Yesterday, I wrote about the joys and immense benefits that the internet, and more specifically YouTube, has brought to not just baseball fans, but to sports fans of all types. Now granted that pretty much any ballplayer is more than capable of making a highlight reel play at any given time, if and when they’re put into the right situation. But we don’t care about the average Joe here. Here we care about the human highlight reel, the “dont change the channel or leave the room” player; the YouTube player.
In Part I we took a long and much deserved look at a pair of Tigers who bring the hurt everywhere they go. I speak of the most feared 3-4 duo in baseball today; Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Today we’re going to pick up right where we left off by focusing on three of the most dynamic, exciting, and young players in the game today: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, and Bryce Harper.
Mike Trout: Is there anything Mike Trout can’t do? The kid hits for average, he hits for power, he plays a gold glove level of CF, he has 50 steal potential; oh and he’ll only be 22 by the end of the season. Trout is one of those players who makes a routine single to the OF exciting, just on the off chance that the OF ho-hums the throw back to the IF. See if that was to happen there would be a pretty strong chance that Mr. Trout would be standing on 2B by the time the ball hits the IF glove. Trout can flat out fly! Look at the way he turns a routine grounder to the 2B into an infield single:
He’s one of those guys who are immediately thinking triple as soon as the ball is headed to the gap.
Trout has the offensive toolkit to be a 30/30, 40/40, and cycle threat for years to come. He did recently become the youngest player in AL history to hit for the cycle, and may add a few more before all is said and done.
When he isn’t producing runs with his bat or legs, he is sure preventing them with said legs and glove. Trout blew up the baseball world last summer when he made a highlight reel, over-the-fence catch, in order to prevent a JJ Hardy HR. The catch was immediately heralded as the catch of the year, and drew comparisons to one of Trout’s teammates defensive resume; Mr. Torii Hunter. Just in case you missed the catch itself, or the 2012 MLB season for that… here it is:
The funny thing is a little more than a month later, Trout did the same thing to Gordon Beckham
Trust me; it’s not just the long ball he can take away. He also makes the liner to the gap disappear.
And he has NO problem with the over the shoulder approach, or dealing with obstacles in his way; like the hill in the middle of CF at Minute Maid Park.
Just remember the name Mike Trout. It’ll be hard to forget, especially when you hear it nightly on the Highlight of the Night segment, or the Plays of the Week for the foreseeable future.
Giancarlo Stanton: The man formerly known as Mike Stanton as been murdering baseballs since his days at Single-A Greensboro. In his first minor league season (2008) at A ball, Stanton hit 39 HR’S to go along with 97 RBI and a .293 batting average. His follow-up season saw him start at High-A ball where he went .294/12/39; he quickly was promoted to AA Jacksonville. Stanton would play only 52 games for Jacksonville, but my god they were 52 damn impressive games. During his stay in Jacksonville, Mike/Gio would bat .311, hit 21 home runs, and add 52 RBI. For those of you scoring at home, that equals 1 RBI per game played. Just stupid talent! Stanton not only left his mark in the stat column, but he also left it on oppositions. After a series against the Mississippi Braves, the Braves manager had this to say about Stanton:
“He looks like a 15-year-old playing on an 8-year-old’s Little League team.”
A few days later, Gio hit a 500+ foot home run that cleared the CF scoreboard in Montgomery. The Marlins would eventually call Stanton up to the big league club, and in his MLB debut Mike Stanton would go 3 for 5. His first career home run would come a few days later during interleague play off of Matt Garza. His first professional round tripper would be Grand Slam none the less.
The pain and hurt for opposing rotations and bullpens has not stopped there. His home run totals have increased every year since he hit 22 in his rookie season (2010). He would add 34 more in 2011 and another 37 in 2012. Keep in mind that these homers are not of the “wall scraper” variety by any means; they’re pure rain makers… moon shots.
I know what you’re thinking…”anybody can hit a bomb out of those sin bins in Cincinnati and Philadelphia.” And that is a very good point. Here is my rebuttal:
That my friends is the definition of a “tape measure” shot! Mind you it is batting practice, but the guy just launched the ball to the base of the Coca-Cola bottle at AT&T Park!! That’s absurd!! Sure it helps to launch a ball out of the stratosphere when you’re built like an NFL tight end or a fridge for that. But the impressive thing is that although Gio is built like the Incredible Hulk, he still has above average speed.
Remember that TE comment above, well in high school Gio was a three sport athlete, and was even offered scholarships to UCLA and UNLV for football. Football’s miss turned out to be a huge win for the MLB and the Marlin’s! Although it would sure be fun to see Gio doing his best Tony Gonzalez impression; Gio does walk around at 6’6 240lbs. However, unfortunately for Gio he is currently stuck spinning his heels in baseball purgatory (the Marlins). But don’t you fret or shed any tears for Gio. Why you ask? Well because it is only a matter of time that he is packaged off in a future Marlins/Loria fire sale… ETA Winter 2013/14.
Bryce Harper: There probably hasn’t been more hype around a player than there was around Bryce Harper. Harper first gained national fame when he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 17 year old in 2009. He infamously dropped out of high school in order to obtain his GED just so he could enter the MLB Amateur draft a year early. His bat speed and power were unheard of for a high school kid. At a Power Showcase at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field in 2009 Harper launched a 502ft blast that hit the catwalk at the back of the Tropicana. I apologize for the BS in the video, but just fast forward to the 3:35 mark… it is definitely worth it.
Needlessly to say Harper was the 1st overall pick in 2010 by the Washington Nationals; a team who had just landed uber pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg the year before. In high school, Harper was predominantly a full time catcher, but the Nationals didn’t believe that his catching game would transition to the major league level. So it was decided that Harper would make the transition to the OF. He did definitely have the arm for the OF from his years spent behind the plate.
In his big league debut in 2012 while playing LF, Harper gave us an early look at that rifle he calls a RF. Too bad the catcher can’t squeeze the ball…
Although he has made a somewhat seamless transition from catcher to outfielder, there is still always room to improve; although he already does do a really good Aaron Rowand impression…
It’s not just on the field that Harper is making can’t miss TV. Following a home run in the minor leagues, Harper decided to “thank” the pitcher for the muffin he had just been served.
I assume Harper has seen Field of Dreams, so he should be more aware of what can happen when you “show up” a pitcher or wink at them… let alone blow a kiss at them. Kids, someone needs to teach them a lesson. Enter Cole Hamels. Hamels didn’t take kindly to the rookie Harper stealing home against his Phillies. So the next night he went out and got him some old school retribution… Bob Gibson style.
Hamels even openly admitted to hitting Harper on purpose. An admission that earned him a suspension from the Commissioner’s office. Harper has been making a name for himself by playing hard and consistently pushing the envelope on his own physical abilities. Anybody who questions how hard he plays or the way he plays the game (Rafael Soriano) need to just ask Bryce what he thinks about those queries…
He even filed an application to have that phrase trademarked… genius business move? Or just plain old douche bag? Either way… he is sure damn exciting to watch play ball.
Stay tuned for Part III where we take a look at what current pitchers in the game today are worthy of racking up the YouTube views.