Apparently I'm a lightning rod. I speak about things, for instance, taking a position on a certain player, and the Twitterverse freaks out. Take for instance, my position on Mike Trout.
Here are some of the Tweets I posted yesterday about the Angels' phenom.
"Why is everyone so in love with Trout? I cannot fathom how so many people think he's a .340 hitter. Good luck with that. #StillGreat”
“By the way, saying Trout is hitting .276 the past three weeks or Buster Posey is hitting .402 last three weeks = just facts people.”
“I have NEVER said that Trout wasn't an excellent player. I've just tried to point out that his pace is unsustainable. That's it."
Obviously, you can likely imagine the response I received, and the majority of it can be summed up in with this response.
"He's having a historical season and you wonder why so many people love this 20 yr old phenom?".
My final response?
Sometimes I feel like Copernicus.
(Copernicus was the first to suggest that the Sun was at the center of the universe and not the Earth).
Let me be clear. Despite what some would have you believe...
I've never said that Mike Trout wasn't an elite talent.
I've never said that Mike Trout wasn't having a phenomenal year.
I've never said that Mike Trout didn't have the talent to be a multi-year All-Star.
I've never said that Mike Trout wasn't a player to build a dynasty team around.
I've never said that Mike Trout wasn't going to be a fantasy star.
What have I said?
Well, you read my main contention above with Trout, and that contention is the level of performance that he is throwing out there right now is not something he will be able to maintain. When I make that statement, people usually scream back: (A) but he's doing it, and (B) the kid is just a kid, he's only 21 years old, so he will certainly produce even better numbers as he ages. Let's take each contention head on.
(A) He's doing it.
Through 96 games, Trout is hitting .340 with 22 homers, 66 RBI, 99 runs scored, 38 steals and a .996 OPS. That is as good an all-around effort as we have ever seen. It is hard to look at those numbers in less than 100 games and come up with a real conclusion, so let's give Trout 160 games at that level. If he were to maintain that his current pace over 160 games, here would be his numbers:
.340 - 37 HRs -110 RBI - 155 runs - 63 steals
NO PLAYER WHO HAS EVER LIVED HAS PRODUCED THOSE NUMBERS IN A SEASON.
No player has ever gone .300-30-100-125-50 and Trout is on pace to surpass that level by .040 batting average points, seven homers, 10 RBI, 30 runs and 13 steals.
Only one player has ever even gone .300-30-100-100-50 in a season (Barry Bonds in 1990).
Is Mike Trout the greatest all-around talent that has ever played the game? That is what you are saying if you think that his current pace can be maintained.
You are also saying that the 40 games he played last season mean little to nothing. You know, when he hit .220 with four steals. Overall, Trout has hit .311 with 27 homers, 82 RBI, 113 runs and 42 steals in 136 career games. Is that a pace he could sustain? That is possible, but those are still epic numbers. Even if Trout were able to maintain that pace, look how much of a pull-back that would be from the pace that Trout is putting up there. There are also other facts to consider with Trout.
(1) Trout has a .389 BABIP. That number simply is not one that is sustainable from year-to-year. It just does not happen. Last year, the best mark in baseball was .380 by Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez.
(2) Trout has a 24.6 percent line drive rate. That is not a number one would expect to see year after year. Last year, six players bettered that mark led by Joey Votto's insanely high 27.5 percent mark. Still, for his career, Votto owns a 24.6 percent line drive rate. Obviously players can reach that level, but it is an elite mark.
(3) Trout has a 0.46 K/BB ratio. That is nearly the exact league average.
(4) Trout has a 1.20 GB/FB ratio. That is nearly the exact league average.
(5) His 21.4 percent HR/F rate is huge. Could he sustain that rate? It is certainly possible. But it is a big boy number.
(B) It is natural to assume that because of his age, Trout will only improve as a ball player.
