Projecting '12 phenoms for '13
A look at how this year's promising call-ups will fare in their first full seasons
A little more than a year ago, an outfielder named Mike Trout made his debut for the Los Angeles Angels, just a month before his 20th birthday. Stardom wasn't instantaneous, as Trout posted a .220/.281/.390 line in 2011, but the Millville Meteor has gone on to wreak a terrible vengeance on the AL pitchers that got him out the first time around, hitting .329/.396/.562, with 27 homers and 45 steals in 49 attempts his season.
Despite starting in the minors this year, Trout clinched the AL Rookie of the Year award back in June or so and is on target to be the first rookie to lead the league in baseball-reference's WAR (wins above replacement) since Russ Ford in 1910. If he doesn't win the AL MVP, there should probably be a congressional investigation.
But we all know that Mike Trout's great. The question going into 2013 is, who's next? Which recent call-ups, getting their first, brief taste in the majors, are most likely to terrorize the majors on their second bite? For this look, I'm focusing on the most prominent names that debuted since the All-Star break.
I've ranked the players by their preliminary projected 2013 ZiPS projected WAR, assuming they got a full serving of the majors next season. Based on team needs, many assuredly won't, but some have a clear path to the majors and some will play so well that they'll force their parent club's hand. It may take another 100 years before another player has a first full season as good as Trout's, but at least one of the players below is likely to break out and make an instant run at an All-Star appearance next summer. Note that the rankings are for 2013 only -- being low on the list can simply be due to a player being farther behind in the developmental cycle.
Jurickson Profar, SS
2013 ZiPS Projection: .262/.330/.410, 13 HR, 14 SB, 3.1 WAR
You're not really surprised to see Profar at the top of the list, I'm sure. Profar, like Trout before him, is an amazingly complete player for a teenager, without any glaring weaknesses in his game. He won't get 10 WAR, but that mean projection isn't that far from an All-Star season and Profar has another big step forward in him at some point in the next few years. ZiPS is confident that he'll be a yearly 5-win guy in his prime, and I'm not going to argue with the computer here.
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