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Top center fielders: There's Mike Trout, then the rest

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What Mike Trout has accomplished in the first years of his career is unprecedented, and there are lots of different ways to quantify that. In his first five full seasons, he became the first player to win two MVP awards and finish second three times, and that’s never happened before. He has appeared on every MVP ballot cast for AL players since the start of the 2012 season.

He will almost certainly collect career hit No. 1,000 in the season ahead -- he needs 83 to reach that benchmark -- and will probably bash his 200th homer, draw his 500th walk and hit his 200th double. Remember, Trout doesn’t turn 26 until August.

Another way to illustrate his preeminence is through his positional dominance. Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information sent along a list of the best players at each position over the past three years by wins above replacement. Paul Goldschmidt is the No. 1 player at first base in that time with a margin of 2.0 WAR over Anthony Rizzo. