Starting off with ZiPS, Mike Trout is projected to have one of the more unique seasons of his career in terms of raw production.
ZiPS has Mike Trout putting up MVP numbers in 2022, but in severely limited play time.
- ZiPS: 452 PA, .274/.418/.581, 165 wRC+, 29 HR, 19 2B, 78 RBI, 82 BB, 107 K, 5.5 zWAR
- Career 162 Game AVG: 712 PA, .305/.419/.583, 172 wRC+, 39 HR, 34 2B, 103 RBI, 109 BB, 153 K, 9.8 fWAR
While they may not be quite in line with his usual levels of greatness, these are some hefty numbers for Mike Trout to be putting up after missing most of 2021.
Remember, the whole point of these projections is to give a conservative, baseline estimate of how a player will perform, so for the best hitter in baseball you can expect to see him overperform these numbers across the board.
Case in point, there are only four players in baseball with at least 6 zWAR in ZiPS. Meanwhile, the 2021 season saw 10 players clear 6 fWAR including two with at least 7. 2019 was even greater as it featured 19 players with at least 6 fWAR, eight of whom topped 7 fWAR including two (including Trout) who cleared the 8 fWAR mark.
So worry not, Trout only having 5.5 zWAR (tied for sixth best in the league) in these projections is still MVP level play.
Even with this in mind, the main thing that stands out here is the massive gap in Trout’s counting stats between ZiPS and his career averages.
Due to ZiPS more heavily weighing a player’s performance over the last three seasons, Trout’s total PAs here are 260 fewer than normal.
At this point in his career, health concerns will always be a huge worry for Trout, so it’s not wrong to be at least a little pessimistic at his ability to contribute a full season, especially when he will likely receive regular off days towards the start and end of the season so as to not overwork him.
Still, the 452 PA figure is well below the 507 mark he posted in 2017 when he only appeared in 114 games (and finished fourth in AL MVP voting). This doesn’t bode particularly well for his hopes of playing even two thirds of the 2022 season.
Trout’s batting average is also substantially lower than his career mark, which makes sense for anyone coming back after missing a whole year. Thankfully, his OBP and SLG are still right in line with his usual marks so it's not really a huge loss.
With all of this in mind, comparing Trout’s numbers to the rest of the LA Angels, he actually still finishes top of the team in zWAR, wRC+, OBP, SLG, and walks, as well as second in home runs and third in RBIs and AVG.
As a result, while Trout is projected to finish with some of the lowest totals of his career in many stats, he is still going to be the best hitter on the team and, at least according to zWAR, one of the best players in all of baseball. Turns out below average Mike Trout is still better than 99.9% of the league.