Is Mike Trout the greatest rookie ever?

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
5:23
PM PT
Mike Trout is looking to become only the second American League rookie to lead all of baseball in steals (Ichiro Suzuki was the first in 2001). Trout has a chance to become the first rookie ever with a 30 HR-40 SB campaign (Just two home runs away).

Some more stats from his breakout season:
  • Before Wednesday’s game, he had the highest wins above replacement (WAR) for an AL position player since Cal Ripken’s 1991 season. Trout has the highest WAR for an AL outfielder since Carl Yastrzemski’s 1967 season. In the live-ball era, only Dwight Gooden had a higher WAR in his age 20 season.
  • Trout is the first rookie with 25 homers and 40 stolen bases in a season. He’s within reach of joining Barry Bonds (1990) as the only player with 30 HRs, 50 SB and a .300 BA in a season.
  • Trout leads the American League in stolen bases (47), runs scored (124), and WAR (10.5). He entered Wednesday third in batting average (.324), third in OBP (.395), 5th in slugging percentage (.554) and third in OPS (.949).
  • Only two MLB players have won the MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same year: Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro (2001).

When you look at Trout’s success compared with rookies in other sports, it raises the question:

Is Mike Trout having the greatest rookie season ever, in any major pro sport? Here are some comparisons, inside and outside of baseball. Check them out, and then discuss in the comments.

Notable MLB Rookie Seasons

Joe DiMaggio (1936 New York Yankees)

DiMaggio hit .323 in 1936 with 29 HRs, 125 RBIs and 15 triples (T-AL high). En route to making his first of 13 All-Star appearances, he also ranked among the Top 10 in the AL in total bases (637) and hits (206), and runs scored (132).

Ted Williams (1939 Boston Red Sox)

Williams led the AL in RBIs during his rookie season in 1939 (145) and wouldn’t top that total again until 1949. Williams also led the AL in total bases that season (344), ranked third in HRs (31) and seventh in batting average (.327).

Fred Lynn (1975 Boston Red Sox)

Lynn hit .331 in ’75 with 21 HRs and 105 RBIs. He also led the AL in slugging percentage (.566). OPS (.967), runs scored (103) and doubles (47) and claimed both the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP awards. Lynn’s WAR for the 1975 season was 7.1.

Dwight Gooden (1984 New York Mets)

Gooden went 17-9 in ’84 with a 2.60 ERA, seven complete games and an MLB-rookie record 276 strikeouts. He won the NL Rookie of the Year award and had a WAR of 5.2 for the season.

Ichiro Suzuki (2001 Seattle Mariners)

In his MLB debut season of 2001 (after nine seasons in the Japanese Leagues), Ichiro led the AL in hits (242), batting average (.350) and stolen bases (56) while recording a WAR of 7.5 that season and winning the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP awards.

Notable Rookie Seasons Across Other Pro Sports

Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60 Philadelphia Warriors)

Chamberlain led the NBA in scoring (37.6 PPG) and rebounding (27.0 PPG) in '59-60 and won both the NBA MVP and Rookie of the Year awards.

Magic Johnson (1979-80 Lakers)

Magic averaged 18.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 7.3 APG as a rookie in 1979-80. He was also named MVP of the NBA Finals and helped the Lakers to their first NBA title since 1972.

Eric Dickerson (1983 Los Angeles Rams)

Dickerson set rookie records for rushing yards in a season (1,808), total yards from scrimmage in a season (2,212) and rushing TDs in a season (18) during the '83 season. He also had two receiving TDs to finish with 20 total TDs for the year.

Michael Jordan (1984-85 Chicago Bulls)

Jordan averaged 28.2 points per game as a rookie in the 1984-85 season, third in the NBA and still the most by a rookie since 1970. He was also fourth in the NBA in steals that season (196), and made his first of 14 All Star appearances en route to being named the NBA Rookie of the Year.

Randy Moss (1998 Minnesota Vikings)

Most set a rookie record for TD catches in '98 with 17, which was also good for the league lead among all receivers that season. He also averaged 19.0 yards per catch during the 1998 campaign.

Cam Newton (2011 Carolina Panthers)

It didn't take long for Cam Newton to make waves in the NFL as he became the first player in league history to throw for at least 400 yards in his debut. He didn’t ease up from there, throwing for an NFL-rookie record 4,051 passing yards, rushing for more touchdowns than any quarterback in a season since the merger (14), and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
C.J. Wilson
WINS ERA SO IP
2 4.21 28 25
OTHER LEADERS
BAH. Kendrick .306
HRA. Pujols 8
RBIA. Pujols 19
RM. Trout 16
OPSA. Pujols .956
ERAG. Richards 2.52
SOC. Wilson 28