Pick Your Poison: Bryce Harper Or Mike Trout

by Michael Theed | Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2013
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Harper and Trout

Trout and Harper as teammates in the Arizona Fall League.

Over the recent years, baseball has been infused with a huge pool full of highly talented youth. However, it seems that two individuals stand out above the rest. This particular pair of young studs, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, have often drawn a comparison to each other, and spawned many an argument over who people would rather have on their team.

The 2012 NL and AL Rookie of the Year winners were highly touted prospects in the Minors, with Harper pulling in the number one spot in the pre-season rankings in both 2011 and 2012 by Baseball America. In those years, Trout held spots two and three, respectively.

Both players thus far have shown off why they charted so highly in the prospect rankings before the 2011 and 2012 seasons, with both winning the Rookie of the Year awards for their respective leagues last season. Trout and Harper both put up impressive power numbers for their ages (20 and 19, respectively) in the 2012 campaign, although Trout’s home run total appeared to be unexpected.

Falling just one steal short of joining the 30/50 club, which would have made him just the third player ever to accomplish that feat after Barry Bonds and Eric Davis, Trout’s impressive season gained him MVP runner-up honors, losing out to the first triple crown Triple-Crown winner since 1967, Miguel Cabrera. Had Trout been able to net the MVP award as well, he would have been the third player to ever win both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in the same season, with Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki being the two to do it. Trout finished his 2012 batting .326 with 30 home runs, 83 runs batted in, 49 steals (caught 5 times), an All-Star appearance and a Silver Slugger award.

Harper’s 2012 season was not nearly as impressive as Trout’s was, but for a 19 year old, the numbers he put up were very respectable, hitting .270 with 22 home runs and 59 runs batted in over a span of 139 games, along with some strong defense, throwing out eight runners from the outfield and a high range factor. Along with Trout, Harper made the All-Star team, however in a much different fashion, as Harper replaced the injured Giancarlo Stanton to fill out the roster.

Based on just offensive numbers alone in 2012, Trout would appear to be the obvious choice. He had it all. Power, speed, along with the ability to get on base and drive in runs. Along with all that, Trout’s WAR more than doubled Harper’s for the year, with Trout having a WAR of 10.9 against Harper’s 5.2. However, let’s look at the overall game between these two young phenoms.

Minor League Statistics:

Harper:

Year Age Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 18 A-AA WSN 109 452 387 63 115 24 2 17 58 26 7 59 87 .297 .392 .501 .894 194
2012 19 AAA WSN 21 84 74 8 18 4 1 1 3 1 1 9 14 .243 .325 .365 .690 27
2 Seasons 130 536 461 71 133 28 3 18 61 27 8 68 101 .289 .382 .479 .861 221
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.

Trout:

Year Age Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2009 17 2 Lgs Rk-A LAA 44 207 179 30 63 7 7 1 25 13 2 22 34 .352 .419 .486 .905 87
2010 18 2 Lgs A-A+ LAA 131 600 508 106 173 28 9 10 58 56 15 73 85 .341 .428 .490 .918 249
2011 19 TL AA LAA 91 412 353 82 115 18 13 11 38 33 10 45 76 .326 .414 .544 .958 192
2012 20 PCL AAA LAA 20 93 77 21 31 4 5 1 13 6 1 11 16 .403 .467 .623 1.091 48
4 Seasons 286 1312 1117 239 382 57 34 23 134 108 28 151 211 .342 .425 .516 .941 576
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.

Major League Numbers thus far:

Harper:

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 19 WSN NL 139 597 533 98 144 26 9 22 59 18 6 56 120 .270 .340 .477 .817 254
2013 20 WSN NL 24 99 86 18 31 5 1 9 18 1 2 13 15 .360 .444 .756 1.200 65
2 Yrs 163 696 619 116 175 31 10 31 77 19 8 69 135 .283 .355 .515 .870 319
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.

Trout:

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 19 LAA AL 40 135 123 20 27 6 0 5 16 4 0 9 30 .220 .281 .390 .672 48
2012 20 LAA AL 139 639 559 129 182 27 8 30 83 49 5 67 139 .326 .399 .564 .963 315
2013 21 LAA AL 24 112 99 13 26 8 1 2 12 4 1 11 23 .263 .330 .424 .755 42
3 Yrs 203 886 781 162 235 41 9 37 111 57 6 87 192 .301 .372 .519 .891 405
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.

Defensive Numbers [MLB only]:

Harper:

Year Tm Lg Age Pos G Ch PO A E DP Fld% Rtot Rdrs Rtot/yr Rdrs/yr RF/9 RF/G lgFld% lgRF9 lgRFG
2012 WSN NL 19 OF 138 326 311 8 7 3 .979 9 14 9 14 2.42 2.31 .987 2.11 2.09
2013 WSN NL 20 OF 24 49 45 2 2 1 .959 0 1 1 5 1.97 1.96 .986 2.13 2.12
2 Seasons TOT 162 375 356 10 9 4 .976 10 15 8 12 2.35 2.26 .987 2.11 2.09
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.

Trout:

Year Tm Lg Age Pos G Ch PO A E DP Fld% Rtot Rdrs Rtot/yr Rdrs/yr RF/9 RF/G lgFld% lgRF9 lgRFG
2011 LAA AL 19 OF 35 82 80 0 2 0 .976 4 2 18 8 2.47 2.29 .986 2.28 2.26
2012 LAA AL 20 OF 139 347 340 3 4 1 .988 15 21 15 20 2.52 2.47 .986 2.17 2.16
2013 LAA AL 21 OF 24 51 49 0 2 0 .961 1 0 6 0 2.05 2.04 .987 2.23 2.21
3 Seasons TOT 198 480 469 3 8 1 .983 21 23 14 15 2.45 2.38 .986 2.20 2.18
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.

Defensively, Trout has an edge over Harper overall, although Harper shows a stronger arm than Trout through the statistics. Offensively, Harper shows that he may end up with the power edge, but overall offensive numbers will possibly be about even once they reach their primes, or at least mature as players over the next few years. Harper may end up stealing more bases as he learns how to better read pitchers, as he has some pretty good speed. 2013 has been good to Harper thus far, while Trout has started off slowly, but will most likely pick it back up.

Overall, the talent level of both of these players are off the charts. Regardless of which player one would choose, they would get back a top-tier MVP caliber player. Really can’t go wrong with either player.

So, with all that said, and all the numbers in front of you, which poison would you pick?

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Michael Theed
About the Author

Michael is a Marlins fan covering Marlins Baseball. Civil Engineering Student at University of Central Florida. Follow him on Twitter @MTheed4.







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