Since the end of the 2012 season, Fantasy Baseball owners have been reeling over just how great a season Angels center fielder had. And since last summer, people have been talking about him as a possible No. 1 overall pick in 2013 Fantasy Baseball leagues. While some are taking him that high right now, most are looking at Mike Trout as a top-3 Fantasy pick, amidst the talents of Brewers OF Ryan Braun and Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera. I’m here to tell you –Trout should NOT be a top-3 pick!
I talk about this a little bit in the preface to my 2013 Fantasy Baseball Outfielder Rankings, but I thought I’d go a little deeper in this post.
Even BaseballHQ.com‘s Ron Shandler isn’t sure what to expect from Trout in his sophomore season. He touches on several subjects as the No. 1 tip in the e-book, “101 Fantasy Baseball Tips,” on sale now for 99 cents!
Interestingly, at the bottom of this article, I cite a link to Rotowire’s Chris Liss’ counterpoint to what Shandler and I think about Trout. It’s officially a hot-button issue!
Arguments for Mike Trout as a Top-3 Fantasy Pick
Before I tear this kid down, let’s show some props for why thousands are taking him so high, including most Fantasy Baseball writers.
- Trout had the best rookie season for a hitter since Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1911 – and Jackson was three years older than Trout at the time.
- From a Fantasy perspective, Trout had the best rookie season since the 2001 season from Ichiro Suzuki – who was five years older than.
- Statistically, Trout was the best player in baseball in 2012.
- Trout was the youngest player to steal 40 bases in a season since Ty Cobb in 1907.
- He was the first major leaguer to steal 45 bases, score 125 runs and hit 30 home runs in a season. (He’s also the first to hit above .320 with 30 or more homers and 45 steals in one year.
- Only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle have posted higher WAR than Trout’s 10.7 as 25-year-old players or younger.
- Trout averaged more Head-to-Head Fantasy points than any other player, including AL Triple-Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.
- He did all of the above in just 139 games.
Arguments Against Mike Trout as a Top-3 Fantasy Pick
Now let’s look at some of the reasons why I’m leery of taking the 22-year-old before other veterans.
Last season, #Angels OF Mike Trout looked like an NFL RB. He looks more like a FB now, after gaining 10-15 lbs. He reported at 240 lbs.
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) February 14, 2013
- We don’t know how Trout will react after an entire offseason of people telling him he’s the best player in baseball.
- You’ve likely heard a lot recently about Trout’s weight gain in the offseason, with Los Angeles Times beat writer Mike DiGiovanna saying Trout looked more like an NFL fullback than the tailback he looked like in 2012.
- The 40 pounds he reportedly put on is likely overshooting the real number by 20 or 30 lbs. And Trout is a physical specimen, who at 20 years old, can likely shed excess weight quickly. But it’s one more distraction for the youngster to deal with off the field, dealing with question after question about his weight, and we just don’t know how he reacts to things like that yet.
- There’s a reason why you don’t see many .325 hitters smack 30-plus home runs. It’s rare. Very rare. Over the past five seasons, only seven different players accomplished that feat, along with Trout. Only Cabrera and Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen did it last season. Braun and Cabrera are the only ones to do it in 2011. Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton and Cabrera (again) did it in 2010. Albert Pujols was the only guy to do it in 2009, as well as in 2008, when Manny Ramirez joined him in the .325-30 club.
- Speaking of the .320-30 club, Trout joins Mel Ott, Alex Rodriguez and Ted Williams as the only players to do so in their 20-year-old season.
- While only two players have had a more successful stolen-base success rate than Trout’s 92.5 percent (Max Carey in 1922 and Jimmy Rollins in 2008), it’s highly unlikely that rate will remain as high in 2013, as pitchers and catchers will pay more attention to him on the basepaths.
- Speaking of steals, are the Angels really going to run him as much as they did last season with Josh Hamilton and Pujols at the plate?
- Trout has likely been dealing with tons of endorsements, commercials and other things (like a Super Bowl commercial) taking his mind away from preparing for the coming season. We’ll see quickly if that has any effect.
- There are 14 other teams in the American League that have spent much of the offseason figuring out ways to beat him.
There are too many other players with more success in recent years to go off of than to rely on such a young player. If you draft him in the top three, you are essentially saying, “I think he can duplicate one of the greatest seasons in baseball history.” You might even think he’ll have a little regression, but not a lot. But are you really going to spend a top-three pick on a player that still hasn’t played a full season in the major leagues?
UPDATE: Remember when I mentioned Shandler!?! Well, in my inbox this morning I got the “Baseball HQ Friday” report (just an awesome weekly email you can get for FREE, by the way), and there’s a link in there to an article called 12 Reasons Not to Draft Mike Trout on March 7th, beating me by more than a day. I didn’t see this article when I wrote this, but I’m LITERALLY a day late — and a dollar short — once again! Definitely check this out, as he points out many more fanalytical reasons to avoid Trout at the top of the draft.
The arguments against taking Mike Trout as a top-3 Fantasy pick are enough for me to let others do the gambling. The third overall pick is not a gambler’s spot.
— David Gonos (@davidgonos) March 9, 2013
Chris Liss from Rotowire.com and SiriusXM Radio did a great rebuttal on why the arguments by Ron Shandler and I are poppycock! Just a well-thought out piece, with lots o’ stats and solid reasoning … Too bad he’s wrong. #OOHHHHHHHHH-NO-HE-DITN’T!!!
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.