I’m going to cut right to the chase here: yes, Mike Trout is the best player you have ever seen. Better than Barry Bonds, better than Alex Rodriguez, better than Henry Aaron, better than Willie Mays, better than anyone to ever grace the diamond, bar maybe one.
Mike Trout is the best player in the history of Major League Baseball, with maybe the exception of Babe Ruth. I’ll get into the Ruth comparison later, but as for the rest, Trout has outperformed them all throughout his career so far.
Trout was born August 7, 1991. Since the beginning of the 1991 season, which Trout wasn’t even alive to see, Trout is the 29th best player in terms of fWAR, which is Wins Above Replacement as determined by Fangraphs. Trout will likely pass Ichiro Suzuki in this regard later this week and will probably pass Edgar Martinez, Bobby Abreu, and Gary Sheffield by mid-June, if not sooner.
Even more impressively, Trout has done this in less than 1,000 games. Of those four players I just mentioned, only Edgar Martinez has fewer than twice the amount of games that Trout has. In 1,819 games since 1991, Edgar accumulated 59.3 fWAR. Trout, who has 955 career games, has 57.1 fWAR to his name. Barring Trout becoming Mickey Mendoza for a month and a half or so, Trout will match Edgar with over 800 games to spare.
The only players in the history of baseball with a higher wRC+ than Trout currently has are Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, and Barry Bonds. However, Trout is only climbing. He had his best career wRC+ last season, scoring a 189. The only player in the history of the game to put up a consistently higher number is Ruth, but since he played in an era in which home runs weren’t as relevant for other players, those numbers are inflated a bit.
At this age of their respective careers, not even Ruth was putting up the kind of numbers that Trout is currently putting up. The only player to put up a higher fWAR than Trout by his age-25 season is Ty Cobb, and even he would not have done so if Trout wasn’t hurt for an extended period of time last year.
If these Trout numbers sound overwhelming, it’s because they are supposed to. They are absolutely unprecedented. At this age and point of career, there is no one who you can definitively say is better than Trout. There just isn’t. That’s why I laugh hysterically whenever any media member says someone else is inching closer to him. Because you can’t.
It took a UCL tear in his thumb to stop Trout from winning his third MVP. It took voters being dumb to rob him of winning the award during his rookie year. It took voters having limited knowledge of advanced metrics to rob Trout of the award in 2013. It took more RBIs, yes RBIs, by Josh Donaldson to rob Trout of the award in 2015. It took a thumb injury to derail Trout’s best season yet last year.
The scariest thing is that, while he was still so dominant last year he got my MVP vote, he is only getting better. Trout has improved upon his career high wRC+ from last season. Trout’s ISO is considerably higher than any other season, meaning he’s a legitimate slugging threat. He is on pace for 11.5 fWAR and 57 home runs this season. And he isn’t even currently one of the two biggest stories on his own team.
There is only one hitter in the history of baseball that has a more WAR accumulated per game than Trout. You might have heard of him. His name is Babe Ruth. Yes, the really good one. That’s it, end of list.
So, yes, unless you are old enough to remember Babe Ruth’s career, which ended in 1935, Mike Trout is the greatest player you have ever seen in your lifetime. Even if you saw Ruth, who was the furthest thing from a 5-tool player, Trout may be the greatest player you have ever seen.
And Trout isn’t chemically assisted either, so that’s a plus. Mike Trout is Michael Jordan, and he’s on a mission to cement himself on top of the baseball hill.
Now, let’s just hope Shohei Ohtani actually develops into his Scottie Pippen.