Second helping of Trout turns out even better
Angels phenom follows stellar rookie year with historic sophomore campaign
One year after turning in one of the most impressive rookie seasons of all time, all Mike Trout did in his 2013 sophomore season was cement his place as the best all-around player in the game.
In just two seasons, Trout has already started to topple longstanding records -- not to mention, create some new ones. The Angels phenom has put his name next to a number of firsts over the past two years, while finishing second in the American League MVP race each season behind only Detroit's Miguel Cabrera.
Trout, with this past season, has already joined Willie Mays (1957-58) as the only two players in Major League history with at least two years with a .320 average, 25 home runs and 30 steals at any point in their careers. Trout on Aug. 7. turned just 22 years old.
"I think he's probably played -- I don't know about significantly better, but quite a bit better than last year," said now-former teammate Mark Trumbo, who was traded to the D-backs earlier this month. "And that's saying something, because his year last year was absolutely outstanding."
And yet, in many ways, his second season was even better.
Trout led the AL in runs (109) and walks (110) in 2013, while tallying a .323 average, 27 home runs, 97 RBIs, 75 extra-base hits and 33 stolen bases.
With those numbers, he became the first player in AL history with 100 walks, 70 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases in the same season, as well as the first AL player with 25 home runs in addition to those 30-plus steals and 100-plus walks. Trout was also the youngest player in big league history -- and the first in Angels franchise history -- with back-to-back 20-homer, 30-steal seasons.
Of all his eye-popping numbers, Trout takes the most pride in reaching triple digits in both runs scored and walks.
"The runs -- scoring a lot of runs for the team," Trout said when asked what he was most proud of this past season. "And the walks, I like walks. It makes me feel like I have more discipline this year, not swinging if I don't get my pitch."
Making his accomplishments all the more impressive are all the outliers Trout faced this past season. Along with scoffing at a potential sophomore slump, Trout had to adjust to moving away from the leadoff spot to hit second and then third after Albert Pujols' season-ending injury. He also had to become comfortable alternating between left field and his natural center-field position, all while facing pitchers and defenses much more aware of his all-around talents.
Through it all, Trout placed his name alongside some of the best to ever play the game. With his 10.4 fWAR, he joined Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Mays and Barry Bonds as the only players with back-to-back double-digit fWAR seasons. He also joined Cobb and Rickey Henderson as the only players with 75-plus steals in the AL before age 22.
And the list just goes on and on.
"Frankly, his skills are so advanced, and his understanding of the game is so advanced. He really is a tremendous player in all aspects of the game," said Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto. "The maturity that he shows on the field and in his preparation are so far beyond -- you wouldn't even think of him in the context of having just turned 22 years old. His maturity and feel to play the game at the highest level are far beyond that."
As far as specific individual highlights from 2013, Trout became the youngest AL player to hit for the cycle on May 21 and later started the All-Star Game at Citi Field.
"Just seeing his talent, you have to really shake yourself, because he's 21 years old," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Trout's cycle, prior to the phenom's 22nd birthday. "He has so many ways that he can help you win a game."
As for what to expect in 2014, Trout said he hopes to simply continue providing the same type of production he has through his first two record-setting seasons.
"I'm just going to keep doing this. I'm not going to change my approach," Trout said. "I'm having fun. I'm happy with what I'm doing."