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Ron Washington on Mike Trout: “He’s not Willie Mays”

Jul 23, 2012, 11:51 AM EDT

Willie Mays AP

Mike Trout has hit .441 with two homers, three steals, six walks, nine RBIs, and eight runs in nine games against Texas this season, but Rangers manager Ron Washington isn’t quite ready to induct him into Cooperstown yet:

He’s not Willie Mays. He’s a pretty good player, but I think the comparisons have to stop. Let the kid play. When he’s been here five years, six years, then you can start doing that.

I’m sure Angels fans will take offense to that, but Washington makes a relatively reasonable point about hype and hot starts and letting a career breath a little bit.

On the other hand, when you’re a 20-year-old rookie and people feel the need to say things like “he’s not Willie Mays” … well, you’re doing some amazing things. Plus, it’s worth noting that Willie Mays wasn’t even WILLIE MAYS yet as a 20-year-old rookie, when he hit .274 with 20 homers, seven steals, and an .828 OPS in 121 games for the Giants in 1951.

Trout is hitting .357 with 15 homers, 31 steals, and a 1.016 OPS in 74 games. Right now Trout is the best player in the American League and arguably the best player in all of baseball, and in only 16 more days he’ll be able to legally drink alcohol.

  1. citizenking77 - Jul 23, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Ron Washington is no Tony La Russa.

  2. jarathen - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    This Angels fan agrees with Ron Washington, and trust me, like most halos fans, I’m desparately in love with Mike Trout. But let him play a few years, see how his body holds up to the game, how he responds to better scouting, etc. Let the kid play, and most importantly, let him be Mike Trout.

  3. Kevin Gillman - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Bob Feller said the same thing when Steven Strasberg pitched in his rookie season, and everyone was gooing all over him. He said “Wait until he wins 100 games, then I will be impressed”. This is a legend talling it like it is. Steven then had to go through TJ surgery, and we never know if he can win 100 games, just like with Trout. We don’t know, so let’s not compare him to Willie Mays, or Hank Aaron. Let’s just enjoy this season he has put up, and go from there.

    • aceinthehole12 - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      I think once this inning limit is lifted from Stras he’ll crank out a couple 20+ win seasons. Especially in Washington with that lineup and bullpen.

      • Kevin Gillman - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

        That’s not the point, the point is the media puts so much spin into these new players now adays and say “So and so is the next so and so”. Just let them play, let them get their feet wet. Sure they are awesome players right now, but nobody should compare Stras to even Bob Feller, or Roger Clemens, just let him get adjusted. It’s difficult to be consistent in the Major Leagues, same with Trout. He is fun to watch, but we’ll see down the road if those players can sustain a Major League career.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2012 at 3:05 PM

        When has the media not said “such and such is the next so and so?” The media has always done that….the next Babe Ruth, the next Hank Aaron, the next Wayne Gretzky, the next Michael Jordan….they (and we, the fans) have always made those premature comparisons…and they always will.

    • jon623 - Jul 24, 2012 at 12:16 AM

      Completely and entirely agree with you! I left a similar comment the other night in an article about Bryce Harper coming back from his ankle injury that’s comments started spinning out of control, ranting and raving about either Harper or Trout. These kids are INCREDIBLE athletes, and the MLB is in great hands going forward with these two and other young talent… but they are still kids. Exactly as you were saying, lets just sit back and enjoy watching these kids love the game and see how they do after 3-5 years. I’m pumped to see what Trout and Harper do going forward, but I feel bad for the pressure being put on them by the media. If you were a young and talented baseball player, how would you feel being compared to and expected to play on the level of one of the all time greats in Willie Mays? What a brutal spotlight that would be.

      Lets enjoy watching them grow, fellas. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.

      • Kevin Gillman - Jul 24, 2012 at 12:24 AM

        I have to admit, both Trout and Harper have handled this pressure with such maturity and class. They just both go out, and play baseball. Strasburg too, I remember when Feller said that comment about him right before Steven pitched against my Indians. You’re right, MLB is in good hands. When I started watching baseball, it was in the 1980s and I was a Braves fan, because of Superstation TBS, plus my Grandparents at the time lived in North Carolina, and they became Braves fans, like I did. They had a player back in 1985, 1986 named Bob Horner, who went from being drafted, straight to the Majors. Steven only pitched in the Minors for, what, 3 months? I can’t ever imagine the pressure these kids have gone through to become the players they are. Thinking back when I was 20, I don’t think I could have handled it like they did. So yeah, let’s sit back and just watch.

