Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Fantasy owners who excitedly jumped on board the Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout "train" with the first overall selection at their 2013 fantasy draft have to be frustrated with their selection. Particularly when compared to the other logical option - Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
The 2012 American League Rookie of the Year's numbers are certainly down a bit from a season ago, but is that his fault or the fault of changes to the Los Angeles Angels' offense?
Through May 13, here are Trout's current batting statistics: .283 with 24 runs scored, six home runs, 25 RBI, six stolen bases and a .851 OPS in 38 games. After 38 games last season, he was batting .349 with 31 runs scored, five homers, 24 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .950 OPS.
But circumstances are very different in 2013.
Before the season even began, manager Mike Scioscia made changes to the top of the batting order, installing speedster Peter Bourjos in the leadoff spot and sliding Trout into the No. 2 position. It was a curious move considering Trout stole a league-leading 49 bases last season.
There are obviously different goals for a No. 2 hitter versus a leadoff guy, among them taking pitchers to allow the leadoff hitter to steal bases and moving the runner by hitting the ball to right field.
In addition, with newly acquired slugger Josh Hamilton and powerful Albert Pujols batting directly behind Trout, he isn't as likely to run as when he was in the leadoff spot. So his stolen base total is suffering.
And with Hamilton batting only slightly above the "Mendoza Line" at .212 with a very un-Hamilton-like .605 OPS, and Pujols just barely better (.234/.709), is there any wonder Trout's runs scored total is down almost 25 percent?
The bottom line for fantasy owners, however, is that Trout is not putting up the statistics from a year ago.
That was to be expected, unfortunately, after his historic 2012 season.
Of particular importance from that analysis was how teams had adjusted to Trout by the end of last season.
Pitchers had no idea how to pitch to Trout at the beginning of the 2012 season and through July he was batting an extraordinary .353 with a 1.019 OPS. From Aug. 1 through Oct. 3, however, he batted just .287 with a .883 OPS.
Which looks, not surprisingly, like his numbers through the first 38 games of this season.
Is he floundering? No.
We simply have found Trout's production level and it's not that of a first overall pick. He's still a very talented fantasy asset, just not the best in baseball.
If you want the best hitter in baseball, you want Cabrera.
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