If you heard it once, you heard it 100 times during Tuesday night's All-Star Game: Mike Trout could be "The Next Derek Jeter."
As players, the two men are very different. Most who make the comparison are talking about how they carry themselves on and off the field.
On ESPN.com, veteran baseball scribe Jayson Stark wrote: "This is the night, this is the time, this is the place where their paths diverge."
The article included a projection of the 22-year-old Trout's career stats. The projected final numbers were staggering and would place Trout among the game's all-time greats.
That got us thinking: Using the same method, what would a projection of Jeter's career stats at a comparable point in his career have looked like?
The short answer: Not as good as the Captain's actual stats. But pretty darn good.
The method used to project Trout's career stats is called ZiPS. It is the brainchild of Dan Szymborski of ESPN.com.
(ZiPS stands for sZymborski projection system. Hey, he created it . . .)
Szymborski ran a ZiPS projection for Jeter using his actual stats from 1995-98 -- about the point where Trout is now (Trout debuted in 2011).
Jeter was 24 when the 1999 season began. According to ZiPS, Jeter would have finished a 21-year career in 2015 with the following lifetime numbers. Also included are his actual career stats:
Remember, this was a projection of Jeter's entire career after only three full seasons. The Yankees still have 66 games to play, so the counting stats will go up if Jeter stays healthy.
Jeter outstripped the projection in batting average, OPS, hits and doubles. The projection gave him too many triples. It was spot-on in terms of homers, RBIs and stolen bases and close on WAR (wins above replacement).
"As long-term projections go, ZiPS did a decent job with the Jeter projection, probably closer than the average result," Szymborski said. "Simply put, projecting what happens in 15 years is an incredibly difficult task, and while Jeter's career ended up beating his ZiPS projection for offense -- the WAR comes out about the same -- the computer did extrapolate a Hall of Fame career for No. 2."
ZiPS also spat out the most comparable players to 1998 Jeter (excluding players who came after Jeter). The list includes Hall of Famers Barry Larkin, Paul Molitor, Roberto Alomar and Lou Boudreau, as well as Jim Fregosi, Tony Fernandez, Harvey Kuenn, Delino DeShields, Alan Trammell and Julio Franco.
So again, after only three seasons, Jeter already was being projected as a Hall of Famer, a near-Hall of Famer or a very good player. Pretty neat.
As for Trout, ZiPS is appropriately bullish on his future. It projects him as finishing a 20-year career with a slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .286/.394/.514 and an OPS of .908.
The system also projects Trout to end with 2,862 hits, 547 doubles, 165 triples, 468 home runs, 1,596 RBIs, 519 stolen bases and a WAR of 130.4.
That WAR would place Trout eighth all-time among position players behind Babe Ruth (183.6), Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Tris Speaker and Honus Wagner.
One more statistical thought on Jeter: Baseball analysts have long debated whether "clutch" hitting exists or is just a function of opportunity or random chance.
So what then to make of Jeter's lifetime batting average of .481 in All-Star Games? Can you be "clutch" in an exhibition game?
Perhaps the answer lies in creating a new category: The Big Stage Player.
Jeter has always excelled on big stages. His career postseason slash line (.308/.374/.465 for an OPS of .838) is similar to his regular-season totals. But the postseason at-bats presumably come against the best teams and best pitchers in the biggest games.
So add that to Jeter's resume: Big Stage Player. Not that he needs it.