It’s also interesting to me that Mike Trout could, potentially have more “value” if he weren’t being used in left field, and were instead being used in center field. Not only is there an argument that could be made that he would be racking up more personal value in a position he is more used to playing (as in, the drop-off between his performance in LF and CF is likely very small), but there’s also the issue of positional adjustments.
The positional adjustment between time at LF and CF isn’t insignificant. If one player puts up his kind of hitting numbers at CF instead of LF, that tends to rack up a higher WAR if defensive performance is roughly the same. It’s possible that if he were being utilized differently by the Angels, we’d look back at his numbers a little bit differently.
Comment by Bryan Grosnick — June 21, 2013 @ 12:38 pm
real shame those numbers are being wasted on the biggest underperformers in recent memory
With Bourjos in CF, does that hurt some of Trout’s defensive metrics considering how good Bourjos is? There’s likely balls that Trout could easily get to with his speed/range, but he defers to Bourjos on them.
Comment by sausagemcbiscuit — June 21, 2013 @ 12:53 pm
Trout’s UZR in left field — the games when he’s been playing next to Bourjos — has been quite good. It’s the CF data that is dragging his total number down, and Bourjos wouldn’t have any affect on Trout’s fielding numbers on days when Trout is in CF.
UZR is designed so that if one fielder makes a play, his teammate is not penalized for not making the play. He won’t get credit for a play made either, but it’s not docking him for not making that catch if Bourjos does make it.
I think there’s a key sentence in your second paragraph that isn’t true. “If defensive performance is the same”, then the WAR will be the same, because equal defensive performances in LF/CF don’t result in the same UZR. The only way his WAR would be higher in CF is if his UZR was the same in both spots, but that’s not the same thing as defensive performance. Being a +10 fielder compared to other CFs is a better performance than being a +10 fielder compared to other LFs.
Comment by guy who knows where the beds are — June 21, 2013 @ 1:08 pm
Jeff Sullivan has pointed out that, in general, it’s in our nature to start taking good players for granted after their sheen as prospects wears off. Thanks for articles like this that help me appreciate what Mike Trout is doing.
As an Angels fan of over three decades, Mike Trout is a wish come true; we’ve never had a true franchise player. I remember being jealous of the Mariners in the 90s when they got not only Ken Griffey Jr but then Alex Rodriguez – two true franchise players within a half decade of each other. The Angels had a few close-calls to a homegrown franchise player in Wally Joyner, then Tim Salmon, then Jim Edmonds, Darin Erstad, and Troy Glaus. But all fell short, some by quite a bit. In 1995 Salmon looked like he was breaking through to the superstar level, but then dropped back to merely a star. Edmonds looked excellent, but then was traded and ended up having five superstar years in St. Louis. Erstad also had that teaser in 2000, as did Glaus.
So Mike Trout truly is the messiah for Angels fans. He makes even this crappy year worthwhile – if nothing else, we have Trout to watch. My only worry is that as an East Coast boy, and if the Angels continue to under-perform, he’ll be less likely to sign that 8-10 year contract we’re hoping for. I suppose worst-case scenario is that we’ll get his next four and a half (and possibly greatest) years, then a ridiculous prospect package during the 2017 season if it becomes clear he doesn’t want to stay. But I’m hoping that Dipoto makes him an offer he can’t refuse this offseason, something like 10/$200 million.
One more thing. Watching the game last night I was struck by just how good Trout is – how he’s become a player that can adjust to the situation and get that single when needed, steal a base when needed, leg out a “hussle double” when needed, take a walk, hit his share of home runs, and make huge plays. He does everything in a way that is very, very rare – perhaps even unprecedented, or at least only from the likes of names such as Bonds, Mays, and Mantle – and the Seattle version of Griffey Jr. There is just a feeling of greatness about him, which I also get from Bryce Harper, I got from Griffey and Bonds – but I don’t get from players like Justin Upton or Andrew McCutchen or Matt Kemp – all very talented, but without that extra special quality. It is like they are, rather than humans playing baseball, baseball players being human. They were made for the game and the game for them.
Well, after 16 games Puig has 1.3 WAR so he’s on a pace for 13 WAR …
And Bryce Harper has a 167 wRC+ with a BABIP of .287 *sigh*
Comment by AnthonySoprano — June 21, 2013 @ 1:40 pm
Its just too soon to tell with Puig. I expect he’ll be very good, maybe great, but I’m guessing he’s more Cespedes than Trout.
As for Bryce, my big concern for him is not his talent – which is tremendous, and definitely in the same ballpark as Trout – but his health. Knee bursitis at 20-years old does not bode well. Bryce Harper could be the 21st century Hank Aaron, but he also could be the 21st century Darryl Strawberry (hopefully without the extracurricular activities, but in terms of “aborted greatness”).
