The great debate: Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper


There once was a time when Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were competing not only for their teams, but for the title of being the best young superstar in baseball.

Harper, maybe the most criticized young player in the game, began his rise to fame before he landed himself in the big leagues. Harper secured a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16 when he was still playing high school baseball in Las Vegas. The cover, which headlined Harper as “The Chosen One,” set lofty expectations for the 16-year-old phenom. Trout, who is just a year older than Harper, took a little bit of a different route to his fame. He wasn’t on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was in high school, but he established himself in the minors very quickly at Triple-A Salt Lake. Both Harper and Trout made their major league debuts on April 28, 2012, instantly setting the stage for one the greatest debates in all of sports.

Mike Trout: How does one begin to explain how good Mike Trout actually is? In a sense, there is almost no way to be able to explain everything he does for the Los Angeles Angels in a paragraph. Since his debut two years ago, Trout has been nothing short of spectacular. In his first full season as an Angel, Trout had a batting average of .326 with 30 home runs and 83 runs batted in, giving him the American League Rookie of the Year Award. It wasn’t just Trout’s offense that brought fans to the edge of their seats, it was the way he patrolled the outfield. He became known for spectacular, wall-scaling catches like the one that he had against the Baltimore Orioles that was nominated for catch of the year.

Typically after an incredible first year as a rookie, a second-year player will go through something of a hangover and won’t produce as well as the previous year or as well as everyone expects them to. Mike Trout seemed to write his own rules in this sense and was able to have just as good of a season as the previous year. In 2020, his second full season, Mike Trout was able to have a batting average of .323 with 27 home runs and 97 runs batted in. Even though two out of the three major statistics were down from the previous year, they weren’t down by much at all. The numbers in both of those years were more than spectacular. Even though his first two years were ones that will go down in the record books, it’s what Trout is doing this season that makes him not only the best young player in the game, but one of the elite players to play the game of baseball.

Every night, Trout brings fans to the edges of their seats with monster home runs, amazing catches, and blazing speed, making him the true definition of a five-tool player.

Bryce Harper: There is no doubt that Bryce Harper is one of the top baseball players in the world. His raw talent is uncanny and his offensive and defensive abilities rival the best in the league. Bryce Harper made his major league debut the same day that Mike Trout did, and just like Trout, he made a very strong first impression. In his first full season with the Washington Nationals, Harper had a respectable batting average of .270 with 22 home runs and 59 runs batted in. For a player in his first year, Harper took the bright lights in stride and made the most of his opportunity.

The following season, his numbers were similar to the previous year, but Harper’s durability came into question as he only played in 118 games. He struggled with knee injuries from crashing into outfield walls and ended up missing significant time. Bryce Harper unfortunately fed those critics with a severe injury to his thumb that required surgery

The answer to the debate of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, at this point, is almost undeniable. The numbers don’t lie, as Mike Trout has significantly outplayed Bryce Harper in every phase of the game through their first three years in professional baseball. Bryce Harper, who is undoubtedly one of the top young players in baseball, is simply not at Mike Trout’s level in this stage of his career. That’s not to say that they won’t be one day, but at this point in time, Mike Trout has taken this debate and hit it over the center field fence.

Campus Chronicle
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