A recent article showed Mike Trout is having one of the best decades ever
Mike Trout is well on his way to being one of MLB’s all-time greats.
Just how good is he? The LA Angels center fielder has been the best player in a decade three times already.
A decade ago Mike Trout wasn’t even playing in the big leagues.
At FanGraphs last week, Craig Edwards wrote about the best decades of all-time. He looked at the topic a little differently than you might initially have thought about it.
Usually we think of a decade as a 10-year period where all the years start with the same number. Say, the decade of the 80s covers every year from 1980 to 1989. It’s a convenient way to break things down. Tidy. We like it.
Talking about the best player in a decade can be a little misleading though. Most players’ careers straddle two decades. Very few align neatly with our idea of a decade.
Maybe the player debuted in 2003 and had his peak years from 2006-2015 before retiring in 2018. That’s a great career and decade of baseball, but it might only be a blip when you think about the best players of the “aughts” or 2010s.
Edwards decided to look at each 10-year period as a decade and see which player led in WAR for that period and how much that totaled.
Under those conditions, Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants had 13 times during his career when he was the best player in a 10-year period. Babe Ruth did it 10 times.
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At age 28, Trout has done it three times, putting him in a tie for 15th place on the list of 10-year WAR leaders. Angels teammate Albert Pujols led four times.
For Trout, what makes it especially remarkable is that he did not even play in 2010. He made his debut in 2011 as a 19-year-old and played in just 40 games.
The Mike Trout we know and love didn’t show up until a 21-year-old in 2012. That year he hit .326/.399/.564 with stellar baserunning and defense that lifted him to a 10.1 WAR season.
(He should have been MVP that year and the next, but that’s another debate.)
He’s been worth 73.4 WAR during his nine-season career, or 72.7 during the eight years he played for the entire season. That eight-year figure works out to 9.1 WAR per year.
Edwards noted, “since World War II only Willie Mays and Barry Bonds have averaged nine wins per season for an entire decade.” He adds that good seasons in 2020 and 2021 could give Trout one of the ten best decades ever, possibly the best decade since Babe Ruth.
Mike Trout’s best decade is yet to come
That’s not going to happen. When COVID-19 forced MLB and the other professional sports both in America and around the world to pause their seasons, it meant baseball stats for 2020 are going to need to come with a disclaimer.
After initial fears otherwise, it does appear there will be an MLB season held this year. It will not look like what we’ve grown to expect.
Right now, officials appear to be centering on an early July start to the season. It seems likely we’ll end up with somewhere between 81-100 games if that occurs. We don’t know where the games will be played and what opponents teams will face appears to be up in the air, too.
That means Trout, who is losing $222,222 for each game not played, is not going to put up a 10-win season. If they get in half a year, maybe it’s a five-win season. Ideally next season looks a lot more like we’ve come to expect and it’ll be back up to 9.
He’d come in at 86.7 for his first — and that cannot be emphasized enough — decade of MLB baseball.
That’s not even one of the top 10 “decades” of all-time. Babe Ruth’s best decade (1919-28) was 109.6, per Edwards. Bonds is number 10 on the list at 92.5.
It would be enough to crack the top three since 1961, however.
We don’t need the extra stats to put Trout into perspective. He’s one of the best to play the game ever. He’s incredible to watch.
But statistically, we’ll never know for sure just where Trout would have been without this interruption to the season.