As you might expect, Mike Trout was a hot-button topic at the recent First Pitch Arizona Fantasy Baseball Symposium. Let’s cut to the chase as we all agree Trout is in for some regression. The question is how much?
Many pundits, present company included, cite Trout’s exceedingly high BABIP and HR/FB. His .383 BABIP was third amongst all hitters with at least 500 plate appearances. A stellar line drive rate of 22% certainly helped that mark, but .383 is a number that will be hard to repeat. The rookie’s 21.6% HR/FB nestled him just below Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano and just above Chase Headley and Josh Willingham. That’s some pretty lofty company and Trout will be hard-pressed to return to that level next season.
On the flip side, Trout’s K% of 21.8 is pedestrian and his FB% is quite low at 33%. Keeping in mind home runs are hits too, Trout’s average is due for a dip as he is going to get fewer hits on balls in play as well as a drop in homers. The associated production will piggy-back on top of all this, lowering his counting stats across the board. Well, at least the rate of his counting stats will be less; he did miss April so with more games comes more production.
With all that said, here’s the rub. Many analysts will proclaim Trout’s rookie campaign as lucky, citing the above metrics (BABIP and HR/FB). But what if it was not simply luck, but also a very talented player performing at the upper end of his potential? Granted, Trout no doubt enjoyed some good fortune, but the strong possibility exists that his skills fell on the good end of the bell curve. Keep in mind skills are not static, but rather a range. We attempt to prognosticate the midpoint, or most likely occurrence within that range, but it is quite conceivable a player performs better or worse than that mark with no luck involved. His expected skills can fluctuate that much.
With that as a backdrop, I’d like to pose the same question Ron Shandler polled the participants of his Five Year Futures Draft at last weekend’s First Pitch Arizona and that is, do you feel we have seen Trout’s career season? Ron was fairly adamant we had, as were 11 of the panelists. Only one came out and said he believed we have not yet seen Trout’s best season. That person would be this guy.
Here’s the deal. Health permitting, Trout has 12-15 more tries to better his 2012 numbers. I’m not saying 2012 will be anywhere close to his average season. What I am saying is I believe that Trout will in fact enjoy another season as good if not better than his rookie campaign. He’ll also disappoint his fantasy owners a couple of times over the next decade when his skills fall at the lower end of the bell curve of potential or he suffers some ill fortune.
What say you?