Harper vs. Trout

Courtesy of US Presswire

Courtesy of US Presswire

The MLB is just now coming out of the so-called steroid era and entering into what is being dubbed “the pitcher’s era.” With two perfect games and two separate no-hitters already this year, it seems to be an apt description. But even more, 2012 seems to be the season of the rookies. Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who are 19 and 20 years old respectively, have exploded onto the national baseball scene not only as the most promising prospects for the future, but also as some of the best players in the game.

First, a brief history of the two players: Trout was drafted 25th overall by the Angels in 2009, playing on various minor league teams for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He was called up to the majors in 2011 to replace an injured starter, then back down to the minors again, where he was named the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America. Trout was again called up in April 2012, this time to stay.

Harper’s ascent was a little more publicized — actually, a lot more. At 16 years old, as a sophomore in high school, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, being compared to Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Wayne Gretzky, and even Alexander the Great. Harper earned his GED that same year, left high school and joined a local junior college in his hometown of Las Vegas, making him eligible for the 2010 amateur draft. Harper, touted as one of the best prospects in MLB history, was drafted No. 1 by the Washington Nationals. Just as Trout did, Harper played for various minor league teams for his first two seasons, and in 2012 was called up to the Nationals, where he has been ever since.

Through 84 games this season, Trout has a batting average of .349, with 19 home runs, 57 RBIs and 33 stolen bases, making him a strong candidate for the AL MVP. Harper has a BA of .257, 10 HRs and 30 RBIs. The stats leader is clearly Trout, but he does have a year on Harper and the Harper-hype still lingers, so the assumption is that next season Harper will put up monster numbers.

This then prompts the question — indeed, the one that has been asked essentially since they broke into the league earlier this season, only a day apart from each other: which one would you take for your team? There are differences between the players, with Trout being more of a speed player while Harper is a power guy. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Trout has better numbers right now, but you can’t ignore the raw talent that Harper has either — it’s a toss-up.

Almost the exact same question was asked more than 60 years ago when Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were both rookies during the 1951 season. The argument over which player was better lasted their entire careers and even continues today, when both are considered some of the greatest players of all time. With Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, we could be witnessing the next Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. We could be witnessing some of the best players ever. As fans, over the next decade and a half or so, these are the players who will likely rule the league, players who will rule every fan’s argument for the years to come.

Which one would I take? That’s just a clown question, bro.