Manny Machado has unofficially joined the ranks of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout for top players in baseball. It's one of a lot of things that have happened so far in the season. So with that, I'm diving back in to break down who the best to build a team around is.
Trout's the oldest of these guys, at 24. Harper and Machado are both 23, with the latter being about four months older than the former.
Big league resume
Harper and Machado both enjoyed mega-breakout seasons last year, launching them from pretty good players to superstars. However, Trout broke out in 2012 with maybe the greatest rookie season of all time, hitting .326/.399/.564 with 49 stolen bases, a campaign so great he nearly beat out the triple crown winning Miguel Cabrera for MVP. Trout may be a year older than Harper and Machado, but his body of work at still such a young age.
This is the toughest category to decide. Harper had the highest batting average last year at .330, but he's still more of a brute power guy. After his first two years, Trout's been sticking around the .290-.310 range, right there with Machado. That said, Machado's swing couldn't be smoother, and unlike Harper's, which is a clearly that of a power hitter, his is one that has a good chance of winning a batting title some day.
This one's easy. Harper's on the same level as Dave Kingman for power.
We haven't seen anyone like Machado since A-Rod was in his prime, someone that tall and athletic who can play both third and short. Trout's been pretty good, saving five runs last year with his glove, according to fangraphs, but Machado is on a different planet, both in range and versatility.
One of the saddest developments in baseball over the last few years has been the erosion of Trout's speed on the basepaths. His rookie year he stole 49 bases, which, paired with his 30 homers made him look like an obvious candidate to join the 40-40 club eventually. Instead, his homers have increased each year, but his stolen bases have dropped, from 49 to 33 to 16 to 11. What was a big part of his game has been diminished, leaving him with one less dimension than he had before. That said, he has nine already this year, so it could be making a comback. Harper and Machado both steal a little bit but never have at the volume of Trout, even if it was a few years ago.
This is so close, I'd love to name it a three-way tie, but that would be a cop-out. Trout's the safest choice, since he has the largest body of work, but I'll give it to Harper because out of those three guys, he appears to have the most room for improvement, even though he had the best season of those three in 2015.