When it comes to a new age in baseball, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are kings of the castle.
The two young stars do not have a Magic vs Bird rivalry yet, but they will always be tied together. They consider each other to be friends, were teammates for the Scottsdale Scorpions last fall, were brought up to the pros on the same day in April this year, both played in the All-Star game and now they are both winners of the Rookie of the Year for their prospective leagues.
Baseball’s next generation is officially here.
Trout, only 21 years old, won the AL Rookie of the Year unanimously. The only other players to win the AL Rookie of the Year were: Evan Longoria, Nomar Garciapara, Derek Jeter, Tim Salmon, Sandy Alomar Jr., Mark McGwire and Carlton Fisk. Yeah, not a bad group to join.
The award may only be the beginning for Trout. Trout is a finalist for AL MVP and is a serious contender to take home the award.
Trout hit .326 with 30 home runs and 83 RBI. The speedster also managed to swipe 49 stolen bases and score 129 runs. He was in a class of his own among all other rookies and received the maximum 140 points to be named top rookie in the AL.
A player that slipped to the 25th overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, certainly was not seen as a future Rookie of the Year and possible MVP in the same year. The Angels may one day be seen as getting the steal of a lifetime with their selection of Trout.
The Angels outfielder has always had high hopes, but never had the pressure that Harper was given.
When Harper was just 16 he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline “CHOSEN ONE.” The magazine dubbed him baseball’s LeBron James and kids everywhere were copying Harper’s massive amount of eyeblack.
Now after turning 20 less than a month ago, Harper is considered the best rookie in the NL. The Washington Nationals outfielder took home the award after receiving 16 out of 32 first-place votes and beat out Wade Miley 112 to 105.
Harper, selected as the top pick in the 2010 amateur draft, was a huge spark for the young Nationals. He hit .270 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI on the year. Harper also showed his speed by stealing 18 bags and scoring 98 runs.
The two young stars are baseball’s new generation, but bring plenty of flashes of the past in their game.
Trout’s combination of speed, power and defense is of Hall of Fame caliber. People have tried to make plenty of comparisons, but Trout best compares to Mickey Mantle.
Mantle hit moonshots that surpassed 600 feet, chased down fly balls like a gazelle and could have been the fastest player to run the bases if it was not for injuries.
New age statistics reminds us of the past with Trout. This season, Trout had a 10.7 WAR and only five outfielders in the history of the American League have ever done that. The group consists of: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Carl Yastrzemski and now Mike Trout.
Harper was already a YouTube sensation before this year with his 500-foot bombs in Tropicana Field, but now his praise is much more rewarding. The prodigy was praised for his hustle and passion for the game all year.
He too possesses the power of a Mantle or Reggie Jackson, but even more exciting is his grit like a Ty Cobb or Pete Rose. Harper hustled out every ball, stole home and even threw a few too many helmets.
Harper’s fire can still be out of control, but when used right, Harper is a disaster for his opponent.
Be excited baseball fans. The next generation of baseball is here and a budding rivalry of Trout and Harper can be one to watch for the ages.