With Wil Myers set to make his major-league debut for the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night, there is a natural comparison that arises between him and another outfielder who made his debut with a different American League club just shy of two calendar years ago.
If comparisons are going to be made between Myers and the Angels’ Mike Trout, they should start in 2011, the season where Trout actually got his first taste of the big leagues.
To establish a frame of reference, Trout played in 40 games for the Angels in 2011, batting just .220 with an OPS of .672. The combination of power and speed that he so proficiently displayed in 2012 weren’t there in his first cup of coffee with Los Angeles, as Trout had just five home runs and four stolen bases in 123 at-bats.
Trout was brought up initially as an injury replacement for Peter Bourjos, and actually returned to Double-A Arkansas after a slow start. He returned to the AL West in 2012 as a force that rocked baseball.
It appears that Myers will get a chance to play everyday for the Rays, which can only enhance his development. Myers annihilated Double-A and Triple-A pitching over the course of 2012 (.314 batting average, 37 home runs, .987 OPS), and while his numbers have dropped some in 2013, he doesn’t have much left to prove at the minor-league level.
In his last extended season in the minor leagues, Trout hit .326 with an OPS of .958. He’s a different hitter than Myers, given that Myers is slotted to hit sixth for Tampa Bay in his debut. Trout started off very conservatively for Mike Sciosica in the No. 9 hole for the Angels, before moving to his everyday leadoff role. Myers was relied on in the clean-up role for Triple-A Durham, and will likely stay in a position to drive in runs rather than score them for the majority of his career.
It’s obviously too soon to know exactly what Myers will be able to do at the major league level, but with parts of five seasons in the minor leagues under his belt – whereas Trout had just over two – it’s conceivable to think Myers will be a bit more polished against big-league hitting.
He’ll likely top the .220 batting average that Trout showed during 2011, but I can’t see Myers getting to the level that Trout was in 2012. If Myers hits .280 with decent power over the course of the season, he’ll provide a perfect complement to Evan Longoria in the heart of the order as the Rays try to stay afloat in the thick of the AL East race.