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In some incredibly disappointing and even mildly, relatively depressing news, Major League Baseball will again be without Mike Trout for a good number of weeks. This time around, he tore meniscus in his knee. The optimistic scenario -- and I'm choosing to go with that -- means he'll be back in about two months. 

That's still two months without Trout. He hits the injured list while leading the majors in home runs and having already posted 1.2 WAR. Unfortunately, he's only logged 29 games and that number will be fixed for a while. Though he played in at least 157 games in each of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, he's failed to top 140 since. It was 114 in 2017, 140 in 2019, 134 in 2019 and 53 of the 60 in 2020. Those figures wouldn't have really been that huge a deal, but it's what has happened since the pandemic-shortened season that is concerning. 

  • 2021: 36 games
  • 2022: 119 games
  • 2023: 82 games
  • 2024: 29 games so far

The Angels have 66 games after the All-Star break (starting July 19). Let's say Trout plays all of those. That's still just 95 games this season. 

This is far down the list of priorities for Trout right now, I'm sure, but being a student of the Hall of Fame, my mind wanders to his legacy. The injuries are holding him back from a truly inner-circle, all-time great line. 

The rate stats for Trout still resemble an all-time great center fielder. He's hitting .299/.410/.581 in his career, good for a 173 OPS+. That's a similar slash line to Mickey Mantle (.298/.421/.557, 172 OPS+). It's the counting, or cumulative, stats where he's going to end up lacking. 

As you'll see when we walk through this, Trout has a chance to end up alongside Mantle. He does not, however, have a chance to get up into the Willie Mays tier. 


We know WAR loves Trout. He's already fifth all-time among center fielders behind Mays, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Mantle. But Trout sits at 86.3 WAR while the first four are all over 110 and Mays racked up 156.2. With an MVP-level full season typically sitting in the 8-9 range on WAR, it's difficult to see Trout even getting to Speaker in third place (135.2) while Mays and Cobb (151.4) are uncatchable. 

In fact, given that Trout has posted 13.9 WAR since the start of 2020, it's reasonable to believe he won't catch Mantle's 110.2. After all, he turns 33 this August and all these injuries have to be taking a toll on his body. 

So while we can say Trout is already fifth in WAR at the position, he very well might stay put right there. It isn't an insult. He's ahead of Ken Griffey Jr. and Joe DiMaggio. It's just that we rightfully had higher hopes for Trout for years. 

The traditional counting stats are obviously suffering as well. 


The benchmark of 3,000 hits is not a requirement for inner-circle greatness. Mantle had 2,415. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Barry Bonds all fell short of 3,000 hits. 

Still, many people love to see all-time greats get there. Mays had 3,293. Trout has 1,648 hits right now. Barring catastrophe, he's a sure bet to top 2,000 and could approach 2,500 -- depending on how he ages and hopefully avoids injury moving forward -- but 3,000 is out the window absent some kind of remarkable turn. 

For example, he's signed through 2030. Let's give him 52 hits the rest of this season to get him to 1,700 so the math is easy. He'd need 1,300 hits through 2030, then, or an average of ... 216.67 per season the rest of his contract. His career high in a season is 190. He hasn't topped 150 since 2016. 

Home runs

Trout is up to 378 career homers and was a great bet to reach 400 this season. He still might, though he'll have to be pretty hot with the power upon his return. Whenever he does reach 400 homers, he'll become the eighth center fielder to get there after Mays, Griffey, Mantle, Andre Dawson, Carlos Beltrán, Andruw Jones and Duke Snider. It'll be a nice feather in his cap. 

But, again, we were talking about Trout being one of the greatest ever. 

He can't get to Mays at 660 or even Griffey at 630 now. How about Mantle at 536? Let's say Trout gets hot enough to reach 400 by the end of his year. It's not outrageous. He hit 40 homers in 119 games in 2022. Trout would then have to average 22.67 homers per season the rest of his contract to tie Mantle. 

This one is doable. 

But we're still, in all likelihood, missing out on a run toward Griffey and certainly won't see a run at Mays. 

Runs and RBI

Getting to both 1,500 runs and 1,500 RBI is a reasonable benchmark for a Hall of Fame run producer. Among center fielders, only Cobb, Mays, Speaker, Mantle, Griffey and Beltrán got there. 

Mantle had 1,676 runs and 1,509 RBI. Mays had 2,068 runs and 1,909 RBI. 

Trout right now is at 1,123 runs and 954 RBI. He's in decent shape on the runs, but the RBI could be a problem. Let's say he drives home 25 the rest of the way. He'd then need to average 86.83 RBI per year the rest of his deal to get to 1,500. He hasn't had more than 80 RBI since 2019. Hell, when he homered 40 times in 2022, he still only drove home 80. No matter how good Trout is, his teammates have to get on base in front of him to rack up RBI.


Finally, it's a good bet at this point that Trout won't win another MVP. That leaves Bonds' record of seven in the stratosphere. Trout remains tied for second with Albert Pujols, A-Rod, Mike Schmidt, Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Stan Musial, DiMaggio and Jimmie Foxx. 

It would've been nice to see Trout grab a fourth, no? That would've been a way to separate himself a bit. 

Mike Trout is still an all-time great, but climbing further into the inner circle just isn't happening. Injuries are preventing it. As an individual player, he has a shot to climb into the Mantle range -- though it'll still be tough -- but the Mays range is now out on the horizon and that's where it'll stay.