Is Mike Trout worthy of a top selection?
In 2012, the Angels' Mike Trout recorded a historic rookie season, nearly winning Most Valuable Player while electrifying fantasy baseball owners en route to Rookie Of The Year. The natural question that comes with such success is....can he do it again?
Duplicating those numbers is never easy, especially when a player like Trout made everything look so easy. Trout finished the 2012 season with a batting average of .326, 182 hits, 129 runs, 30 home runs, and 49 stolen bases. Trout became the first player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases and score 125 runs in a single season. He broke records and won awards in one of the most impressive rookie seasons in the history of baseball.
Its perfectly common to be skeptical that a player could duplicate those numbers while avoiding a sophomore slump. That skepticism is enhanced when a player balloons up in the off-season.
Trout was listed at 210 pounds to start last season and is said to have finished the season roughly weighing around 225 to 230. Trout reported to camp this season weighing 241 pounds. That is more than Albert Pujols weighs.
Last fall, Trout looked chiseled while resembling a Greek god. Now, Trout looks like a former high school quarterback that went to college and gained the 'freshmen 20' while eating pizzas and attending keggers and now looks more like a chubby fullback.
Supporters will point to Trout's mass as proof that he will have more power and compare him to Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion; who gained weight and hit a career high 42 homers. However, a player cannot put on that much extra weight and not expect to be a tad slower and not lose a step.
Trout cannot stay the same size and expect to steal 49 bases again. Its nearly impossible. Maybe Trout is going the route of Willie 'Mays' Hayes from Major League II and cares more about power this season and less about running and stealing bases.
Trout scoffs at the critics and is quoted as saying "I'll lose five to 10 pounds during spring training, so I felt coming in heavier would help for where I need to be throughout the year. I feel great." This might certainly be the case and perhaps it will all work out in the end. Still, Trout's speed was one of the most valuable assets to fantasy owners last season. That attribute will definitely come in handy when Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are batting behind him in the line-up.
As of now, Trout is still projected as the top overall prospect in most fantasy baseball rankings. Does the new added weight change that projection? Its very doubtful. Fantasy owners should still feel confident that Trout will be among the elite in 2013, but don't expect him to duplicate the 2012 season.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter@JoshuaCaudill85 or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.