Senior Baseball Columnist

Weekend Buzz: 2012 is just the beginning for Harper, Trout


Mike Trout's numbers in May: .324 average, five HRs, 11 walks, 16 RBI, 21 runs and eight SBs. (Getty Images)  
Mike Trout's numbers in May: .324 average, five HRs, 11 walks, 16 RBI, 21 runs and eight SBs. (Getty Images)  

The Weekend Buzz while you were enjoying a sure sign of summer, the opening show from Jimmy Buffett's Lounging at the Lagoon tour from Houston on XM/Sirius' Radio Margaritaville. ...

1. Harper Valley PTA: He wasn't a coverboy of a national magazine at 16 and he hasn't generated the reams of ink and bytes as that kid playing in the shadow of the White House.

But if Mike Trout isn't a better prospect than Bryce Harper, then he at least belongs in the same sentence.

See what I did there? The two are in the same sentence!

Seriously. You tell me:

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Harper or Trout?

You're starting a team from scratch, which one do you take?

If we've come to no other definitive conclusions over the past month, we should all be able to agree on this: Watching these two over the next decade-plus is going to be one spectacular treat. Already, it's reminiscent of the old 1950s arguments in New York City over whom was the best center fielder, the Giants' Willie Mays, the Yankees' Mickey Mantle or the Dodgers' Duke Snider.

The only thing missing with Harper and Trout is Terry Cashman to write the lyrics.

On Sunday, Harper, 19, was named as the National League rookie of the month for May and Trout, 20, was named as the American League rookie of the month. The parallel path surely is only beginning.

You cannot take your eyes off either one of these guys. You never know when either is going to make a game-changing play with his bat, glove or legs. Harper is a true five-tool player. Trout is close, and what he lacks in Harper's arm strength, he makes up for in speed.

The most exciting play in baseball right now is Trout racing for a triple. A scout clocked him from the home to first in 3.53 seconds last month. That's from the right-handed batter's box.

Harper was recalled on April 28 on a supposedly temporary basis. Now there's a better chance that Ted Williams will return to manage in Washington, D.C., than there is of Harper being sent down. He batted .271 during the month of May, led all NL rookies with 21 runs scored and four triples.

When Trout was recalled on April 27, the Angels were 6-14. They are 22-12 since with Trout batting .324 with six doubles, two triples, five homers, 11 walks, 16 RBI, 21 runs scored and eight steals during the month of May.

Twice, Trout has tripled to left field. OK, so Raul Ibanez was in left for one of them. Didn't stop Yankees manager Joe Girardi from raving about Trout and his three-baggers before he left town last week.

Saturday night, Trout tagged from third and beat Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz's throw home. (Well, the Rangers didn't think he beat the throw, and replays were inconclusive. Either way, nobody runs like that on Cruz, who has one of the game's most powerful arms).

Harper's steal of home against Cole Hamels a couple of weeks ago, meanwhile, might be the signature play of the season. Since his arrival, the Nationals have produced the NL's fifth-best OPS (.747). Before Harper's arrival? The Nats' OPS was a middling .642.

Meantime, Harper is batting .333 (8 for 24) with a double, two triples, one homer and five RBI when he puts the first pitch of an at-bat in play. He belted his fifth homer by hacking at Tommy Hanson's first pitch in the first inning of Sunday's 3-2 loss to Atlanta ... then checked his swing in taking a mature-beyond-his-years walk against reliever Eric O'Flaherty as the Nats threatened in the eighth.

Harper or Trout? There is no wrong answer. All I know is this: Ten years from now, whatever else happens, we'll be looking back at 2012 as the year it all started for these two.

2. No-han Santana and asterisks: You may have heard: Johan Santana fired the first no-hitter in Mets history. You also may have heard: Umpire Adrian Johnson completely botched the call on Carlos Beltran's line drive that clearly landed on the chalk down the third-base line (he called it foul). That led the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to go with the headline "No-Hitter*", which led to this classic from a New York Daily News story:

"Apparently, the Post-Dispatch couldn't locate the asterisk key while Mark McGwire was swatting 220 steroid-aided home runs while a member of the Cardinals and setting bogus records in St. Louis."

3. No-run R.A. Dickey and the encore: Score one for the Cardinals for getting a hit the day after Santana no-hit 'em ... but they still couldn't score and were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since August, 2010.

It shouldn't be fair, Dickey and his fluttering knuckleball following the lefty Santana, but it is and that's one reason why the surprising Mets are challenging for first place in the NL East. Dickey's knuckler baffled the Cardinals as it fluttered in at speeds between 59 and 80 mph -- and it sure put the pressure on Dickey, too.

"It's no easy chore to follow Johan," Dickey said, "I went to bed reminding myself to bring what I bring and be myself."

4. Quick, someone get Gavin Floyd some counseling! If the White Sox right-hander doesn't need it this minute, he's going to need it soon. Robin Ventura's club has strengthened its grip on first place in the AL Central no thanks to poor Floyd: The only three games the White Sox have lost in their past 17 have been his starts.

5. Hamstrings and energy drinks: In a cleaned up baseball world more devoid of steroids and greenies than in a long time, there are many who believe one contributing culprit to the inordinate amount of injuries this year is ... drum roll ... energy drinks. It's true. Buster Olney did a piece on it Sunday on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and a manager was telling me the same thing recently, too.

The thinking, in a nutshell, is this: Without access to greenies but faced with the same grueling schedule and travel demands as ever, many players are turning to energy drinks to help battle fatigue. These energy drinks are laced with caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration. This, combined with profuse sweating over the course of a baseball game, can really lead to dehydration ... and the pulling and straining of muscles.

I cannot swear to the science behind this, but there is no question that it is a growing topic of discussion within the game.

6. Giants closing fast: Don't look now, but the Giants trail the Dodgers by only three games in the NL West. And nine of their next 12 are against the Padres, Astros and Mariners.

7. Where have you gone, Fausto Carmona? The Indians are sliding, in no small part because, as STATS_LLC points out, in losing six of eight into Sunday, their rotation compiled a 9.52 ERA and had surrendered a .343 batting average to opposing batters. Then Justin Masterson (three earned runs in six innings) was tagged with another loss on Sunday, and Cleveland now has lost seven of nine games since sweeping Detroit in what, at the time, looked like a statement series.

8. Pirates shock the world (well, Milwaukee): Mark it down: The Pirates, 5-38 in their past 43 games in Milwaukee, won Sunday to take two of three from the Brewers. "Times are changing around here ... #BelieveIt" tweeted Andrew McCutchen, clearly with good reason.

9. Motown down, where's the crown? Picked to run away with the AL Central, the Tigers are now four games under .500, trail the White Sox by six and are heading straight toward the iceberg if this doesn't change: Starters not named Justin Verlander are 10-15 with a 4.77 ERA.

10. Draft on Monday: Which means, everyone's waiting to see if the team with the No. 1 pick blows it or not. All the best, Astros.


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