Mike Trout Makes First-Ever Visit to Fenway Park as Angels’ Phenom Takes in Unparalleled Rookie Success


Aug 21, 2012

Mike Trout Makes First-Ever Visit to Fenway Park as Angels' Phenom Takes in Unparalleled Rookie SuccessBOSTON — It's pretty impossible not to use hyperbole when talking about Mike Trout.

He has an accurate arm, but his throwing strength is pretty average. However that's the only average thing about the 21-year-old phenom and All-Star, who's still in his rookie campaign but is already being compared to the game's all-time greats.

Consider this, through the first 99 games of his freshman season — Trout wasn't even called up to the big leagues until April 28, a cup of coffee in 2011 notwithstanding — the outfielder has scored 96 runs. The only player with more runs scored through the first 100 games of his rookie campaign? Well, that would be Joe DiMaggio all the way back in 1936.

Through July, Trout was hitting .353 with 18 home runs and 31 stolen bases. The only other player ever — not just rookies, but throughout the history of MLB — to do .350/15/30 or better through July is Rickey Henderson in 1985. And again, Trout did this missing the first month of the season.

Currently leading the American League with a .343 batting average, while also clubbing 24 home runs and swiping 39 stolen bases in those 99 games — once again, doing this at the age of 20 and 21 — it's apparent that Trout's potential is basically limitless.

"Once you go out there and I get on the field, I don't really think about that stuff, just go out there and play the game," says Trout about looking at his numbers and comparisons to other players. "You know, when we have downtime I do think about some of that stuff, but once you get on the field the game takes over."

And, as the Angels enter Fenway on Monday for a three-game set, it's not only the first time the Red Sox have gotten a look at the speedy outfielder, but in fact, despite growing up in New Jersey, it's the first time Trout has ever visited Fenway Park.

"It's alright," deadpans Trout about Fenway. "A lot of history behind it, obviously. There are some new parks that are pretty nice, but just being here, playing here, it's pretty cool."

Cool. That's the kind of language you might expect from a 21-year-old, but in the clubhouse and on the field — not to mention his running back's build — everything else about Trout suggests a much more advanced age. Before the game, Trout played cards with teammates Jered Weaver, Chris Iannetta, C.J. Wilson, Torii Hunter and others  — the veterans. There's not often a chair for a rookie at the veterans' table in most major league clubhouses.

Regardless, Trout only turned 21 on Aug. 9, and didn't seem to find it much of a "clown question" as to what he did to celebrate.

"You know, it's the 21st birthday," says Trout. "I sat down with my parents for
a while then hung out with the guys after the game, and that was that."

But there's more to Trout than just the offensive statistics and the surprising age. It's also his defense and the way he plays the game. For instance, the gold standard for a time going from the batter's box to first base is Mickey Mantle, who was once clocked at 3.50 seconds. Well, Trout's been marked at 3.53 — but keep in mind that Mantle had the advantage of exiting the left side of the batter's box.

Beyond that, Trout's already taking cues from the other three players on the Angels roster that have played a lauded center field — Vernon Wells, Hunter and Peter Bourjos — crashing into walls and sacrificing his body with reckless abandon. In fact, Trout is responsible for the clear highlight of the year in Major League Baseball and one of the greatest catches you'll ever see on a diamond.

"I knew he hit it well, I didn't think it was going to go out, to tell you the truth," says Trout of his June 27 theft of a potential J.J. Hardy home run. "I got to the back of the wall and thought to myself that the only chance I was going to have to catch it was jumping, just to try and jump as high as I can. I knew it hit my glove. I came down, looked at Torii, then looked at my glove and there it was."

So, you never can quite tell how a player will turn out. The last Angels prospect to get anywhere near the kind of attention that Trout generated coming up through the minors was one Brandon Wood, who currently resides in Triple-A awaiting a chance with the Colorado Rockies. Then again, Trout's already established himself at the major league level and has one thing going for him that so many prospects don't upon arrival: the plate discipline of a seasoned veteran.

So, as the future looks essentially limitless for the Los Angeles rookie, all we can do is simply look on in awe as potentially one of the greatest players ever blossms right before our eyes. Enjoy your first look, Boston.

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