I have no doubt that is true. He will learn what pitchers are trying to do to him, how to make adjustments quicker, and more importantly he will learn to understand/harness his talents even better. Despite all of that, there is no guarantee that his production will improve. It is logical to assume it will, but that does not mean it is so. For every Barry Bonds, a guy that greatly improved his production as a hitter as he aged, I can throw out there a Ted Williams who had his best season at 22, his third year in the league, when he hit .406 with a 1.287 OPS. Even with refinement in his game, it is not a certainty that Trout will ever produce at a higher level. That is just the truth of the matter.
So all I'm saying is this – be careful with Trout. He will still be a fantasy stud, there is no doubt about that, but be wary of expecting him to be this exquisite moving forward. He has set the bar so high that he has no where to go but down.
BY THE NUMBERS
.375: The batting average of Alex Avila in August. As a result of that 12-game run, in which he has 10 games with hits, Avila has pushed his batting average up to .299 over his last 27 contests. Still, after hitting .242 in the first half, his recent hot streak has only upped his average up to .260, well off his pace of .295 last year. Just for the heck of it – he has got a .267 batting average for his career.
2.51: The ERA of Chad Billingsley over his last seven starts. During that time frame, Chad has gone 5-2 for the Dodgers with a somewhat disappointing 6.94 K/9, but look at that walk total – six. That is a 1.16 BB/9 mark, and for a guy with a career mark that is literally three times higher at 3.75, that's damn impressive. In fact, Chad has done a much better job this season with the free passes as he has rebounded from a career worst 4.02 mark last season, down to a career best level at 2.58 (he has never had a mark below 3.24 before).
5.92: The league leading K/BB ratio of the Phillies' Cliff Lee. The lefty from Philly has an impressive 8.64 K/9 mark, a strong total, but it is the 1.46 BB/9 mark that sets him apart. That walk rate is the third best in baseball (Scott Diamond - 1.34 and Bartolo Colon - 1.43). Speaking of Lee, he is still having that up-and-down season that has led to a 3.83 ERA. Amongst pitchers who have ever had a K/BB ratio of 5.90 or better in a season of 162 innings, do you know how many have had an ERA as high as 3.83 in the same season? The answer is one, Curt Schilling, who had a 3.97 ERA with a 6.54 K/BB ratio for the Red Sox in 2006 (he also went 15-7).
13: The number of save opportunities that the Cubs' Carlos Marmol has converted in a row. On the year, he is 14 for 16, this after seasons of 38 and 34 saves. In 12 outings since the All-Star break, he has 14 Ks and a 1.54 ERA over 11.2 innings, but even with all the good, he still has a 1.37 WHIP as he has allowed 10 hits and six walks.
15: The number of RBI that Garrett Jones has in the month of August (15 games played). That RBI total is tied for third in the NL behind Chase Headley (21) and Adam LaRoche (16). He has been just as productive for a lot longer than 15 games. Over his last 32 contests, Jones has hit .315, an impressive mark for a guy who has hit .259 for his career. Jones has also gone deep seven times with 27 RBI, 20 runs, and a .976 OPS over those 32 games.
27: The NL-leading total of RBI over the last 30 days and it belongs to Chase Headley and Garrett Jones. I already spoke about Jones, so let's discuss Headley. Chase not only has that massive RBI total, in 28 games mind you, but he has also gone deep nine times, scored 19 runs, and hit .302. That hot streak has pushed his season-long fantasy line up to .274-19-73-62-12. There is only one other third base eligible player in the game who can match that line, and he has only played one game at third this year (he appeared in 36 games there last season). That player is Edwin Encarnacion (.293-30-80-72-13).
53: The league-leading strikeout total of Max Scherzer over the last 30 days. Given that he has thrown 38.1 innings, that would equate to a K/9 mark of 12.44, a massive number for a starting pitcher. On the year, he has an 11.39 mark, the best in the game of baseball (Stephen Strasburg is second at 11.17 and Yu Darvish is the only other hurler with a K/9 mark in the double-digits at 10.36). That 11.39 mark would tie Dwight Gooden's 1984 mark for the 12th best in baseball history for any hurler that tossed 162 innings in a season.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.