It's no secret that Mike Trout is awesome. Similarly, if you have come upon this website it is likely that you've heard a thing or two about Giancarlo Stanton being an outstanding baseball player. What may not have occurred to you is how similar the two have been in 2014. This is likely because we think of Trout and Stanton as fitting fundamentally different player archetypes.
Trout is the guy you grew up with who you wanted to hate because he was good at everything. He hits the ball with authority, fields his position well and is an excellent base runner. If there was justice in the world he would have two MVP's under his belt, but he's likely to finally snag the honor this year, in what is possibly his worst full season to date. He has drawn endless comparisons to Mickey Mantle, and they aren't even wildly unfounded.
On the other hand, Stanton is quite simply a monster. The hulking slugger appears to be some kind of cyborg sent back in time for the sole purpose of destroying baseballs. If there aren't a bunch of photoshopped pictures of Stanton out there as The Terminator there should be. Get on it, internet.
Our perceptions of the two players make it difficult to comprehend the idea that they could be in any way similar, but this year the parallels between them are undeniable. Firstly, if you look at the basic counting stats there is very little separating the pair.
The Marlins slugger has more home runs and Trout has more runs but everything else here matches up. Things get interesting looking at the duo's more advanced offensive numbers.
The only significant different between the two is Stanton's higher walk rate, but overall these numbers are more or less identical. Nothing here is park-adjusted, but both players play in places where pitchers tend to dominate. As a result their wRC+'s are similar with Trout at 163 and Stanton at 158.
It should be noted that on the bases and in the field Trout is still clearly the better player. That being said, the statistical gap there isn't as wide as one might think. Over the last couple of years the Angels superstar has bulked up noticeably and his speed seems to have declined somewhat.
Whether that is the cause or a coincidence is difficult to say. But what we do know is that Trout's DRS and BsR numbers have been dropping over the last three seasons.
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It would have been very unfair to expect Trout to continue the dominance in the field and on the bases the way he did in 2012 going forward, but the drop off has been steep. All of these single-season numbers represent relatively small samples and ought to be taken with a grain of salt, but it appears fair to say we've seen the best of Trout in this part of his game.
As he matures Trout is likely to be more and more Stanton-esque. After all, power can come with time and he is only 23. The strength he's shown in hitting balls to dead center may be a clue of where his game is headed. It's hard to imagine "Mike Trout:All-Around Baseball Jedi" recast as "Mike Trout: Pure Slugger" but that could be on the horizon.
Trout's game has been constantly evolving since he made it to the major leagues. Even though he has been otherworldly at the highest level, he is still at and age where he is developing.
If his development happens to take him towards being much like the biggest power threat in the entire game, that's not exactly the end of the world.
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
Nick Ashbourne is an Editor for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Ashbourne.