“It was a great series and we all felt that,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I don’t know if ‘enjoy’ is the right word, but in all honesty, even in defeat, I’m starting to enjoy what our group accomplished already, when you look back. And you need to do that, to put in perspective. So it’s no fun to lose, but we lost to a better team. And you can live with that as long as you’ve given your best, and I think we have.”
And of course, there’s silver and bronze medals, which most athletes keep. Gabe Paul’s sentiments are popular, especially in America, but I side with Popovich’s attitude.
Supposedly Trout made adjustments at the plate around May 1st, working on not striking out. The positive results showed up in his performance almost immediately. Trout’s best tool might be his head. If he can make adjustments, at will, he might stay at the top of this game for some time to come.
10/$200MM would include arbitration years. Something like this:
2014 (pre-arb): $3MM
2015 (arb 1): $12MM
2016 (arb 2): $15MM
2017 (arb 3): $20MM
2018-2023 (free agency): avg $25 million per year
That’s $200MM over ten years, or Trout’s age 22-31 seasons.
This sort of contract potentially benefits both the player and team:
player – guarantees a lot of money at a very young age and protects against possible future injury and/or decline; brings some of the likely higher later salary into arbitration years, spreading it out more evenly
team – keeps player under club control into early 30s (Trout would turn 32 at the end of year 10); avoids having to go to free agency and having to spend more and for longer into decline phase
There’s some risk to both parties, especially the team, but overall I think it benefits both. I mean, if they’re willing to pay $250MM for age 32-41 of “Albertross” and $125MM for age 32-36 of “Hamildone” then I don’t see why they wouldn’t be willing to spend $200MM for age 22-31 of “Troutstanding.”
That’s just it – he seems to innately know baseball – which is why I’m not as worried as Dave that declining speed will change him from great to merely very good. I think he’ll find ways to remain great, if in slightly different ways.
I always thought that anybody who averaged over 5 WAR a season was “great”. Trout could regress quite a bit and still be great in my book. I guess everybody has their own standard, but the fact that Dave didn’t think he was going to be a 10 win player does not mean he’s demoting him to “very good”.
Trout’s reads and routes don’t look nearly as smooth in left as they do in center. He seems to have a poor understanding at the current moment of how balls curve differently coming at a leftfielder. I also think he bulked up too much in the offseason, his speed is definitely down from last year. He should have a couple of more caught stealings that the umps gave him the benefit of the doubt on. I have no complaints about his bat, it’s as good as ever.
Comment by Phantom Stranger — June 21, 2013 @ 3:54 pm
Just look at it in a roughly similar way to Barry Sanders playing for the Lions. You can appreciate it from that perspective.
As far as I understand it the scale is something like:
1-2: marginal regular
2-4: quality regular
4-5: borderline star/impact player
5-7: true star ("all-star")
7+: superstar, MVP candidate
10+: "megastar," all-time great season
So I'd say a player goes from "very good" to "great" somewhere in that 5-7 range. I suppose we could call 5-7 "excellent" and I think Dave WAS saying that Trout would fall from being "ridiculous" to merely "excellent." Nothing to be ashamed of about that, but I think what he underestimated – so far, at least – is Trout's uncanny baseball acumen, his ability to adjust as needed. But as far as I can tell its not in the nerdy Tony Gwynn way – watching hours of tape, working intentionally with micro-adjustments. I think Trout just does it naturally.
I think Trout just ran out of gas last year near the end. Those first few months were pretty fun to watch, especially as I got to see him twice when he came to Detroit, made some absurd leaping catch, and then the next inning smacked the bricks in right-center at Comerica.
I don’t see him winning battles titles or slugging stuff, but I also don’t see him in the future with any real holes in his game. He will be the perfect well rounded athlete who has value just because he does everything the way it is supposed to be done.
Given how few players hit free agency that young, while they can still be expected to improve, he should be asking for at least A-Rod money on any long-term deal. That is an AAV of $28 million per year, and that includes the discount for pre-arbitration and arbitration seasons.
If I were Trout’s agent, I would push for something more like the Prince Fielder plan. Sign away your arbitration seasons for about what you can reasonably expect for those seasons, and keep all your free agent years. That would mean a contract for something like the 4 years and $50 million you propose at the start of that deal.
I’ve pondered what it would have meant to grow up a Lions fan. On one hand, Barry Sanders, in my opinion the most exciting player to ever play is on “your” team. On the other hand, your team is the Lions.
I agree to an extent, but the fact is this happens much earlier than when they get to the MLB. It happens when they go to school and when they’re assigned to a little league club. In that way the use of age in this way does reflect their baseball experience, if not their actual age.
Empirical knowledge is gained by studying something until you’ve gathered so much knowledge on it that you can form a conclusion. Innate knowledge comes from repeating an action so often that you can perform it without thinking. Whether a player innately knows how to hit or approaches it empirically is really just a different mindset on the part of the player. The end is achieved the same way, through repetition and hard work.
