Let’s be honest, it’s not even a question. Players like Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, and Nolan Arenado have made cases for the best in the league, but Angels outfielder Mike Trout has never let an argument for the distinction of being the best in the league even be considered.
If you don’t agree, here are some facts.
Mike Trout is currently 29-years old and will be turning 30 this August. This is important to keep in mind because his statistics alone would be impressive for someone who is in their mid to late 30’s. Trout has a career .304 batting average and has hit 301 home runs. Add this to being a plus defender and displaying plenty of speed and athleticism, and he exemplifies the concept of a five-tool player.
If he can stay healthy and maintain consistency, reaching baseball immortality and breaking the home run record is not out of the question. Players like Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays all had fewer dingers at Trout’s age and all reached significant home run totals, with Bonds and Ruth holding the record at points in their careers. With the current trend of baseball being a home run-focused sport, this could bode well for Trout.
Mike Trout has only won five American League Player of the Month Awards and four Player of the Week Awards. This isn’t because he doesn’t perform at an elite rate, it is instead because he performs at that rate every week. He’s a reliable player who brings his best to the field every single game, and this is an undervalued trait in today’s game.
While the monthly and weekly awards aren’t always reflective of his production, the Most Valuable Player award is where he shows up. Trout is a three-time MVP winner, but what is perhaps more telling is the years in which he doesn’t take home the trophy. Trout has never finished outside of the top-five in MVP voting. He has four-second place finishes, a fourth-place finish, and a fifth-place finish to go along with his victory.
While this seems like a negative trait, Trouts’ down season is still remarkable. He called his 2020 season a down season, which is reflected in his lowest MVP finish to date. That finish was still fifth, and he hit .281 with 17 home runs in 60 games. He still nearly had a .400 on-base percentage and a near 1.000 slugging percentage, so for most players that is a career season. His worst is still pretty good.
Mike Trout is a perfect ambassador for the game. He is humble, kind, and full of pride, which are all marketable traits that the league hasn’t taken advantage of. He loves his family and his hometown and has also shown loyalty to a franchise that has largely failed him. You would struggle to find someone who does not like the guy, and that is a huge compliment.
Adding to his prestige is that he does have a sense of humor. He has always been candid when featured on the camera, and his love for the Philadelphia Eagles is well documented. He is a genuine person, which is really nice to see.
What is going against him?
There’s not much to discuss here, but postseason success has eluded him. He has only reached the playoffs one time in his career, and none of those games resulted in a win. This stinks, but championships in baseball matter less for individual legacy than any other sport.
A player can only control what they do personally, and one player cannot win a game for a team, so Trout can sleep easy knowing the Angels’ lack of success has nothing to do with him. Ernie Banks never made the playoffs in his career, and he is still legendary. Trout has a team that is eager to improve, and as soon as they do he will find success in October.
We are watching a generational talent play in the prime of his career right now. This is a luxury we may not deserve as fans. We need to cherish the time we have with him in the league and watch him become a legend of the game.