So is he going to keep up this Superman act for years to come? Obviously, you never know -- with anyone. But think about the phenoms Trout was once compared with: Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Brett Lawrie, Xander Bogaerts. Only one of these men has been impervious to the dips and struggles almost all young hitters in history have gone through. And that, of course, would be Trout. But wait. There's ...
We can break down the swing. We can break down the approach. We can analyze the skill set. But if Trout is really going to succeed Jeter as the next Face of Baseball, it's going to require more than mere baseball talent.
It takes character, presence, charisma and the inner strength to handle the crush of a spotlight that never burns out.
So ask yourself this: Is there anyone in baseball, once Jeter fades into the rearview mirror, who fits that profile better than Trout?
"You never hear anything about this guy that's not apple pie," said Bill Sutton. "He's Jack Armstrong, and that's extremely rare. He's very quiet. He's very humble. He signs a big extension, and he's still about the team, all about winning. He's very Jeter-like. 'I' never comes up. It's always 'we' and 'us.'"
And whatever it is Trout is projecting, America is buying it. We know, because the public already has spoken on this topic, via polling that was done earlier this year by Repucom, a company that measures celebrity appeal both inside and outside of sports by measuring the "DBI" score of stars in all walks of life.
On one hand, in separate polls of 1,000 Americans, age 13 to 75, who didn't necessarily define themselves as sports fans, a much higher percentage of those surveyed indicated they were "aware" of Jeter (75.4 percent) than Trout (25.62). And that's understandable. But ...
Trout actually outrated Jeter in every other category in the survey among those who were aware of both players:
So what does that response tell us? It tells us, said Sutton, that Trout's "heroic appeal is contrary to the times in which he plays. He is humble at a time when our stars are not humble. He is wholesome, in a traditional way, as our athletes are tattooed and nontraditional. He is a consummate team player with both grace and power. He is capable of almost Herculean achievements, and he plays in a glamour market. ... There are no negatives with this guy."
And as rare as that is, here's what's even more rare: It became clear, over the two months we worked on this story, that it isn't just the general public that perceives Trout this way. It's also the rest of baseball.
Guess which player got more All-Star votes in this year's player balloting than anyone else? It was Trout, of course. In fact, he got more than twice as many votes (731) as Jeter (344), for what that's worth.
But go beyond that -- and listen to how people inside the game talk about him:
• From Freese: "He's got the drive to be one of the best ever. ... He's one of those guys, one of very few guys, who's got that gear that the great ones have. Which is really admirable, to have it that young. And he's not going to change. I don't think I've ever seen him turn down an autograph, which is impressive. ... He loves everything that baseball brings."