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Are Mike Trout and Bryce Harper the best rookie duo ever?

By C. Trent Rosecrans | Blogger
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper won Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues. (US Presswire)

Is Trout the greatest rookie ever?

It's not exactly uncommon to be excited about the future when the Rookie of the Year winners are announced -- it's part of their charm. Although the voting is done on what a rookie did that season and not what he's expected to become, there's always some optimism toward the Rookie of the Year, whether it's Bob Hamelin or Albert Pujols.

This year, though, there may be even more, because we saw one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time and the debut of perhaps the most hyped prospect of all time. Both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper delivered, and they did so in historic fashion.

Although WAR certainly has its detractors, and there's a difference between WAR for hitters and pitchers, it's not exactly apples and oranges, more like grapefruit and oranges -- they're both citrus fruits. Still, it's a fun exercise. Trout's 10.7 WAR (the Baseball-Reference.com version) was one of the best seasons in baseball history, so it's no surprise he and Harper combined for the best total WAR for a pair of Rookie of the Year winners in baseball history. Harper's 5.0 WAR was the best among National League rookies, bettering second-place finisher Wade Miley (3.2) and third-place Todd Frazier (1.9).

Here are the top 10 Rookie of the Year combos:

Best combined rookie seasons
Baseball-Reference.com wins above replacement used
YearAL Rookie of the YearWARNL Rookie of the YearWARCombined WAR
2012Mike Trout10.7Bryce Harper5.015.7
1964Tony Oliva6.6Dick Allen8.515.1
2001Ichiro Suzuki7.5Albert Pujols6.313.8
1975Fred Lynn7.1John Montefusco6.213.3
1976Mark Fidrych9.3Butch Metzger/Pat Zachry1.3/3.412.7*
1993Tim Salmon4.9Mike Piazza6.811.7
1984Alvin Davis5.7Dwight Gooden5.411.1
1997Nomar Garciaparra6.5Scott Rolen4.310.8
1968Stan Bahnsen5.4Johnny Bench4.910.3
1970Thurman Munson5.3Carl Morton3.89.1

Those, however, are just the single-season WAR numbers, which is all we really have to judge either Trout or Harper at this point. The future, though, seems bright. There are 14 former Rookie of the Year winners in the Hall of Fame, and there are three years in which both Rookie of the Year winners eventually were enshrined in Cooperstown -- 1956 (Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson), 1967 (Rod Carew and Tom Seaver) and 1977 (Eddie Murray and Andre Dawson), plus another that at this point looks like it will join those three great years for rookies in 2001 (Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols).

More recent vintage seasons that look like they have had two very successful players win Rookie of the Year included 2006 (Justin Verlander and Hanley Ramirez) and 2007 (Dustin Pedroia and Ryan Braun).

Oh, and just for fun, here's your bottom-10 combos:

Worst combined rookie seasons
Baseball-Reference.com wins above replacement used
YearAL Rookie of the YearWARNL Rookie of the YearWARCombined WAR
1980Joe Charboneau2.2Steve Howe0.32.5
1958Albie Pearson0.6Orlando Cepeda2.73.3
1971Chris Chambliss0.3Earl Williams3.03.3
1962Tom Tresh4.1Ken Hubbs-0.33.8
1996Derek Jeter3.0Todd Hollandsworth0.93.9
1983Ron Kittle1.6Darryl Strawberry2.44.0
1994Bob Hamelin2.4Raul Mondesi1.64.0
1959Bob Allison1.1Willie McCovey3.04.1
1961Don Schwall3.4Billy Williams0.84.2
1992Pat Listach4.2Eric Karros0.24.4

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