Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will forever be linked, compared and scrutinized.
The two phenoms have a lot in common: Both are young — Harper’s 21 and Trout’s 22. Though they were drafted a year apart, both were rookies of the year in 2012. And both played on the same Arizona Fall League team in 2011.
“There was a lot of hype, but we were terrible,” Trout said of their time together in Arizona.
On Wednesday, the Nationals’ Harper and the Angels’ Trout will wrap up their first Major League series against each other.
While both players are already two-time All-Stars, their stats don’t exactly match up. Harper’s power netted him 42 home runs in his first two seasons, but his career batting average is .272. Trout, on the other hand, has had a more consistent bat, hitting .326 in 2012 and .323 last season. He’s had more power, too, with 57 home runs in those two years.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Trout had five home runs and 13 RBIs to Harper’s one homer and five RBIs.
“Everybody brings a different set of tools to the table,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “Bryce is one of our main guys, and we rely on him. The Angels rely on Mike. The comparison is natural because of all that’s been written and documented.”
Trout said he figured the two would be compared frequently, something he doesn’t mind. Harper would prefer that analysts and fans judge them individually.
“If they like him, they like him. If they like me, they like me. If they like both of us, they know the game,” Harper said. “If they don’t, they’re crazy.”
Both downplayed the notion of this series being a contest between two individuals, stating the importance of team baseball. But it’s hard to ignore the significance of two players with their potential competing on the same field.
“I know I’m a damn good player and he is too,” Harper said. “We’re going to roll through baseball for the next 20 years, hopefully, and make people turn their heads. He’s going to do it. Hopefully I can do it.”