You all remember Casey Kotchman, right?
The 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft absolutely raked in the minor leagues and was a can’t-miss prospect. But when his power never developed in the big leagues (a career slugging percentage under .400), the Angels did well to trade him for rent-a-player Mark Teixeira in 2008.
Teixeira hit .358 with 13 homers down the stretch to help the Angels win the division by 21 games. After hitting .467 in the ALDS loss to the Red Sox, Teixeira bolted for the Yankees, who gave out $180 million.
New York also had to give up the 25th pick in the 2009 draft to the Angels for signing away a Type-A free agent. That pick ended up being Mike Trout.
Among players drafted in 2009, the only ones with a higher career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) than Trout’s 4.1 are the first two picks from the class: Stephen Strasburg (5.2) and Dustin Ackley (4.8).
It’s becoming pretty apparent that if you could do that draft over, Strasburg and Trout would go 1-2. Good luck choosing between those two. The only reason Ackley’s WAR is higher than Trout’s is that he’s had nearly twice as many at-bats in his career.
With an AL-leading 30 hits so far in June to go along with a major league-leading 11 steals in the month, Trout isn’t just looking like one of the best rookies in baseball -- he’s looking like one of the best players overall.
That’s a far cry from last year, when in 40 games in the big leagues, Trout hit .220. The problem was that he got pull-happy. All but four of his 27 hits last season were to the left side of second base.
An offseason to work on his struggles has resulted in the 20-year-old hitting like a seasoned All-Star. His 2012 hit chart shows just how well he uses the entire field.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when Trout went 4-for-4 Tuesday, 15 days after a 4-for-4 game against Seattle on June 4, he became the first player age 20 or younger to have 4-for-4 games in such close proximity since Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby did it July 29 and August 9, 1916.
WATER COOLER AMMO
• Remember when the Angels were shut out eight times in the first month and a half of the season? Well, they’ve turned the tables, throwing shutouts in three of their past five games. They lead the league with 10 shutouts.
• Erick Aybar has flirted with the Mendoza Line for most of this season, but in his past 10 games he is hitting .417 (15-36). He’s hit safely in seven straight.