Friday, May 31, 2013

By Robert Cunningham, Staff Writer -

Mike Trout is awesome.

All of us are aware of his capability, especially at such a young age. It is almost unprecedented in baseball history.

For a while now I have been toying with the idea of a “periodic article series”  focusing solely on Mike Trout and his past and hopefully, many, future accomplishments.

I wanted to make the series witty, fun, and, most importantly, informative about Trout’s current and potential achievements on the field. If I go 1 for 3, in this endeavor, I’ll be happy (and more importantly hitting for average).

As with all monumental and miniscule ideas (your choice) I had to put the electrons that are firing across my brain onto paper or, in this case, electrons firing across the Internet.

The real problem became what to name the series? I like Mike Trout a lot as I am sure many of you do as well. It is possible that Mike will read this article and I want him to be impressed.

In fact I want him to be so impressed that he says, “That Robert sure is a good guy…. I wonder if he would be my friend?” I’m sure Mike needs a good friend in his life and I certainly feel, like all of you, that I am well qualified and will successfully meet his friend criteria.

I mean just look at what we already have in common! We both are, currently, in the state of California, we both are adored by our fans (right tdawg!.... tdawg?), and we both gained weight during the offseason!

So I thought, “Self, why don’t you just go ahead and assume that Mike Trout will want to be your friend!” I quickly began brainstorming article titles and came up with some real gems like “I want to be liked by Mike” and the illustrious and clever “Friends with Trout”.

As time (quickly) passed I began to realize how presumptuous it was of me to assume that Mr. Trout would have the time or energy to invest in our future friendship. I quickly realized that being friends with Trout will probably never happen (or could it? Mike? Please!.... Wait, does that sound desperate?).

I quickly shelved those efforts and decided to refocus on the periodic series that will highlight Mike Trout fun facts and possible milestones that number 27 could potentially break from a historical perspective.

Recently Mike hit 3 triples over a seven game span. The fact that Mike is leading the league in triples intrigued me enough to look at how many doubles, triples, and home runs he has for the season so far and, if he continues at this pace, what totals will he finish with at the end of the season.

First of all Mr. Trout (or would you just prefer Mike?) has made 237 Plate Appearances (PA’s) this season and currently has 14 doubles, 6 triples, and 10 home runs over 54 games played.

At Mikey’s current pace (4.61 PA’s/Game) he will eclipse 700 PA’s by the end of the season assuming he plays in all of the remaining games (Scioscia may sit him a game or two but I doubt it).

If he maintains that pace in both PA’s and extra-base hits, Mike would end up with over 40 doubles, 17 triples, and 30 home runs! Fantastic production!

So, the next questions that popped into my little brain were: How does this compare to other players, who are 22 years or younger, throughout the hallowed ages of baseball? Are there any other players who accomplished this trifecta in previous seasons?

To FanGraphs we go!

To help narrow the list down I began with the always hard to hit triple. Since 1871 there have only been 33 separate player seasons, age 22 or younger, where a player has hit 17 or more triples in one season.

Only one player, Mr. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, had more than one season (two, to be exact, in 1911 and 1912) above the 17 triple mark. The rest of the list is dotted with familiar names such as Cobb, Musial, Vaughan, Crawford (Carl and Sam), Hornsby, Reyes, et. al.

Next I took that list of 33 players and identified those that also hit 30 or more HR’s and….. Whoa! Stop and take a deep breath!

Since 1871 there has NEVER been a player, 22 years or younger, who has hit 17 or more triples AND 30 or more home runs! In fact there has never been a player, 22 years or younger, who has hit 17 or more triples AND 20 or more home runs!

The uniqueness of this potential accomplishment made me temporarily expand the search to see how many players, no matter what their age, have actually accomplished a 17+ Triple/30+ Home Run season.

As it turns out, there are precious few: Willie Mays (20/35) in 1957, Jim Bottomley (20/31) in 1928, Jimmy Rollins (20/30) in 2007, Stan Musial (18/39) in 1948, and the legendary Lou Gehrig (18/47 and 17/41) who had two seasons, in 1927 and 1930, at that level.

That’s it! Only five players have ever accomplished a season where they hit 17 or more triples along with 30 or more home runs!

This just shows how rare it is to find a true power/speed combination in baseball. Many players are hyped (and some rightfully so) with this tag but when you look at the names above you can better appreciate what true talent really is.

So, with that little interesting sidebar analyzed, I will now return to our regularly scheduled discussion.

At the ripe age of 22, Mike Trout has another chance to make a unique mark on baseball history. His current pace of a 40/17/30 double, triple, home run season has never been seen in the annals of baseball history by someone so young.

Oh and let’s not forget about the doubles comparison. Compared to the five players who have accomplished a 17+/30+ Triple/HR season how does Trout’s doubles pace compare to those players?

Mays had a 26/20/35 2B, 3B, HR season. Bottomley had a 42/20/31 season. Rollins went  38/20/30 in his lone season. Musial had a 46/18/39 season. Finally, Gehrig had a 52/18/47 and a 42/17/41, season, respectively.

Clearly Trout is on a similar doubles pace as the group he is chasing. Mike has the chance, once again, to join some elite company in the history of baseball. If he can continue at this pace he will become only one of six players to ever finish a season with such an abundance of extra base hits.

Also, let me point out one last thing. Only two of those players, Mays and Rollins had more than a dozen stolen bases. Willie had 38 and Rollins had 41 in their respective seasons. Trout is currently on pace for 35 stolen bases, which just heightens the potential greatness that this season can bring.

I’m sure Trout will inspire me to write another “Trends with Trout” article in the near future, but until then continue to enjoy the young man who is playing baseball the way it was meant to be played and cheer him on to another potentially history-making season! Go Angels!

Love to hear what you think!

Listen to "A Fish Like This" Tribute song to Mike Trout's Greatness

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