Mike Trout: Comparing His Rookie & Sophomore Seasons For The LA Angels

By Randy Holt
Mike Trout
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the focal points for the Los Angeles Angels this winter is going to be what they plan to do with Mike Trout. For the second straight offseason, they’ll be able to choose what he might make for the 2014 season, as he passes through his final winter before becoming arbitration eligible.

Before we discover what the Halos will end up paying Trout, or if they might be able to pull off the extremely necessary long term extension, it’s definitely worth exploring whether or not he was more successful during his rookie or his sophomore season with the club.

Trout burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2012, and immediately skyrocketed to the ranks of the league’s elite. He finished the season as not only the American League Rookie of the Year, but also ignited a debate between old and new school baseball stats, finishing second in the race for the American League Most Valuable Player award.

While Trout will certainly factor into the race for the AL MVP in these next few weeks, and could garner a few first place votes, he’s pretty unlikely to win the award. That’s not necessarily his fault, as his second year with the Angels represented anything but a sophomore slump.

In fact, much of what Trout did in 2013 was even better than what he did in 2012. It’s important to note that both seasons were absolutely stellar years. He didn’t fall off at all, for the most part, in his followup to that brilliant rookie season. Overall, his first two seasons have represented one of the better first two years of any player in Major League history.

The 2012 version of Mike Trout actually appeared in 18 less games than he did this season. Trout’s slash line in 2012 was at .326/.399/.564/.963. That’s a pretty excellent set. Yet, somehow he outdid those figures in 2013, going for .323/.432/.557/.988. His ability to get on base was simply absurd in 2013, and his 110 walks, nearly 40 more than he had in 2012, were tops in the AL.

The strikeout numbers were similar in total, but he did actually manage to lower his k-rate about three percent. For those of you scoring at home, that’s more walks, less strikeouts, and an on-base percentage that was over 30 percent greater than it was during the 2012 season.

Trout’s power numbers did slip a bit, but that was to be expected. He hit three less home runs in 2013, going for 27, while knocking in 93 runs, which was was 14 more than his rookie year. Looking at the advanced numbers, his wOBA was at .423, 14 points higher than the previous year, while his wRC+ was an absolutely absurd 177, 11 points greater. Overall, he posted a 10.1 offensive WAR, but his defensive WAR actually ended up in the negative. That’s one major difference.

All in all, you can’t look at either year and say, with any sort of certainty, that one was better than the other. However, at the same time, you have to like what he was able to do in terms of walking more and getting on base more, even if he didn’t hit the ball over the fence as much, or steal as many bases. The defensive play should get back to where it was next season. Make no mistake, this is a five-tool guy, and the argument could very easily be made that the Angels have the best all-around player in the game in Mike Trout.

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