Searle: Could Mike Trout’s amazing rookie season have happened in MLB today?

From Ginny Searle at Baseball Prospectus on March 7, 2019:

If your baseball fandom is anything like mine, the 2012 season will always be associated with Mike Trout. In brief: Trout, age 20 and an elite prospect, was called up on April 28 and quickly established himself as the game’s premiere player, hitting 30 home runs, swiping 49 bases, and playing flashy defense en route to unanimous Rookie of the Year honors and a runner-up MVP finish that outraged some in the sabermetric community.

Though the advent and implementation of DRC+ and FRAA have since diminished Trout’s rookie season from 9.1 WARP to “only” 7.2 WARP in 139 games (and perhaps vindicated MVP voters), I’m focusing on the season’s golden memory preserved in the double-digit WARs that Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs still credit to Trout. Erstwhile Baseball Prospectus editor-in-chief Sam Miller, in naming Trout’s performance that season one of “Baseball’s Seven Wonders,” posited presciently that “even if he finishes out his career as a 130-WARP player, nothing he does will quite be the wonder that his age-20 season was.”

Years later, as Trout annually seems to find new reserves of talent with which to amaze us, that proclamation still rings true. With the privilege of insight into MLB’s modern organizational service-time practices, however, I feel justified in making another proclamation: In today’s prospect and service-time environment, Trout’s superlative, indelible 2012 season likely would not have happened.

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Originally published: March 7, 2019. Last Updated: March 7, 2019.