At the start of the season, there's no one in baseball I would have traded Matt Kemp for. But now, I would exchange him straight up for Mike Trout, the superb fielder, baserunner and hitter who just turned 21. Not that the Angels are offering.
I was curious about at what moment this gigantic shift in the baseball landscape took place. Some would have done it before the season, but I'd have waited until Trout had shown more than the .281 on-base percentage and .390 slugging he displayed in 2011. On the other hand, I'd say definitely by July 22, when Trout reached 300 at-bats in 2012 with a 1.016 OPS, 15 home runs and 31 steals in 34 attempts (climaxed by a 10-game stretch against three potential division champions — the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers — in which he went 19 for 42 with a .511 on-base percentage, .857 slugging, three homers and five steals).
Obviously, Trout will have his slumps, and anything can happen to derail a young player's career. But the same is true for Kemp, who is still one of the best around. Even before you get into his current salary, it's hard to argue that Trout isn't the most valuable player in the game. And it happened so fast.
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