My Top 50 On Cardboard
2010 Bowman Platinum
While players like Bryce Harper have garnered a lot of hype around the hobby, Mike Trout has been the true best young star around the baseball and the baseball card hobby. Mike Trout's first batch of cards first showed up in 2010 and were actually pretty affordable before the 2012 season. Once Trout was called up in late April of 2012 the climb in the value of Trout cards was dramatic and steep. Trout has offered baseball fans a glimpse of brilliance during his first two full seasons on the field, while offering collectors the opportunity to chase down some great cards of a young proven talent.
Trout cards did not get the hype that players like Harper and Strasburg received during the past few years, but his rise to the top of the hobby ranks has been quick and steady. Before the 2012 season, there were several Trout autographs out on the secondary market and the cards were all more than affordable. By the All-Star break in 2012 Trout cards had gone from affordable to high end. Since their meteoric rise during the first half of the 2012 season the cards haven't really budged that much. Rookie cards of the Angel's outfielder are popular and can range greatly in price from hundreds of dollars to a few dollars depending on the card and the print run.
I am always a little bit skiddish about spending a lot of money on cards of young players, but Trout was an exception for me. I watched Trout several times during the first half of the 2012 and was impressed with how he impacted the game. I even got a chance to watch him in-person during a summer vacation up to my in-laws house in Michigan. Cool to see Trout and Cabrera on the same field.
I was interested in finding and adding just one Trout autograph. I am honestly not a very big of the Angels, but I do appreciate the extraordinary talent that Trout possesses. I was able to land one Trout autograph and it remains me lone copy of his signature in my collection.
2011 Topps Finest Orange Mike Trout Autograph
This card cost me a Willie Mays autograph which hurt me a little bit at the time, but I am pretty happy with the decision now. Trout autographs will easily run collectors prices north of $100 and can expect to tack on extra depending on print runs, grading, and product quality. There are some off brand Trout autos out there if you are looking for a bargain, or Trout autographs with weird combinations. Last month someone tried to trade me a dual signature Trout/Jeremy Hellickson autograph. Why was such a card ever made? I am not sure, but it exists and was actually a bit of a bargain. If you are into that sort of card.
Not being a huge Trout collector I am not sure if I have done him justice in this write up. In review, Trout has only played during two and a half of the thirty years I have been collecting cards. I already rank him in the top ten of important players in the hobby over the past three decades based on his short time in the league. Trout is truly a unique talent (more below) and I could easily see him being first on this list if I revisited it in another twenty years. Of all the young players and prospects that collectors have jumped on during the modern era of baseball cards, Trout is one of the few to distinguish themselves by actually living up to and exceeding expectations.
On The Field-Trout is truly a unique talent on the field and I love watching him play despite the fact that he plays for one of the most inept organizations in all of professional sports. Baseball fans throw out the term "five-tool" player rather easily at times, but Trout fits that description to a T. There is not an aspect of the game where Trout is not capable of impacting a game. Trout hits for power, runs the bases well, has great plate discipline, and his defensive his superb.
A quick check of Baseball Reference's similar batters is a little misleading. His top comparable is Hack Miller who only played six years in the teens and twenties. His career was interrupted by World War I. Hard to get a handle on exactly what kind of player he was when he played so long ago and had is career split in pieces by four years of military service. His second comparable is Allen Craig. As a Cardinals fan I can tell you that's not quite right stylistically.
If I had to venture out and make my own comparable player, who reminded me of Trout both in numbers and style of play, I would point you in the direction of a young Eric Davis. Specifically the first two seasons of both players careers. Davis put up a .277/.378/.523 line in his first full season with the Reds to go along with 27 home runs, 71 RBIs, and 80 stolen bases. Trout's first year line was better, but you will see some of the similarities: .326/.399/.564 with 30 homers, 83 RBIs, and 49 stolen bases. The numbers are somewhat close, but I really cannot think of another player who closer to Trout than Davis.
I also could not find a video for reference, but the young version of Eric Davis was a spectacular defensive player just like Trout. He cost Jack Clark a few home runs back in the day. Trout of course is one of the best defensive players in the game.
Adding in age as a factor to Trout's comparable players on Baseball Reference yields a list spectacular list of Hall of Famers. Players on the list include: Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Orlando Cepeda, Al Kaline, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, and Ken Griffey Jr. I am pretty sure that the Angels would be more than happy if Trout turned into any one of the players listed above. Cannot really go wrong with that list.
There's also the whole MVP award debate surrounding Trout. He's lead the American League in WAR the past two seasons ahead of eventual MVP winner Miguel Cabrera. During the 2012 season Cabrera won the triple crown. Last year, the Angels were a terrible team and the Tigers were one of the better teams in the league. So, does Trout deserve to have two MVP awards in addition to his 2012 Rookie of the Year award? I am beyond tired of this debate and the people who debate this issue being ridiculous. I could post several screen shots of ridiculous people on both sides, but I will be classy.
Instead of further debating the Trout for MVP debate I will bring you a video cornucopia of Mike Trout and his five tools. Four shown.
Hitting For Average
I like this 2013 Topps Out of Bounds variation they put out of Trout leaping to take away a home run. This card is much better than his regular 2013 Topps and is a much better picture for showing the type of player Trout is on the field. Definitely more expensive than a regular Topps base card, but still a really affordable card.
2013 Topps Out of Bounds SP Mike Trout