right in the thick of things in the NL playoff picture, and Bryce Harper can only help that putrid offense. If the Nationals stay afloat in the NL East, it will because of Bryce Harper, considering how bad their offense is right now without Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman.
There is definitely a lot of pressure on the 19-year phenom, but he has the right personality to overcome all the adversity and lead the Nationals to the playoffs.
Who is the biggest surprise of the 2012 season?
MH: Without a doubt, Jose Altuve is the biggest surprise of the 2012 season. The 21 year old is generously listed as 5-7, but the young second baseman wields a powerful bat. He’s hitting 373 on the season, and his OPS is currently 984. He’s a big reason why the Houston Astros offence ranks fourth in runs scored in the National League.
While there are many surprise in 2012, Altuve is the biggest one because of the impact he’s had on the Astros. He was a talented player in the minors, but like Dustin Pedroia there were many critics who didn’t believe he could make it in the majors. While he won’t hit 373 the rest of the season, he’s done a fantastic job of proving that he can more then hold his own at the major league level.
BL: The biggest surprise of the season doesn’t have to be an under-the-radar type guy like Altuve. There are plenty of veterans who are having surprising seasons themselves. And for the biggest surprise of 2012, I look no further than number two, Derek Jeter, number two.
Someone forgot to tell the Captain he’s supposed to be washed up. Jeter –who turns 38 this June – is killing the ball for the Bronx Bombers. He is one of the few hitters that has an OPS over 1.000, already earning an 1.1fWAR. Now, granted, Jeter’s defense is still a liability, but the way he’s hitting the ball right now, it doesn’t really matter.
How good are the Detroit Tigers?
MH: Many expected the Detroit Tigers to cruise to a first place finish. But after 20 games, the Tigers are tied for second, a game out of first. Their 500 record isn’t very impressive, and it brings into question how good this team really is.
The Tigers are a lot better then they’re playing right now. Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello won’t have ERA’s higher then 8 and 6 as the season goes on, and Austin Jackson won’t continue to out homer Prince Fielder.
It’s early in the season, and whenever a player does poorly early on their struggles are magnified. But this is the same team that many predicted would win the Central, and there’s no reason to give up on them after a month of baseball.
BL: How good are the Tigers? Well, overrated and mediocre is a good way to sum them up so far in 2012. I’m not surprised whatsoever with the Tigers’ struggles so far this season.
Jhonny Peralta remembered he’s Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila remembered he isn’t Carlton Fisk, and outside of Justin Verlander their pitching is atrocious. Sure, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello are stinking the joint up. Please tell me something I don’t know.
It’s likely they will still win the division – because the AL Central is jokes – but it will be a quick exit for the Tigers in the playoffs.