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February 16, 2013

Can Trout continue swimming upstream for fantasy owners?

Despite the mountains of snow found throughout the North Shore and all of Massachusetts this week, take heart: baseball season is almost here.

The first signs of spring have arrived as spring training begun this week in earnest in Florida and California. And with the start of spring training comes the beginning of fantasy baseball season.

One of the biggest questions going into many fantasy drafts is this: can Mike Trout come close to replicating his unbelievable 2012 rookie season?

Trout burst onto the scene last year like a supernova. The former first round pick hit .326 with 30 homers, 83 RBI and 49 stolen bases for the Angels. Baseball America noted in a recent issue that he had the third-highest WAR (wins against replacement) of ALL-TIME. Not just for a rookie, not just for 2012, not just among Angels all-time. His WAR rate of 10.7 ranked only behind Barry Bonds in both 2002 (11.6) and 2001 (11.6).

Trout enters the 2013 season not under the radar, as he was going into last season, but with a target painted firmly on his back. Yahoo! has ranked Trout as its No. 1 overall player going into drafts, and surely finishing second in the AL MVP vote will guarantee that he won’t last beyond the top three picks in your draft.

I find it hard to believe that Trout can replicate his amazing rookie campaign completely, but that isn’t an indictment; rather, it’s what I believe to be a realistic appraisal.

I still believe he’ll have an outstanding season in 2013, but surely the league will attempt to adjust to Trout after seeing him for almost a full season, then breaking down what worked and didn’t against him this past offseason. Trout made his own adjustments over the offseason, reportedly bulking up by 10-15 pounds, and will have to adjust on the fly to the adjustments pitchers make to him.

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