Bryce Harper, not Mike Trout, the better fantasy baseball treasure

      November 5, 2012 @ 20:35:45 PDT

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At Baseball HQ's First Pitch Arizona event this past weekend, Ron Shandler asked 12 analysts to participate in an exercise, designed to spark discussion, called the "5-Year Futures Draft."

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim OF Mike Trout
Trout: a notch below

The chief distinction between this "league" and your typical keeper league: All owners are stuck with the players they select for the next five years, no matter what.

"Stuck" is probably not the word that comes to mind if you're drafting players like Ryan Braun (who went first overall) or, say, Clayton Kershaw. But it's important to emphasize that you're making a commitment to these players for the entire period. Cinco anos.

It was an interesting draft, to say the least. I heard names called that I never would've considered, frankly. But, hey, we won't know how this thing turns out until five years from now. I may get to the rest of the results some other time, but they have little to do with my primary point.

Bryce Harper should have gone in the top three choices. Instead, he fell to No. 9 - one freakin' spot before I selected. Boy was I disappointed.

Most people seem so preoccupied with what has happened most recently. Braun I get. Mike Trout, who went second, I get, but I wouldn't get. No way. Undoubtedly, I'd have taken Harper instead of Trout, and I think that most others who passed on Harper will regret it.

Yep, I would have taken the Washington Nationals' brash youngster instead of the center fielder from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who had one of the five greatest seasons in the history of the game.

Here's why:

  • Pedigree
    • Trout was an elite prospect with unquestionable All-Star potential.
    • Harper was a once-in-a-lifetime prospect.
  • Acumen
    • Trout is a bright youngster. He largely struggled in his initial exposure to major league pitching, which came in 2011, his age-19 season. Failure had been scarce for him. He learned from that disappointment, however, and by May of 2012, he'd clearly demonstrated that he had nothing to prove in the minor leagues.
    • Harper's baseball intellect is rare. He applies lessons cultivated from previous experiences incredibly quickly. He debuted on the same date in 2012 that the Angels called up Trout. Harper didn't succeed right away in his age-19 season, but he adapted relatively rapidly and didn't require a demotion. He has already faced adversity at multiple levels and has conquered it on each occasion - swiftly. Perhaps contrary to perception, he's extremely receptive to instruction and absorbs knowledge like a paper towel does agua.
  • Expected production
    • Trout's 2012 numbers are practically certain to regress in 2013, and, as Ron stressed, stressed and stressed - and stressed - to attendees, this past campaign was extremely likely to be the Halo's career year. Although evaluators agreed that Trout was capable of production fairly close to that level at his peak, he hadn't yet produced in the minors at the pace he did once he reached the majors this year and wasn't considered likely to do so yet.
    • Trout's monumental season in a sense overshadowed Harper's thoroughly impressive 2012 campaign, which is a little surprising when one considers that Harper received so much attention for things besides his statistics. The Nats' ultimate foundation didn't make history, but he didn't do anything ... unexpected.
  • Injury risk
    • Trout's play in the outfield is super-heroic but is seemingly close to abandon. He's been watching too much highlight footage of Torii Hunter.
    • Harper plays with similar energy but is a little more under control. Each player may have a sense of indestructibility, but Harper doesn't appear to be as willing to test his threshold for pain so often.
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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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