Looks like I’m a little late to the game. While everyone wanted Mike Trout to begin 2012 with the Los Angeles Angels, when he began in Triple A no one expected an April call up. The Angel’s outfield was too much of a mess, but things can quickly change, and I have to think that a man child named Bryce Harper contributed to the decision. Who wants their can’t miss prospect to be overshadowed by another team’s can’t miss prospect when jersey sales are in jeopardy?
So Mike Trout is in the Majors, but what does this mean for your fantasy baseball team?
First, grab him he’s available (he’s currently owned in 55.7% of ESPN leagues. Do NOT drop an important piece of your team for him, because as a rookie he won’t hold a ton of value this year (think 5th outfielder in standard leagues). But if you have a bench guy that is rarely getting into your lineup anyway, then he’s absolutely worth a stash, particularly in keeper leagues, where he’s an absolute gem.
What Trout has going for him is a really solid opportunity at playing time. This is key. You aren’t of value in fantasy baseball if you don’t get real life at bats. I know it’s obvious, but too often people overlook this.
Now that Trout has been called up, he’ll play. Bobby Abreu being cut opens up probably 250 ABs for him. No one expected Peter Bourjos to struggle this bad, but his struggles open up 100 or so ABs for Mike Trout. Factor in rest for other players like Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells, plus ABs as a DH and you can see that Trout will get enough looks to be of value, even if it’s slight this season.
It’s true that the Mark Trumbo experiment has failed just about as badly as New Coke, and, honestly, the entire team arrangement of the Angels thus far has felt like a really weird social experiment. So Trumbo will play some in the outfield, but the tea leaves are saying that the Angels will be dealing someone for relief help very soon. Long story short, Trout will get at bats this season.
Trout’s practical fantasy value this year will be in his speed. He’s adjusting to Major League pitching so the average will hover low (he’ll be a high average hitter in the future) and he won’t live into his 20-22 home run potential at all this year. But let’s talk about his speed!
I was watching his first game as an Angel. He’s in left field and a ball is hit toward the line on a rope so there is absolute zero chance that any human gets to the ball. But he’s so quick on his jump that he actually takes an unbelievable dive at the ball. He comes up short of the ball, but he hops back to his feet and fishes the ball out of the corner before even an average left fielder would’ve made it to the line.
Why would I tell you about a failed catch, especially when defense doesn’t do you a lick of good in fantasy baseball? I honestly jumped off my couch when I saw the play. His speed, athleticism, explosion, talent and quickness jump out, grab you by the shoulders, and give you a shake.
On just speed alone, he’ll bunt his way on base, he’ll leg out infield hits, he’ll steal bases, he’ll turn doubles into triples, and he’ll score from first on singles. In fantasy baseball this means runs scored and stolen bases.
In summation, I’ll remind you that his true value and potential won’t come this year, so don’t drop an important player to roster him. But in keeper leagues he’s a steal (pun intended) and as someone who followed his career closely for the past couple of years, I get as giddy as a jr. high girl at a One Direction concert when I talk about him.