Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is the best player in baseball, but will he ever be considered with Michael Jordan?
During Sunday night’s final episode of The Last Dance on ESPN, Major League Baseball tweeted out a quote from Albert Pujols that implied that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim teammate Mike Trout is special in a similar way to Michael Jordan.
"“It’s like watching Mike Trout now. Every night he does something special. That’s how Jordan was,” said Pujols."
It seems fairly innocuous to describe how special the best player in baseball is in comparison to Jordan, the subject of countless debates as to the greatest of all-time in the NBA. Pujols obviously didn’t intend to instigate a debate on the matter, but it should nonetheless inspire some interesting conversation. It should also be taken with a grain of salt.
Don’t get me wrong. Mike Trout is excellent and his first nine years in the league have been nearly unprecedented. In fact, Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, which measures a player’s Hall of Fame likelihood by measuring both their career WAR to their WAR7 (wins above replacement – 7-year peak), places Trout 5th all-time among center fielders, trailing only the likes of Willie Mays, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, and Mickey Mantle. If configured for just his WAR7, Trout would rank 3rd behind only Mays and Cobb. That’s elite company to be sure and certainly worthy to be in the conversation of whether or not Trout will be the greatest of all-time when he hangs up his cleats and should he continue this pace.
But is it Jordan-esque?
While Trout’s performance to date certainly inserts his name into an argument when discussing the greatest baseball players of all-time, this is a discussion that will always be apples and oranges. Both are obviously pillars of their generations in terms of what they brought to the field or court, and no one could deny the merits if you are basing it on those standards alone.
However, invoking the name of Jordan takes this conversation beyond simple athletics, but also into the realm of marketing and leadership. Trout collects a fair penny in endorsements (somewhere around $2.5 million per year according to Forbes), but that pales in comparison to what Jordan earned outside of the game.
There is also an inherent difference between how MLB markets its superstars and how the NBA does. There is a large sect of the population that, outside of the realm of baseball fans, may not have ever heard of Mike Trout. Can you same about Jordan, whose face was plastered everywhere during the 80s and 90s?
Again, this is no slight to Mike Trout, as I am as much of a homer fan as any. However, there are very few people that can be considered in a comparison with Michael Jordan. As much as we’d all love it, that just isn’t fair to Mike Trout. We can appreciate Trout for the player he is and not try to get too far ahead of ourselves in the process.
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What do you all think? Should Mike Trout be considered as the Michael Jordan of baseball or does he belong in an entirely different conversation?