Simply put, Mike Trout is the single greatest baseball player to ever walk this Earth. Assuming that he continues to perform at a rate that is anywhere near his current career averages, he will retire as the best player in the history of Major-League Baseball.
Let’s begin with the fact that if Trout decided to suddenly retire without ever playing another game, he would undoubtedly be selected as a Hall-of-Famer. Despite his career spanning only nine seasons to this point, Trout already ranks forty-seventh all-time with 73.4 fWAR, and second among all active players, behind only Angels teammate Albert Pujols (87.7). Trout’s accumulated fWAR total outpaces probable active future HOFers Miguel Cabrera (70.6) and Joey Votto (56.2), and retired HOF legends such as Reggie Jackson (72.7), Rod Carew (72.3), Frank Thomas (72.1), Ron Santo (70.9), as well as a myriad of others.
Since his first full Major-League Season in 2012, Trout has never finished lower than fourth in AL MVP voting. In 2017, Trout only appeared in 114 games due to injury, yet still finished fourth in the MVP race. Trout has never played a full season in which he did not place at least second in MVP voting.
For some perspective, if a “full season” for Trout were to be arbitrarily defined as at least 130 games played (which is still well below the 162 game MLB season), he has finished no worse than as the runner-up for AL MVP in every one of the seven full seasons of his career. He has won the prestigious award three times, in 2014, 2016, and 2019.
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It is difficult to conceptualize Trout’s greatness, but using numbers is certainly a logical place to start. His statistical prowess is apparent in nearly every aspect of the game, which is why fWAR is the optimal measure of Trout as a player. He has never recorded less than 6.8 fWAR in any season of his career, and he has reached at least 10.1 fWAR twice. Since Trout’s rookie season in 2011, there have only been four individual ten-or-more fWAR seasons by position players in all of baseball. Trout accounts for half of them.
Trout’s career OPS is 1.000. That figure ranks best among all active players by more than .500 points (Joey Votto, .9407), and eighth all-time, less than only Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, Bonds, Foxx, Greenberg, and Hornsby.
Trout has logged at least 27 homers, 67 walks, an on-base percentage of .377, a slugging average of .550, and an OPS of .939 in every season of his career. He has also never recorded an OPS+ below 168, meaning that in his worst campaign, he was only 68% above league average.
The argument that Trout will eventually retire as the greatest baseball player of all time is built on the fact that he is unbelievably still getting better. His home run total, walk rate, and OPS numbers have all been on a steady rise for the last few years, with no signs of slowing down. Trout is only 28 years old, just entering the prime of his career. Barring any serious injury, he should have at least 6-7 good years left in him. The accumulated stat totals of these seasons, along with the accolades (and hopefully some playoff victories) that are sure to come with them, will work to cement Mike Trout as the very best to ever play the game.
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