Stealing the Spotlight: Mike Trout

June 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

by Kevin Harrington

As any marginally interested baseball fan knows, the 2012 MLB season has been a coming out party for nineteen year-old phenom, Bryce Harper. The future All-Star has been on quite a tear during his well-publicized rookie campaign, hitting a respectable .280 along with 34 runs and 20 RBI’s. However, the stat line should back up my previous statement…“future all-star.” I am very aware of the massive potential that this kid brings to a very young and dangerous Washington Nationals team, but at this point and time it would be (as Harper might put it) a “clown question, bro” to ask which rookie is making the biggest splash this season.

s any marginally interested baseball fan knows, the 2012 MLB season has been a coming out party for nineteen year-old phenom, Bryce Harper. The future All-Star has been on quite a tear during his well-publicized rookie campaign, hitting a respectable .280 along with 34 runs and 20 RBI’s. However, the stat line should back up my previous statement…“future all-star.” I am very aware of the massive potential that this kid brings to a very young and dangerous Washington Nationals team, but at this point and time it would be (as Harper might put it) a “clown question, bro” to ask which rookie is making the biggest splash this season.

As any marginally interested baseball fan knows, the 2012 MLB season has been a coming out party for nineteen year-old phenom, Bryce Harper. The future All-Star has been on quite a tear during his well-publicized rookie campaign, hitting a respectable .280 along with 34 runs and 20 RBI’s. However, the stat line should back up my previous statement…“future all-star.” I am very aware of the massive potential that this kid brings to a very young and dangerous Washington Nationals team, but at this point and time it would be (as Harper might put it) a “clown question, bro” to ask which rookie is making the biggest splash this season.

When I saw Mike Trout make his first appearance in the Bigs almost a year ago, I wasn’t impressed. After paying very close attention to his dominance in the minor leagues as just a teenager, I jumped on the opportunity to add the youngest MLB player to my fantasy team only to watch him struggle mightily and get sent back to the minors. He must’ve learned from his mistakes because although he retains his rookie eligibility this season, he is playing like a wily veteran.

Since his call-up just weeks after the season began, he has simply been on fire. During the 2012 season, Trout has amassed a .345 batting average, 47 runs scored, 30 RBI’s, 7 home runs, and 19 stolen bases. He is currently sporting another impressive hitting streak, this one being a nine-game streak that began on June 17th and left off with a 4-6 performance (3 runs scored, 1 RBI) Wednesday against the Orioles. However, when I went to cast my vote for the All-Star game yesterday, he wasn’t even listed on the AL ballot. You better believe that I filled out a write-in vote for the kid. He’s earned it. Now that Trout has enough at-bats to qualify, he not only leads the AL in batting average, but also leads the league in stolen bases with 19.

Prized free agent acquisition Albert Pujols and the Angels underperformed mightily until Trout’s call-up, going an underwhelming 6-14 in the rookie’s absence. However, the team has gone 36-19 (an MLB-best record over that span) since calling up the team’s current batting average, runs scored, and stolen base leader. Unlike recent rookie stars Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, and Starlin Castro, Trout is not only attempting to win the rookie of the year award, but is also a very real threat in his league’s MVP race. If this happens, he would join Ichiro and Fred Lynn as the only players in MLB history to win both awards in the same season. 

What Trout has accomplished in his blossoming young career is no small feat for a sports star not even old enough to celebrate wins with a beer yet. Trout has exhibited the skills to strongly support the notion that he can be a superstar five-tool player for years to come. If he is capable of continuing this torrid pace, expect big things from the speedster from Los Angeles…and don’t expect him to stay in the shadow of his D.C. counterpart much longer.

The Comeback Kid: Brandon Roy

June 27, 2012 § 3 Comments

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By Kevin Harrington

As the calendar rapidly approaches June 28th, all 30 NBA teams frantically search for the latest updates on prospects in order to make crucial last-minute adjustments to their draft boards. Over the past few weeks, there have been some major changes such as Jared Sullinger’s plummeting draft stock, as well as some constants such as the man who recently trademarked “Fear the Brow” before his inevitable selection by the New Orleans Hornets on Thursday night. However, most of the teams participating in the draft are well aware of the fact that they will not be capable of adding an athlete that has the ability to take them from cellar dweller to contender.

This is why the first Sports Star blog post will ironically not be covering a nineteen year-old prospect that will be the new face of a franchise by Thursday night, but instead feature the comeback of a former Rookie of the Year and 3-time NBA All-Star who was the face of his franchise until injuries derailed his career, leading to his retirement from basketball a year ago. Do you remember Brandon Roy? If not, prepare to witness a revival of sorts. Some athletes rise from high school or college to become the next great sports star. A select few are put in the rare position to recover from career-defining obstacles and achieve that goal twice.

Despite a nagging ankle injury during his rookie year (which would prove to be an ominous foreshadowing for the rest of his Blazers career), Brandon Roy scored 16.8 points per game and made his case to be Portland’s go-to scorer for the next decade. During an impressive three-year stretch from 2007-2010, Roy averaged over 20 points per game and 72 games played per year. However, the continual degeneration of his knees led to his retirement from the NBA before the 2011-2012 season began. Following his release from the Trail Blazers, he recently spurred his recovery from chronic knee problems by undergoing the same procedure that superstar athletes Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez popularized during their own well-documented struggles with knee injuries. Now the 27 year-old former superstar has officially announced his comeback, hoping to surpass the level of greatness he once flirted with so closely.

Brandon Roy isn’t going to have too much trouble finding a team that desires his services according to reports that claim the Warriors, Bulls, Mavericks, Pacers, and Timberwolves would all explore the opportunity to use their mid-level exception on the star shooting guard. And after a year which saw Kobe Bryant undergo the same procedure, only to appear an ageless wonder, why wouldn’t they? For comparison, Monta Ellis of the Bucks produces about the same now that Roy did from 2007-2010. The difference is that a full mid-level exception should cost approximately $6 million this year, while Ellis will make over $10 million per season for the next six years. To put it simply, the risk/reward factor with Brandon Roy should be extremely attractive to teams in need of a scorer.

ImageMy speculation is that the Warriors, Pacers, and Timberwolves could capitalize on Roy’s talents best, due to their lack of a true scorer or shooting guards. The Timberwolves would rank dead last if you evaluated each team’s shooting guard situation from last year. The team juggled starters from an abysmal Wesley Johnson to the mediocre Wayne Ellington, before settling on a unique dual point guard lineup with Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour.  The team lacked a true scorer for their young building block point guard to dish the ball to. Former Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard did swing the draft day trade to land Roy in Rip City though, so he may have a serious interest in giving him a second shot with Indiana. However, I believe the team with the greatest advantage and the best fit would be the Golden State Warriors. Roy’s former agent, Bob Myers, is now the general manager of the team. The team faced a problem last season with two combo guards who need to have the ball in their hands to make plays.

Now that Stephen Curry is finally the main man in town after Ellis was traded for Andrew Bogut, the Warriors could sign Roy for cheap and attempt to replace some of the guard production lost when Ellis left town. If Myers’ sales pitch wins Roy over again, it could entice him to bring his talents to “West Beach” while finally getting back on track to continue his pursuit of the elusive Larry O’Brien Trophy.

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