Mike Trout: A new GOAT in town?

Twenty-five…that’s how many teams passed up on Mike Trout in the 2009 MLB Draft. Imagine being the general manager or scouting directors of those teams. Scratching your head in 2017 and saying: “how the hell did we miss this kid?”

There are no excuses for getting around this lapse in judgment. Because what team couldn’t use a five-tool center fielder who’s won two MVPs, five Silver Sluggers, and was voted a six-time All Star?

So how did people miss out on a guy like Mike Trout? It’s not like anyone missed the boat on Bryce Harper or Alex Rodriguez, both of whom were high school prodigies. Trout was so consistently good in all areas and not flashy enough that he didn’t garner that first-overall pick in the 2009 draft.

But if you ask his manager Mike Scioscia, he’ll probably be thankful for Trout’s consistency. That’s what makes him the best player in the game.

“To appreciate Mike, it’s not the sensational. It’s what he does on a daily basis. He plays defense. The way he runs the bases. Combine that with what he does in the batter’s box, never taking a pitch or play off. That maturity has made Mike do what he’s done so far in his career.

“What you see every day is a guy who isn’t chasing numbers. He’s playing the game to win, [and] does whatever he needs to do on the field to help us win.”

– Mike Scioscia

Do you want to know the sign of an elite athlete? It’s their ability to visualize success before it even happens. Trout is a master of that.

Trout suffered a thumb injury two months after the season started which forced him to ride the pine during all of June and some of July. Once he came back from the disabled list he flipped a switch – as if he went from Clark Kent to Superman in the blink of an eye. He is hitting .318 with 26 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 67 runs scored, and some are saying that he has a great shot at winning his third AL MVP with a solid month of September.

According to Fan Graphs’ projections, Trout should finish the 2017 season having played in 111 games with an average of .316, 33 home runs, 80 RBIs, and 88 runs. Those numbers would be celebrated by a normal player, but for Trout that’s an average season for him – seriously his 162-game average is hovering around those numbers.

Now here’s a question: Is Mike Trout – at 26 years old – going to be the greatest baseball player to ever live?

For fun let’s assume Fan Graphs is right with their projections on Trout’s end-of-the-year stats. That would leave him with an average of .307, 204 home runs, 577 RBI, 1,044 hits, and 688 runs scored.

Over the past few years Trout has been compared to other 5-tool players of the past, so let’s examine their numbers by the time they were 26 years old to see if Trout matches up.

Micky Mantle 

Image Source: Twitter

The Mick is who the guy people compare Trout to the most. Likely due to the fact that Mantle’s career was cut short due to injuries and alcohol abuse. Mantle played at his peak performance in his early 20’s up until he was 30. Once he hit age 31, he began a steep decline that left people wondering how he didn’t end up being the greatest home run hitter of all time – especially with all of that power from both sides of the plate.

Mantle at 26: .314 avg, 249 home runs, 766 RBI, 1238 hits, 890 runs.

Trout projected: .307 avg, 204 home runs, 577 RBI, 1,044 hits, and 688 runs

Conclusion: To be fair Mantle played a full season at age 19 compared to Trout’s 40 games. As for the RBI and runs scored, Mantle played on some impressive Yankees’ teams while Trout has always been the run-producer for the Angels.

Hank Aaron

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Hammering Hank is by far the greatest baseball player to ever walk the face of this earth. The man’s average season is an elite season for the young Angels’ outfielder. But we’ll still compare the numbers.

Aaron at 26: .318 avg, 219 home runs, 743 RBI, 1309 hits, 714 runs

Trout projected: .307 avg, 204 home runs, 577 RBI, 1,044 hits, and 688 runs

Conclusion: Surprisingly enough, Aaron’s numbers vs. Trout’s are not that far off. But this doesn’t mean Trout can reach Aaron’s HR mark of 755 by the end of his career. The former Braves slugger played 22 seasons and AVERAGED 37 HR and 113 RBI every year – meaning Trout would have to pick up the pace and play into his early 40’s.

Willie Mays

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If Hank Aaron was the greatest of all-time, then Willie Mays is a close second place…by a hair. Aaron just had better consistency in his later years than Mays did. But Mays might have reached the 700-home run club had he not lost his age 23 season to military service.

Mays at 26: .311 avg, 187 HR, 509 RBI, 903 hits, 531 runs

Trout projected:  307 avg, 204 HR, 577 RBI, 1,044 hits, and 688 runs

Conclusion: There’s a good chance Trout can reach Mays’ pinnacle by the end of his career, and maybe surpass that if he can stay consistently good in his late-30’s.

Ted Williams

Image source: Google

Teddy Ballgame was the most proficient hitter of all-time when it came to batting average. Williams was methodical with his swing. Breaking it down to a science on how to position yourself in the batter’s box to how the trajectory of your swing path should look.

Williams at 26: .353 avg, 165 HR, 638 RBI, 925 hits, 683 runs

Trout projected: 307 avg, 204 HR, 577 RBI, 1,044 hits, and 688 runs

Conclusion: Trout certainly won’t get to Williams in terms of batting average but he is certainly on pace to surpass all of Williams’ other stats shown above. But we will always wonder how good Teddy Ballgame would have been had he not lost three years of his career to join the military.

Besides Hank Aaron, Trout will likely surpass the everyone listed above in terms of career stats – barring a career-ending injury. In about 20 years we may still be saying that Hammerin’ Hank was the greatest statical ball player to walk this earth. But to this current generation Trout will always be considered a legend who stands amoung the greats listed above.

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