Image courtesy of Google images.
Mike Trout is the best player in the game today. I’ve been thinking about the following however: what is his current place in history? How does he compare to some of the all-time greats? What is going to be his legacy? With this in mind, I decided to compare him to some greats through his current age and last season (due to hot and cold streaks it’s not fair to compare two players until a particular day in a season, and I want to use full seasons). I will also look at the bigger picture and make an analysis based on everything.
rWAR THROUGH AGE 25
Mike Trout 54.2
Mickey Mantle 52.9
Ted Williams 34.2*
Willie Mays 32.6
Babe Ruth 31.1
Trout’s WAR through last season has been better than that of the best players in history going at the same pace. That is remarkable to say the least. Would you like to see the same list for home runs?
HOME RUNS THROUGH AGE 26
Mickey Mantle 207
Mike Trout 201
Willie Mays 152
Ted Williams 127*
Babe Ruth 103
As shocking as it might sound, if Trout continues playing at his current pace and doesn’t succumb to injuries, he’s not only on a direct ride to Cooperstown, but also well on the way to being in the conversation for being the best player of all time. It sounds great, but how many people truly see Trout in that light? I don’t think that many people would seriously entertain the notion that Trout is better than any of the legends that I listed.
So why isn’t the general perception of Trout on the same level as for example LeBron James’s in basketball? LeBron is regularly compared to Michael Jordan as being potentially the greatest basketball player of all time. Where is the same acclaim for Trout? One thing that comes to mind is the fact that he’s playing for the Los Angeles Angels. The Los Angeles market is completely dominated by the Dodgers, and since the Angels haven’t won a playoff game with Trout, it’s definitely a problem in his perception. It’s not Trout’s fault, but championships change fans’ perceptions very quickly. There’s also the fact that Trout hasn’t challenged any records. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Barry Bonds benefited a great deal from chasing and setting home run records among others.
I think that Trout made a big mistake when he signed an extension back in 2014, he cost himself hundreds of millions of dollars and a chance at a championship. Can you imagine how much he would’ve received had he not signed the extension and hit free agency after last season? The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs would’ve likely been among the interested teams, and signing with either one would’ve put him in an ideal situation to win the World Series and be part of a dynasty. He would’ve also received more fame. Trout’s personality is a factor too, he doesn’t really do commercials or talk shows and seems to mostly be out of the spotlight.
Trout needs to leave the Los Angeles Angels, sign with a more popular team, become a more public figure through endorsements due to being on such a team, win championships and set records. That’s what he needs to do to change his current perception. Is that a lot to ask of him? Sure, but he’s a rare once in a lifetime player who can do it. His perception otherwise is that of the best player in the game, but one who isn’t really seen as anything above that. Trout deserves a lot better, and it starts with him leaving the Angels as soon as possible. The Angels have been unable to build a contending team around him since his debut, and it doesn’t look like they will be one later this season or in the next 2 years. They also have no chance at unseating the Dodgers as LA’s team. Trout has a rare chance to be in theconversation for the greatest ever, he should take it.
*Williams missed 2 seasons that he would’ve been eligible for due to serving in the army.