And now we finally get to the projection you have all been waiting for. And now a player that needs no introduction…
2012 Stats: 639 PA, .326 AVG, .399 OBP, .564 SLG, 129 R, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB, 5 CS, 139 K, .409 wOBA, 170 OPS+, 10.0 fWAR
2013 ZiPS Projections: 695 PA, .282 AVG, .364 OBP, .507 SLG, 122 R, 29 HR, 83 RBI, 47 SB, 8 CS, 149 K, .371 wOBA, 142 OPS+, 7.4 fWAR
2013 Bill James Projections: 679 PA, .325 AVG, .402 OBP, .564 SLG, 122 R, 30 HR, 87 RBI, 53 SB, 9 CS, 135 K, .410 wOBA
2013 CAIRO Projections: 654 PA, .300 AVG, .383 OBP, .498 SLG, 104 R, 25 HR, 77 RBI, 46 SB, 10 CS, 134 K, .385 wOBA
2013 MWAH Projections*: 720 PA, .319 AVG, .393 OBP, .541 SLG, 138 R, 27 HR, 92 RBI, 60 SB, 8 CS, 125 K, .408 wOBA
*The MWAH projections are simply my best guess based off my own personal opinion and research (my wOBA calculation is approximate)
2012 in Objective Review:
What is there to say about Mike Trout that hasn't already been said? After spending most of the first month of the season in the minors, the wunderkind took the league by storm. With incredible speed, a highly advanced eye at the plate, an uncanny knack for making adjustments and an unexpected amount of power, Trout turned in what was probably the greatest season ever from a 20-year old. Even with the month he missed, Trout ended up posting the first 10+ WAR season in the majors since the days of Barry Bonds. The only thing that prevented him from winning the AL MVP in addition to the Rookie of the Year was the BBWAA's infatuation with the Triple Crown.
2012 in Revisionist History:
OK, enough ball washing with Trout. We've been reading plenty of that for months now. What I really want to talk about here are his potential flaws if only because they don't get discussed at all. Trout is phenomenal, but he isn't perfect, at least not yet. One of the strange anomalies in his season was that while he posted a .999 OPS against right-handed pitching, he only hit .862 against southpaws. That is probably more of a fluke than a flaw though as he had pretty even platoon splits in the minors.
A more troublesome and potentially real split problem was his numbers in August and September in which he had an .866 OPS and .900 OPS, respectively. BBWAA voters tried to use that against him in the MVP voting, which is utter bullshit, but on a more macro level, it is something of a legitimate concern. Those numbers are still pretty damn good, but they aren't quite MVP good. Those numbers that month might also be more representative of his true talent. Before August, his BABIP had been hovering at .400, which is very high even considering his elite speed. His BABIP took a dip in August and was still down a little in September. Otherwise his ISO and BB% were pretty much on par with his seasonal numbers. As you'll see if you dig into his projections, his ability to sustain a superhuman BABIP comes into question and plays a major role in just how good his expected numbers are.
Three Lingering Questions for 2013:
1) Is regression from Trout inevitable?
Considering how few 10+ WAR seasons there have been in history, one would think so. Then again, as I have argued before, there hasn't really been a Mike Trout before. Nobody thought he would do what he did in 2012, so who is to say that he can't get better in 2013? I will say though that by a WAR valuation, he might actually be able to collect extra value now that he is in left field where his supreme defense will outclass his peers more than he did when in center. The hard part will be replicating his offensive numbers, especially if his late season "slump" is any kind of indicator that the league is figuring him out.
2) Should he be the one moving to left field?
We covered the merits of Bourjos over Trout in center earlier this week, but there are more elements to the question. One of the perceived positives of him being in left is less wear and tear on his body, a body that the Angels will (hopefully) pay hundreds of millions of dollars to over the next twenty or so years.
3) Can Trout maintain a .380+ BABIP?
This is the big one. Obviously he is capable of it since he did it in 2012 and throughout his minor league career, but that doesn't quite mean it is sustainable. His great speed is a huge factor in his favor, but even other awesome speedsters have not been able to post a BABIP that high consistently. For example, Ichiro has only a .347 career BABIP and three season with a BABIP over .380. Ichiro doesn't hit for power though, which might make a Austin Jackson a better comp and he has sustained a .370 BABIP thus far in his career, so it isn't totally out of the question.
Three Irrelevant Questions for 2013:
1) Just how fat is Fat Mike Trout?
I'm kidding, of course… unless he gets fat again next off-season. If he does, then all the Andruw Jones jokes are coming back with a vengeance.
2) Should he have won the MVP last season?
Not a question in my mind. Stupid, BBWAA.
3) Can I think of a thin premise to post the video of his amazing catch against J.J. Hardy?
Yes, yes I can. And I just did.
2013 in Subjective Projection:
The two areas where projections have Trout falling back are the aforementioned BABIP and in his power output. The arguments against him pulling off a sky high BABIP again make a fair amount of sense, but the arguments about his power drying up don't quite hold up with me. The main argument is just that his power came in sooner than expected. That's about it. He basically is beating the scouts' original perception therefore his power has to come back to earth. Forget about the fact that he is a world class athlete and 6'2", 230 pounds of muscle. The guy is a beast, he should be able to crush the ball. But as you can see, I obviously projected a stark reduction in his home run output. That though I think will come more from pitchers staying away from his power.
We saw last season that pitchers originally thought that they could beat Trout up and in with a fastball. That worked for about a week before Trout adjusted and began mashing those pitches. It took awhile before the scouting report in him changed though. by the end of the year, pitchers essentially gave up and started pitching him away where he could still do damage, just not of the home run variety.
My theory is that Trout will adjust to that again and that is how he will keep a high average despite a small dip in BABIP. What I expect is less homers from Trout, but still plenty of doubles and triples and generally more balls in play thanks to fewer strikeouts. If I'm right, he should have the AL MVP in the bag, provided that the old guard of the BBWAA isn't still trying to stick it to bloggers and their fancypants numbers.