Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mike Trout - The Greatest of Millennials

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2016/10/why_doesn_t_anyone_care_about_mike_trout.html
"Mickey Mantle is alive. He’s right out there in centerfield, every day, running down balls in the alleys, taking over games with his offense, defense, and speed. And this is prime Mantle, too—not later-years, shot-kneed, wee-hours-at-the-Copacabana Mantle. He debuted at 19, just turned 25, and he’s been the best player in baseball every year since he—"
Great article from Mike Schur on Slate on the underappreciated greatness of Mike Trout.

I liked the comparison between Trout and Mantle. Mantle played in New York, partied, and was seldom healthy and sober (although the author overstated his case a little - Mantle had nine seasons of at least 620 PA). Trout plays in southern California, plays every day and with a smile on his face, doesn't do or say anything newsworthy off the field, and his biggest passion besides baseball is...weather.

Schur makes this compelling argument:
"Here is what you should know: Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. There’s an argument to be made that he’s had the greatest season ever, for a player his age, in every year he has played."
I've already established (if you agree that WAR is at least in the ballpark at correctly estimating player value) that Mike Trout is the greatest player ever through the age of 24. But that doesn't mean he was the best ever at his age for each individual season. Or was he?

Age 20:

Rk Player WAR/pos Year HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
1 Mike Trout 10.8 2012 30 83 49 .326 .399 .564
2 Alex Rodriguez 9.4 1996 36 123 15 .358 .414 .631
3 Al Kaline 8.2 1955 27 102 6 .340 .421 .546
4 Mel Ott 7.4 1929 42 151 6 .328 .449 .635
5 Ty Cobb 6.8 1907 5 119 53 .350 .380 .468
6 Manny Machado 6.7 2013 14 71 6 .283 .314 .432
7 Ted Williams 6.7 1939 31 145 2 .327 .436 .609
8 Vada Pinson 6.5 1959 20 84 21 .316 .371 .509
9 Frank Robinson 6.5 1956 38 83 8 .290 .379 .558
10 Mickey Mantle 6.5 1952 23 87 4 .311 .394 .530
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/9/2016.

Mike Trout DID have the greatest season ever for a 20-year-old, besting A-Rod's '96 season by a fairly wide margin.

Age 21:

Rk Player WAR/pos Year HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
1 Rogers Hornsby 9.9 1917 8 66 17 .327 .385 .484
2 Mike Trout 9.3 2013 27 97 33 .323 .432 .557
3 Rickey Henderson 8.8 1980 9 53 100 .303 .420 .399
4 Eddie Mathews 8.3 1953 47 135 1 .302 .406 .627
5 Cesar Cedeno 8.0 1972 22 82 55 .320 .385 .537
6 Jimmie Foxx 7.9 1929 33 118 9 .354 .463 .625
7 Andruw Jones 7.4 1998 31 90 27 .271 .321 .515
8 Ken Griffey 7.1 1991 22 100 18 .327 .399 .527
9 Arky Vaughan 7.0 1933 9 97 3 .314 .388 .478
10 Frank Robinson 6.9 1957 29 75 10 .322 .376 .529
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/9/2016.

Trout is 2nd to Hornsby. But already, Trout and Frank Robinson are the only players in the top 10 of both lists - greatest 20-year-olds AND greatest 21-year-olds. Trout is 1st and 2nd; Robinson is 9th and 10th.

Age 22:

Rk Player WAR/pos Year HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
1 Ted Williams 10.6 1941 37 120 2 .406 .553 .735
2 Bryce Harper 9.9 2015 42 99 6 .330 .460 .649
3 Ty Cobb 9.8 1909 9 107 76 .377 .431 .517
4 Eddie Collins 9.7 1909 3 56 63 .347 .416 .450
5 Stan Musial 9.4 1943 13 81 9 .357 .425 .562
6 Dick Allen 8.8 1964 29 91 3 .318 .382 .557
7 Alex Rodriguez 8.5 1998 42 124 46 .310 .360 .560
8 Cal Ripken 8.2 1983 27 102 0 .318 .371 .517
9 Joe DiMaggio 8.2 1937 46 167 3 .346 .412 .673
10 Mike Trout 7.9 2014 36 111 16 .287 .377 .561
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/9/2016.

This was probably Trout's worst season, and also the only year so far he's taken home MVP honors. Harper's 2015 season is ahead of a Ty Cobb Triple Crown and A-Rod's 40-40, and second only to the year Teddy Ballgame hit .406.

Age 23:

Rk Player WAR/pos Year HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
1 Willie Mays 10.6 1954 41 110 8 .345 .411 .667
2 Ted Williams 10.6 1942 36 137 3 .356 .499 .648
3 Ty Cobb 10.5 1910 8 91 65 .383 .456 .551
4 Eddie Collins 10.5 1910 3 81 81 .324 .382 .418
5 Cal Ripken 10.0 1984 27 86 2 .304 .374 .510
6 Mookie Betts 9.6 2016 31 113 26 .318 .363 .534
7 Mickey Mantle 9.5 1955 37 99 8 .306 .431 .611
8 Mike Trout 9.4 2015 41 90 11 .299 .402 .590
9 Reggie Jackson 9.2 1969 47 118 13 .275 .410 .608
10 Arky Vaughan 9.2 1935 19 99 4 .385 .491 .607
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/9/2016.

23-year-old Mookie Betts (the 2016 AL MVP-favorite) is slightly ahead of 23-year-old Mike Trout (but NOT ahead of 2016 Mike Trout).

Age 24:

Rk Player WAR/pos Year HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
1 Lou Gehrig 11.8 1927 47 173 10 .373 .474 .765
2 Mickey Mantle 11.2 1956 52 130 10 .353 .464 .705
3 Ty Cobb 10.7 1911 8 127 83 .420 .467 .621
4 Mike Trout 10.6 2016 29 100 30 .315 .441 .550
5 Jimmie Foxx 10.5 1932 58 169 3 .364 .469 .749
6 Alex Rodriguez 10.4 2000 41 132 15 .316 .420 .606
7 Tris Speaker 10.1 1912 10 90 52 .383 .464 .567
8 Mike Schmidt 9.7 1974 36 116 23 .282 .395 .546
9 Rogers Hornsby 9.6 1920 9 94 12 .370 .431 .559
10 Shoeless Joe Jackson 9.6 1912 3 90 35 .395 .458 .579
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/9/2016.

Trout is 4th, behind the career years of Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Ty Cobb.

So there you have it. Trout didn't literally have "the greatest season ever, for a player his age, in every year he has played." But he was the best at age 20, the second-best at age 21 (to a player in the Dead-ball Era), in the top five at age 24, and in the top 10 at ages 22 and 23.

Ty Cobb, who Trout surpassed as the "greatest young player of all time," finished in the top five in four of the years, but missed the top 10 entirely at age 21 and doesn't rank higher than third at any age.

Mantle was only in the top 10 at three of the ages - 20, 23 and 24. Mantle didn't really become "great" until he was 23, and then he was the best player in the American League for about ten years.

Mike Trout has been the best player in baseball since he was a 20-year-old rookie.

2 comments:

  1. Good and fair analysis. I love the Mick, and I went to see Mike Trout at Yankee Stadium on June 8th of this year 2016. He put on a good show 3 for 5 including a home into the center-field bleachers in the 9th inning. He has one heckuva start to his career and I wish him well....

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading. I've only seen him live once, on April 4th, 2013 in Cincinnati. He went 2-for-4 with a double.

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