What If The Milwaukee Brewers Had Drafted Mike Trout In 2009?

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 03: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels prepares for a spring training game against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark on March 03, 2020 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 03: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels prepares for a spring training game against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark on March 03, 2020 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Every pro sports draft comes with risks and “what-if” scenarios, and none could be bigger for the Milwaukee Brewers than the 2009 MLB Draft.

The 2009 MLB Draft class is known for producing two special talents. The first of whom is Stephen Strasburg, the first overall selection, and the second one is Mike Trout, widely regarded as the best player in baseball. Trout was selected by the Los Angeles Angels with the 25th overall selection that year. The Milwaukee Brewers held the 26th pick.

If you ask anyone from any front office now if they would’ve selected Trout had he fallen to them, the answer would be an obvious yes, because hindsight is 20/20.

In the actual draft, the Brewers ended up selecting Eric Arnett, a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Indiana. Arnett struggled as a pro and never made it past A-ball, making him a certified bust of a first round pick.

Let’s play the “what-if” scenario of what if the Angels had passed on Mike Trout with the 25th pick, and he was on the board for the Brewers at No. 26 overall and that the Brewers were probably, hopefully, smart enough to select him.

Mike Trout To The Brewers

Congratulations Milwaukee, your team has just drafted the next greatest thing to hit the baseball world! Trout soared through the minor league system, and was widely recognized as one of the top prospects in baseball, alongside Bryce Harper of the Nationals.

Enter the 2011 season, as Trout started the year as the top ranked prospect in baseball, he would’ve vastly improved the ranking of a farm system that was at the time led by Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, and Kyle Heckathorn.

Let’s think about that 2011 season for the Brewers. That was the year the Brewers won the NL Central, and made it all the way to the NLCS behind a lineup led by Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Jonathan Lucroy. Trout made his debut in the middle of 2011 as a 19 year old, and although he only hit .220 in 135 plate appearances, he would’ve played a key role on that Brewers team.

The next year, 2012, Trout would’ve earned himself the starting center field job. After Prince Fielder signed with Detroit in free agency during the previous offseason, Trout would’ve immediately filled in that production in the lineup, and the Milwaukee Brewers would not have suffered the complete offensive drop-off that they did after Fielder left.

One other side effect of this, is that Carlos Gomez never would’ve emerged as the fun-loving starting centerfielder that he did, because Trout would’ve taken over that role. Perhaps the Brewers would’ve never acquired Gomez in the first place if they knew they had Trout coming up the pipeline. The Brewers got Gomez from the Twins in a November 2009 trade that also involved J.J. Hardy.

Perhaps Trout would’ve been the runner that scored on Nyjer Morgan‘s single in the 10th inning of Game 5 of the NLDS in 2011.

No More Rebuild

The departure of Prince Fielder in free agency set the Brewers contention plans into a painfully slow death, finally culminating in the beginning of a rebuild process and the semi-retirement of GM Doug Melvin and ushering in the era of David Stearns and Craig Counsell.

If Mike Trout were here, taking over in centerfield full time in 2012 and then beyond, the Brewers would not have struggled the way they did in 2012 and 2013, and probably wouldn’t have collapsed in 2014. Trout would’ve been a Brewer through 2017 at the very least.

The Brewers would not have had to wait seven more years for their next playoff appearance, and a golden era of Brewers baseball would’ve been upon us.

Would Trout Be Even Better?

It’s hard to believe that the best player in baseball could be even better, but it’s entirely possible. Trout’s numbers have improved practically every single season, and since his debut in 2011, he has not posted an OPS below .939. Trout has won three MVPs, probably should have more, won Rookie of the Year, and has been an All-Star every full year of his career.

Trout plays half his games at Angel Stadium, which is one of the best pitcher-friendly parks in baseball, and he still hits 35-45 home runs a season. Can you imagine him playing in Miller Park, one of the most hitter-friendly stadiums in baseball?

Trout would regularly be pushing 50 home runs a season as a Brewer, and his league leading OPS numbers would go even higher.

Having someone like that in the lineup, along with the rest of those Brewers rosters, and they probably have at least one World Series title.

The Butterfly Effect

Say the Brewers have Mike Trout there in 2012, doing what he did that season. The Brewers would’ve been far more successful on the field and wouldn’t have had to trade away Zack Greinke that summer.

With a better offense, the Brewers would’ve had a different Trade Deadline strategy in 2012 and beyond, and it would’ve changed their offseason strategies as well.

Would they have ever signed Norichika Aoki? Perhaps not, and then they never would’ve traded Aoki for Will Smith. Would they have needed to trade for Gerardo Parra in 2014? Probably not, and then they wouldn’t have been able to trade him to the Orioles the next year for Zach Davies.

Since Carlos Gomez never would’ve emerged as the star that he was, he never would’ve been traded to the Astros for a huge haul, and the Brewers would not have Josh Hader or Adrian Houser.

So many things would’ve changed if the Brewers had Mike Trout during those years, and it would’ve made their current roster look so much different.

Could Yelich Have Still Been A Brewer?

That depends. Looking at the money that the Angels had to give to Mike Trout to make him stay around for his entire career, the odds are pretty slim that the the Brewers would’ve been able to afford him. Even the early career contract extension that he signed with the Angels was pretty expensive for the Brewers.

Let’s say, hypothetically, Trout would’ve walked after his final year of arbitration and became a free agent after the 2017 season and signed elsewhere. The Brewers would’ve had a major void in their outfield after his departure and acquiring Yelich prior to the 2018 season fits perfectly into that timeline.

However, the trade in its current iteration would not have worked. The Brewers would not have had Lewis Brinson because there would’ve been no need to trade away Jonathan Lucroy in 2016. They wouldn’t have had Isan Diaz because they never acquired Jean Segura in the first place because there was no need to trade away Zack Greinke in 2012 because Trout was here and the team was a playoff contender because of it.

So if the Brewers would’ve tried to acquire Yelich in January 2018 again, they would’ve had to do it with a different crop of prospects.

An Alternate Universe

It’s crazy to think how things could’ve changed for the Brewers franchise in 2009 if the draft chips had fallen the right way. Had Mike Trout fallen just one more spot and landed in the Brewers lap at 26, it would’ve been the steal of all steals. Trout would’ve led this team to numerous playoff appearances and, most likely, a World Series or two.

Everything the Brewers had done in the 2010s from a transactions standpoint would’ve completely changed.

Perhaps there’s a chance that Trout would’ve wanted to stay in Milwaukee for his entire career had he been here from the beginning. Perhaps he would’ve been like Yelich and chosen to stay here for his entire career and take a “below-market value” contract to stick around. It’s impossible to say, but man that’s a fun alternate universe to be in.

However in our actual universe, we have Christian Yelich and we are extremely grateful and happy that he’s here. There’s a lot of “what-ifs” when teams look back on old drafts, and this is a big one for the Brewers. But at least they aren’t one of the 20 teams who had a chance to select Trout but chose not to. That would be way worse.

Next. Picking The Brewers 2010s All-Decade Team. dark

The Brewers had a rough 2009 draft, with their first three selections all turning out to be busts. They got some decent value out of Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, and Mike Fiers in the later rounds, but if that class was headlined by Mike Trout, the Brewers likely would have a World Series by now.