A little over a year ago, the Los Angeles Angels called up Mike Trout and a new baseball star was born. We all know the story. The Angels were off to a terrible 6 and 14 start. They called up Trout and proceeded to go 83-58 the rest of the 2012 season. Trout won Rookie of the Year, put up a 10+ WAR season and came in second in the MVP voting.
How could Trout match such tremendous year? While many may have expected Trout’s 2013 to be good, it’s almost unfair to expect a repeat performance. And while Trout is not on pace for a 10+ WAR season, his sophomore season has been another stellar display of his talents. Unfortunately, with the Los Angeles Angels nine games under .500, it may not be as apparent. And that’s too bad because it’s one of the few shining aspects of an otherwise dismal baseball season for the Angels.
Here’s Trout’s most recent May performance compared to his May performance in 2012.
2013: .327.409/ .664
In June, he’s continuing his torrid May, posting a .371/.395/.543 in 8 games so far this month. If Trout continues to offensively produce at this same rate, he’s on pace to hit 25 home runs, knock in 102 RBI and swipe 36 stolen bases. Not bad for a 21-year old.
Not bad? Let me try and better emphasize that. Let’s try nearly unprecedented in the modern history of baseball. Right now, if we use Fangraphs WAR calculation thus far for 2013, Trout is on pace to post 8.4 WAR this season. Which would mean that in by the age of 21, Trout will have already posted a career WAR over 18.
Guess how many players in the history of baseball have done that? Zero.
If we expand the criteria to age 22 (and use Baseball Reference’s nifty Play Index feature), the list includes 14 players who by the age of 22 posted a career WAR over 18. The most recent names include Alex Rodriguez who posted 22.8 WAR by the age of 22 an Ken Griffey Jr. who posted 21.3 WAR. The others on the list include Ty Cobb (25.5) at the top, Ted Williams (23.6), Mel Ott (23.6), Al Kaline (21.0), Jimmie Foxx (20.9), and Mickey Mantle (20.0).
If we look at 2013 alone, Trout remains in some Hall of Fame company. Only four players in the modern-era of Major League baseball have posted a WAR above 8 during their age 21 season. Only two of them have come in the past 50 years. The last to do it was Rickey Henderson in 1980 who, according to Baseball-Reference, posted 8.7 WAR with a 100 stolen base season.
So while Trout’s 2013 season may not be as good as his age-20 campaign, it’s still historical and nearly unprecedented. If Angels fans are struggling to find reasons to continue and watch this disappointing 2013 season, they should think of one player: Mike Trout. That should be all the motivation they need.