The case for Trout
While several of the counting numbers add up in favor of Pujols over the first seven years of his career compared to Trout, if you had to choose one player to start a team with, there are a variety of reasons for why you would want to pick Trout.
First, Trout’s accomplishments as a 27-year-old already match up to what Pujols was able to accomplish only by extending his career into his thirties. Trout has three MVP awards, something that took two extra seasons for Pujols to accomplish. Trout has won seven Silver Slugger awards, already one more than Pujols has won over his career.
Beyond the batting numbers and awards, Trout also possesses speed and athleticism that would put him a notch ahead of the former Cardinal. While Pujols was a very good first baseman, Trout roams centerfield, a position that requires greater range and defensive agility. Trout’s arm has helped him record 37 outfield assists, ranking in the top two or three among centerfielders almost every season of his career.
A true five-tool player, the centerfielder from New Jersey is also a great baserunner. He has swiped 165 bases over his career, and led the league in steals with 49 in 2012. Pujols, who is far from known for his foot speed, has never stolen more than six bases in a season.
These added contextual numbers explain why Trout has had three seasons with his WAR value above 10 wins, something Pujols has never accomplished.
Comparing Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in their primes is comparing two future Hall-of-Famers who have reached the apex of their sport at different times. But with Trout already matching most of Pujols’ accomplishments and possessing all of the tools to dominate in every aspect of the game, if you were looking to start a team with one player, it’s hard to argue against Trout.