  4. mrwillie - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Wash is just responding to media sensationalism; and he’s right, let the kid be for a while. He’s an amazing player, his stats prove it, no need to hype the kid in his rookie year to being the next WIllie Mays. He’s Mike Trout and that seems to be a pretty damn good thing. Sure wish he played for my team.

    Nothing that was said was offensive or out of bounds…fair comment.

    • sabatimus - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      No, the comments weren’t out of bounds at all. But, rest assured, the media will continue to coddle and ultra-microscope Trout.

    • vallewho - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:20 PM

      People often get criticized for speaking the truth. I hope the kid becomes as good or better the WM. But let him play out 5-10 years first….

  5. Joe - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Willie Mays was the first Mike Trout.

    • jon623 - Jul 24, 2012 at 12:16 AM

      Willie Mays was Willie Mays, and that’s all there was to it.

  6. SmackSaw - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Of course not. Willie Mays is over 80 years old.

  7. psuravens19 - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    I can’t stop thinking of that catch he had in Baltimore against Hardy… watching it happen live, I just had a feeling he was going to make that play. Trout has become my favorite player in baseball and just wish he was wearing an O’s uniform.

    • mybrunoblog - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      What a sad state of affairs in Baltimore when their fans have favorite players on opposing teams. I understand fans admire guys on other ball clubs but having a “favorite” on another team just seems odd to me. I’m a Yankees fan. Always loved Ripken but in my heart he could never be a “favorite” of mine. He wore the other teams uniform.

      • Bryz - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        Seriously? Mike Napoli is one of my favorite players, and he’s never worn a Twins uniform. You easily can have favorite players that don’t play for your team.

      • CJ - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        Not if you’re the yankees, Bryz. If you’re the Yankees and you secretly have a favorite player on another team, you despise him out loud, lust after him quietly, and overpay for him the first chance you get. Now he becomes your favorite Yankee and all is right with the world. It’s the circle of life in the universe.

      • mrwillie - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:35 PM

        If you can’t have “a favorite” player outside of your own team then you really don’t have much of an appreciation for baseball.

        There’s a whole other world outside of the pinstripes bub, you should check it out sometime.

      • jon623 - Jul 24, 2012 at 12:19 AM

        What a sad state of affairs it is when someone claiming to love the game of baseball is too blinded by “team loyalty” to appreciate and love tremdous athleticism and talent, no matter what jersey that player is wearing.

    • sabatimus - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      I saw that catch on replay and I thought: “That’s one of the sickest catches I’ve ever seen in ANY era”.

  8. Ben - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    He very reasonably is Willie Mays if he doesn’t go all Grady Sizemore on us.

  9. pisano - Jul 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Hey Ron, sounds like sour grapes to me.

    • bigharold - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      Actually, I think Washington’s comments are accurate. You gotta wonder if he wasn’t the manager of the Angel’s chief AL West rival would they be considered even noteworthy. Moreover, what is implied here too is that this type of comparison is not only a waste of time but could actually be detrimental to Trout in the long run.

      Exactly how does all the hype make him a better player? If anything it adds pressure that works against him. He might well start thinking about how great he’s suppose to be or who he’s suppose to be better than rather then just being the best he can be and honing his skills. Not to mention that as soon as people get a little tired of the hype, the hype machine starts working against him. As baseball fans we have been know to take perverse pleasure in tearing down the guys we at first build. Case in point, Joba Chamberlain.

      Let the guy play a few seasons then “early” indications of his potential can be evaluated with anything resembling intelligence. He’s off to a great start but I think he should play more than about a half a season before he’s compared to HOFers.

  10. b7p19 - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    No reason you can’t compare him to 20 year old Willie Mays. And next year you can compare him to 21 year old Willie Mays, ect…

    • b7p19 - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Especially since he’s been every bit the player Mays was at this point, and even a bit more…

      • b7p19 - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM

        That said, I wouldn’t bet my five peice spicy chicken nuggets against $10,000 that it continues…

        Also, I just double replied to my own comment.

  11. liamj55 - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    He’s not Willie Mayes but he is Mickey Mantle….

    • normcash - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      This is the exact comparison Al Kaline made last week. And No. 6 doesn’t throw around
      compliments. I think he’s right, too—this kid has power, speed, a great arm, hits to all
      fields…the only thing Mantle did that Trout doesn’t is switch-hit. Maybe he has holes in
      his swing that haven’t yet been exploited (he does chase high fastballs sometimes), but
      Al Kaline knows a thing or two about 20-year hitting phenoms, doesn’t he?

