By: Noah Wright
Mike Trout is one of the most underappreciated players in the entire MLB. He’s just not as popular as guys such as Bryce Harper, or Aaron Judge. It kind of shows itself in jersey sales. Entering 2019, Trout wasn’t #1 (Harper), #2 (Judge) or #3 (Mookie Betts). He was ranked at #4. It was even worse after 2017 when he had the 8th highest selling jersey. But regardless, his greatness in baseball far surpases his popularity among current baseball players.
Put this into perspective. Mike Trout is currently top 100 all time in bWAR with a 70.1 bWAR. At just 27 years old, Trout is tied with Gary Carter for the 98th highet WAR of all time. The all-time WAR leader, Babe Ruth when he was 27, had a WAR of just 50.3. Granted he spend part of that time as a pitcher, but even in his first 7 years as an outfielder (1919-1925), Ruth’s WAR was still lower than Trout’s at 69.4). Trout has averaged about 10 WAR a season since 2015, and at 6 bWAR right now, he’s on pace to do it again. If he finishes the 2019 season with 10 bWAR, he’ll rank just below Reggie Jackson (74.1, 80th all time) and just above Frank Thomas (73.9, 81st all time). If Trout finishes the next 3 years after 2019 with a 10 WAR every season, assuming he’d finish with a WAR around 10 this year, he would have a WAR of 104.1 which would put him in the top 30 of all time WAR.
Another legendary player to compare Trout to is Willie Mays. Through his first 7 full MLB seasons, Trout has a triple slash of .310/.420/.579. Mays from ‘54-’60 had a line of .325/.396/.604. While Mays had the edge in power, Trout still has the higher OBP, and higher overall OPS. Trout also has a higher OPS+ than Mays between 1954 and 1960 (178 compared to 164). That OPS+ of 178 through his first 7 full MLB seasons is also higher than Albert Pujols’ (167), Hank Aaron’s (152), Stan Musial’s (172), Frank Robinson’s (150), and Alex Rodriguez’s (148) through all of their first 7 full seasons in the MLB.
Trout has finished in the top 4 of MVP voting since the first full year of his career dating back to 2012. The last player to even come close to a 7 year streak of finishing top 4 in MVP voting is Pujols’ 6 year streak between 2001 and 2006.
Mike Trout was drafted 25th overall in the 2009 MLB draft. All 25 players, including Trout, have a combined WAR that equates to 203.0. Of the 203.0, Trout makes up about 34.5% of the entire first 25 picks of the draft. Of the first 30 picks of the draft, his WAR still makes up about 34% of the 30 players selected.
While WAR and OPS+ are all great ways of measuring a player’s ability, how does he look in some of the counting stats? Well Trout’s speed and power is legendary in and of itself. Sure he’s not hitting 50 home runs a season, but rarely do you ever see such a speed/power combo like Trout’s. He is the youngest player ever to reach both 100 home runs and stolen bases. Currently, Trout is on pace to finish the season as one of, if not the youngest player to reach 200 home runs and 200 stolen bases. In terms of runs scored even though it's more of a reflection of your team's ability to drive you in, Trout has 844 runs scored from 2012 to 2019. In a similar amount of time, Rickey Henderson only eclipses Trout with 862 runs scored between '79 and '86.
From his first full MLB season to 2019, Trout has averaged about 170 hits a season. Currently, he has 1278 career hits. Assuming he reaches 170 hits this season, Trout will have 1357 career hits in the MLB. If Trout keeps on this pace, he will reach 3000 hits in his age 37 season, about the same pace that all time hits leader Pete Rose reached 3K hits. In Rose's age 37 season, he reached the plateau of 3000 hits.
Trout is an all time legend already...at just 27 years old. It's hard to fathom what Trout is doing. Trout isn't just a generational talent, but a guy who is a once in a lifetime talent. Trout is more than on pace to be a Hall Of Famer, and one of the few players who will have a good shot at getting the elusive unanimous ballot into Cooperstown.