Fantasy lessons learned so far in 2012

Updated: August 17, 2012, 4:15 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

If asked to name the biggest story of the 2012 fantasy baseball season, most people would highlight the extraordinary performance of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Not only has he locked up AL Rookie of the Year honors, but regardless of whether his team makes it to the postseason, I think he should be the AL MVP. For fantasy owners he enters the third weekend of August leading ESPN's Player Rater by a staggering margin, on pace for numbers rarely accomplished by anyone in the game's wondrous history, rookie or veteran.

Of course, that hardly means it's time to alter philosophy on all rookies just because one of them has proved to be about as special as they come.

The happy, optimistic baseball fan in me loves what Trout is doing and wishes I had him on more fantasy teams. As a relatively conservative fantasy player always trying to win now, I tend to let others overrate the rookies, and we should remember Trout played most of April in the minor leagues and turned 21 last week. His season performance was unexpected. But when I look around at some of the other highly touted first-year players, I'm reminded why it's best to carry a cautious attitude when analyzing expectations for these fellows either in drafts or trades.