      And to think the Tigers could have drafted him…but they picked Jacob Turner! Turner may
      become a good pitcher one day, but Trout looks like a once-in-a-generation type player.

      • jarathen - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:07 PM

        Trout’s arm is his one weakness, actually. he’s not Johnny Damon out there, but he doesn’t have a rocket, either.

  12. florida76 - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    This discussion reminds me how ESPN touted Jason Heyward as the next Mickey Mantle during Heyward’s first game. That turned out to be absurd so far, so let’s ratchet back the hype and let events play out. There have been numerous players in baseball history with excellent first seasons, only to fizzle later.

  13. dexterismyhero - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    He is no Ozzie Guillen either. He can actually talk.

    Hope he stays healthy. Big guy with wheels.

    I watched the triple he got the other day and he just flys around the bases.

  14. geoknows - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Let’s see what he does once pitchers figure out that all they have to do to get him out is pitch him up.

    • mrwillie - Jul 23, 2012 at 1:39 PM

      You should work for a club somewhere since you have some secret information than no major league pitcher, or scout has yet to figure out. You really could have a new career here.

    • sabatimus - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      Adjust? That’s what all good players do: adjust. If you don’t adjust, you’re out of the league within 3 or 4 seasons.

    • Joe - Jul 23, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      Oh, they figured it out, all right. They just want to make sure they discover all other ways to get Trout out, so they are holding off for now on everybody pitching him up. The fact that he’s crushing more than ever this month shows that they still haven’t yet found his other weaknesses, but it’s really the best to let him kill you in the short term just to make sure you’ve covered your bases.

      They’ll start pitching him up soon enough, my friend, at which point his career will be devastated. Just you wait and see.

  15. ptfu - Jul 23, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    That wasn’t the whole Ron Washington quote. What he actually said about Trout: “He’s not Willie Mays HAYES” and on that we can all agree :-)

  16. papacrick - Jul 23, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Sorry Miguel Cabrera is the best player in baseball. He does it every year and plays every game. This kid sucked when he first came up and he’s been great for three months. This is dumber then the Josh Hamilton loveliest earlier this year. ESPN jumped off the AL East bandwagon and now it’s just players from the AL West. They’re too blind to notice that Miggy is now once again the only player to have a shot at the triple crown

  17. jengibre23 - Jul 23, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Mike Trout for MVP. I watch this kid everyday and I have never seen a more exciting player to watch in the AL since probably ichiro in te early 2000s. He not only has great stats but he can be the only player EVER with a .340 BA 20 HR and 40 Steals at the end of a season. Also he revived a team that was going nowhere and made everybody play better with his overall ability and energy. If he doesn’t win the MVP it will be just like Matt Kemp last season.

  18. pkswally024 - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Mike makes Cumberland County proud! Go Phills!

  19. riverace19 - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    It’s hard to think of anyone else for AL MVP… .350+, 31 SB out of 34 attempts, 15 HR, and 70 runs scored in 74 games, OPS over 1.000
    Fred Lynn won ROY and MVP in 1975…
    Trout will join his elite company.

    Many will say Ichiro won both in 2001 and yes he did. I can’t justify giving ROY to a player that played 8-9 seasons in Japan however, so in my mind Fred Lynn is the only one to do it so far.

    • jon623 - Jul 24, 2012 at 12:36 AM

      I’m with ya. I’m a Mariners fan and love Ichiro (will miss him), but I still think the ROY thing is a little bogus when a guy has played for years in a different country. Ichiro is an incredible athlete and deserving of many titles, but the ROY system is a little flawed.

  20. notsofast10 - Jul 23, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Well Mr Washington seems to like to just spew things to make himself look good. While watching the game last night, ESPN interviewed him in the middle innings and when he was asked about Trout, who tripled in the first inning, he replied that Harrison left one up in the zone and that Trout took advantage of his mistake. That’s fine except Harrison threw Trout a Change Up that was about 8 inches off the ground on the outer part of the plate. Just another case of him making up Sh*t even when he does not know what he is talking about.

  21. yahmule - Jul 23, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    It’s natural and normal for people to make comparisons about all kinds of things. It will be up to Trout to maintain the proper perspective and I believe he’s quite capable of doing that. I have made the Angels my default choice on Extra Innings just so I can watch this phenom as often as possible. My girlfriend and I drove from Vegas to Anaheim to see him play in person last Friday. Our reward was watching him smash his 15th home run of the season in a 6-1 win over Texas. I would encourage all baseball fans to watch him play whenever possible. You won’t be disappointed.

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