He didn’t really overly bulk up. He added maybe a couple pounds, just for the grind of the long season. Last year he started like ~20 pounds under his normal weight due to valley fever. This year he wanted to be more cautious.
Innate ideas? No. Innate knowledge? I disagree. People are born with innate talent; you won’t convince me that the difference between Trout and Urkel is simply conditioning, circumstance and essentially “nurture.” Trout’s nature, in my view, is INNATELY more connected to baseball acumen than Steve Urkel’s.
Wil Myers – FG is the only site on the face of the earth that has William…
Comment by Frank from NJ — June 22, 2013 @ 8:20 am
You guys are missing the point of a big contract signed now. You can’t judge the numbers by what makes sense when Trout hits free agency. That $25MM only seems low if A) Trout continues playing as is, and B) if he didn’t sign a long-term contract until before 2018, when he would get $30MM+. Teams lock up their young players with club-friendly contracts, and players accept them because it is guaranteed money. This sort of contract would be appealing to Trout and his family because it protects against injury and any other eventualities.
In other words, you look at Tulo and Braun for precedents for this sort of contract, not A-Rod and Pujols. 10/$200MM was a bit of an on-the-fly estimate but I think its about right. I suppose Trout might want to keep it to 8 years so he goes to free agency at age 30 and can still sign a second mega-contract.
It already doesn’t in very many parts of NYC (and not just Manhattan) and some other cities.
In some parts of Brooklyn — almost suburbs to Manhattan — which may still be undergoing gentrification, even a fairly rundown, fixer-upper can easily exceed that and even reach the $2M mark in some instances…
At least he is not comparing him to Cabrera!! Cabrera the modern day Babe Ruth Or Hank Aaron!! Trout, Machado and Harper are all great talents. Trouts dwar -1.2 shows that his 4 great catches last year might not be repeatable. He is also going to strike out 150 times this year … his current pace 120 … 3 weeks ago 150 pace. He is a good player … but to early to compare to the GREATS!
What Angelsjunky said. You can’t realistically predict super world class performance in perpetuity and base values on that. When you’re up at the 99th percentile you’re more likely to move back the curve than up it.
But at the same time, as Dave said, maybe we overestimated the amount of regression coming.
Or in other worlds, Mikey may be just plain amazing, rather than superduperstupendouslyamazing.
or Dustin Pedroia, Jimmy Rollins, Barry Larkin, Terry Pendleton, Rickey Henderson, Kirk Gibson (yeah, he was an RBI guy, but he didn’t get his RBIs this year, finishing outside the top ten, with 76! Actually, Gibson never crossed the 100 RBI line), Willie McGee, Pete Rose, Zoilo Versalles, Elston Howard, Dick Groat, Nellie Fox, Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Cochrane, Frankie Frisch, Roger Peckinpaugh, and especially Maury Wills.
Sure, the MVP is mostly dominated by RBI guys. But Ichiro is not such an anomaly as that.
Trout’s getting far more doubles and triples than he did last season, and he’s getting more infield hits, too. His speed hasn’t gone anywhere.
Comment by Feeding the Abscess — June 23, 2013 @ 3:49 pm
That’s a good question and, I think, one of the things that tends to make WAR, at least the defensive component, look bad. WAR for pitchers can vary widely as well. For instance, compare Cliff Lee’s WAR from the two sites for 2008 – 2013:
Well … Hank Aaron was one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. He played 23 years hitting 733 hrs and 2202 rbi. Career batting line ba .305 obp .375 slg .555 ops .928.
Cabrera is in his 11th year. Current batting line
ba .368 obp .460 slg .642 ops 1.102.
Career batting line ba .321 obp .398 slg .565 ops .963
with 341 hrs and 1197 rbi.
He has won 2 batting tiles, the triple crown and has played in 3 world series. ENOUGH SAID!!!
WAR has to be taken with a grain of salt. All of these metrics and you end up with Andy Dirks as the best LF in the AL and Trout as average. I only trust the batting part.
Comment by Prince_Miggy_Mart — August 3, 2013 @ 11:41 am
Well, at 9.2 WAR with 4 weeks of games yet to be played, I think we can close the book on this. That is, unless we’re force fed that grain of salt. Then again, if we look only at hitting, his current 180 WRC+ ain’t bad either.
Comment by rustydude — September 2, 2013 @ 12:08 pm
Just noticed, 9.2 on 9/2. Is Mike Trout trolling the sabremetric crowd with his on field performance? Not the first time I’ve thought that considering he stuck the landing at a perfect 10.0 last season. And no, I’m not serious.
Comment by rustydude — September 2, 2013 @ 12:10 pm
Sabremetrics, what a great way for a bunch of nerds to circle jerk. I hope that all of you know multiple languages and play at least one musical instrument very well, then your waste of time finger blasting each other over this ridiculous over analysis won’t be so pathetic.
Comment by baseballFan — February 24, 2014 @ 11:06 am