Mike Trout just passed Derek Jeter in career WAR, and the numbers show the Angels superstar is only getting better
Trout is finding his power stroke during his age-27 season
In a week when Mike Trout passed Derek Jeter in career Wins Above Replacement, it's worth looking again at how incredible Trout has been in his career, at 28 years old in just his ninth MLB season. Trout is almost universally hailed as the best player in baseball, and it's been that way for years.
But can a player who finished in the top two in MVP voting in each of his first five full seasons be getting even better? It sure looks that way.
Let's start with the basics -- he's already set a career high in home runs in a season, which he did when he hit his 42nd of the season on Tuesday. And he's coming off a month in which he slammed 13 home runs, a career high for homers in a calendar month.
His slugging percentage (.660) and OPS (1.100) would also be career highs, and he's on pace to set personal bests in runs (130), RBI (123), walks (126) and total bases (359).
If he actually reaches those numbers, he'd be the eighth player in MLB history with 120 runs, RBI and walks in the same season, joining Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. And he'd be the 10th player ever with 350 total bases and 120 walks (Bonds was the last to do it, when he hit 73 home runs in 2001).
Back to WAR -- he leads the majors with 8.3 Wins Above Replacement, making him the 15th position player in MLB history with at least six, eight-win seasons. He's likely to become the seventh position player ever with six, nine-win seasons, and he's on pace to become just the fourth to put up four 10-win seasons (joining Ruth, Willie Mays and Rogers Hornsby).
But it's the home run power that is setting him apart this year. He homered in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday, giving him 20 home runs in a 38-game span, the fewest games he's ever needed to hit 20 homers. And when he stole his 10th base of the season last week, it made him the first player in AL history with eight straight seasons of 25 homers and 10 steals.
Trout is tied for the major-league lead in home runs, a stat he's never led the league in. It might be the only relevant offensive stat he has not led the league in yet (along with hits):
2012 -- led the league in runs, SB and OPS+
2013 -- led in runs and BB
2014 -- led in runs, RBI and total bases
2015 -- led in slugging, OPS and OPS+
2016 -- led in runs, BB, OBP and OPS+
2017 -- led in OBP, slugging, OPS and OPS+
2018 -- led in BB, OBP, OPS and OPS+
2019 -- leading in HR, BB, OBP, slugging, OPS and OPS+
Maybe it's not surprising that he's finding his power stroke as he nears the true prime of his career. Not to mention that he has walked more than anyone this season, but also has the most barreled balls, a metric measured by Statcast. But could there be more even more power in his future?
We looked at the four hitters who are widely considered the four best hitters of all-time -- Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Barry Bonds and Lou Gehrig (they are conveniently the top four in MLB history in OPS+). All four of those players had their career high in homers in their 30s -- Trout's age-30 season is still three years away!
And four of the top five players on the all-time home run list (Bonds, Hank Aaron, Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Mays) set their career high in home runs in their 30s (A-Rod is the exception, setting his at 26).
Trout is one of 169 players to get at least 4,000 plate appearances through his age-27 season, and he could join Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only ones on that list to post an OPS of 1.000.
And just for fun, to take it back to the top, Trout has already passed 38(!) Hall of Famers in WAR this season, including Willie McCovey, Duke Snider, Don Drysdale, Ernie Banks, Ivan Rodriguez, John Smoltz and Tony Gwynn. And at his current pace he would pass seven more, including Frank Thomas and Reggie Jackson.
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