Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout hit for the cycle Tuesday evening, becoming the youngest player to do so in American League history. The cycle is unusual, but not as rare as, say, a perfect game, with 294 occurrences. It's more a novelty than anything else -- a player going 4-for-4 with two, three, or four home runs had himself a historic day. A player who hits for the cycle has had a good day to be sure, but it's more notable for variety than anything else.
In Trout's case, the cycle serves notice of something we already knew from his spectacular rookie season: this is a versatile player who can do everything a hitter can do at a high level. He's so good, in fact, that to this point he's been "disappointing" in 2013, though only in contrast to what he did last year. Heading into last night's action, he was hitting .278/.363/.517 with eight home runs. For almost any 21-year-old in the major leagues these would be astoundingly good numbers, but they somehow seemed lacking because he spent a good chunk of last season hitting .350 before finishing at .326. It is unfair to hold a player to that high a standard, but it's a credit to the high bar Trout set for himself. If that's the worst he can do, we'll be watching his Hall of Fame induction in roughly 25 years.
At the end of the day, Trout's cycle is just one more good day in a brief career that has already been filled with them, and a high point in an Angels season that has been filled with lows. This team has had its share of Hall of Famers and near-Hall of Famers, players like Tim Salmon, Reggie Jackson, Brian Downing, Rod Carew, Bobby Grich, Don Baylor, and Jim Edmonds. Trout might already be the best player in baseball history. We saw the reason why last night.
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