Last year, Jose Bautista went absolutely bananas to start the season, prompting me to write a post entitled Jose Bautista Facts. Unlike the Matt Wieters Facts meme, all of those facts about Bautista were actually true. It was part information, part reverence.
That format is the only one I can think of that will do justice to what Mike Trout is currently doing. This has gone beyond “wow, he’s having a nice year” territory – now it’s all just getting silly. So, here are a few actual true facts about Mike Trout’s performance this year. A few of them will probably make you laugh.
Mike Trout is now up to +6.0 WAR on the season, becoming just the 11th player in MLB history to put up a +6 WAR season at age 20. The others:
Alex Rodriguez, 1996: +9.8 WAR
Dwight Gooden, 1985: +9.0 WAR
Mel Ott, 1929: +8.9 WAR
Ted Williams, 1939: +7.9 WAR
Al Kaline, 1955: +7.7 WAR
Ty Cobb, 1907: +7.6 WAR
Mickey Mantle, 1952: +7.3 WAR
Sherry Magee, 1905: +6.5 WAR
Frank Robinson, 1964: +6.4 WAR
Vada Pinson, 1959: +6.0 WAR
Six of those 10 are in the Hall of Fame. Rodriguez has had a HOF career. The three non-HOFers posted career WARs of +56 (Pinson), +58 (Gooden), and +74 (Magee).
And, of course, there’s the simple matter of playing time. Trout spent April in Triple-A and we’re still in July, so he’s racked up +6.0 WAR in 77 games. Over a 162 game season, that’s a +12.6 WAR pace.
Trout has done a lot of his damage recently, as he’s racked up +2.5 WAR in July. He’s currently hitting .413/.473/.838 this month, including eight home runs and nine steals in 93 plate appearances. Even just ignoring everything else he’s doing, the HR/SB rates this month would put him on pace for a 60/60 season over a full year.
As good as Trout’s been in July, it’s not just a one month hot streak either. He also led the Majors in WAR in June, coming in at +2.0. He’s the only player in baseball to have two different months where he’s posted +2.0 WAR or more this year.
Trout’s +2.5 WAR in July is the most any player has had in any month since Josh Hamilton in June of 2010, when Hamilton hit .454/.482/.815 in 26 games, good for +2.8 WAR. Or, to put his July in context with other 20-year-olds, Trout’s performance this month was more valuable than Hank Aaron‘s entire age 20 season (+2.1 WAR). If he has a couple of more good games before the month ends, he’ll catch Ken Griffey Jr’s age 20 season (+2.8 WAR). Oh, and don’t forget, there were four days off in the middle of the month for the All-Star Game.
Switching gears and just comparing Trout to other seasons by center fielders throughout history — Trout’s 188 wRC+ has only been equaled by five different players, each of whom you’ve probably heard of. Mickey Mantle (four times), Ty Cobb (seven times), Stan Musial (once), Tris Speaker (once), and Joe Jackson (once).
You probably knew Mike Trout was fast. Did you also know he leads the Majors in stolen bases (31) and stolen base efficiency (91.1%) among players with at least 20 SB attempts? Only three other 20-year-olds in the last 100 years have stolen 30+ bases in their age 20 season — Rickey Henderson in 1979 (33 SB, 11 CS), Elvis Andrus in 2009 (33 SB, 6 CS) and Claudell Washington in 1975 (40 SB, 15 CS). Henderson, by the way, posted a wRC+ of 96 as a 20-year-old.
When I wrote the Bautista post, it was clear that he couldn’t keep that pace up. Trout can’t keep this up either. We know there’s regression coming, and that he’s eventually going to cool off. But, that doesn’t mean we should ignore what Trout has done in the first three months of the 2012 season. He’s simply in the midst of one of the great runs in baseball history, and he’s doing it at an age when he can’t even legally drink.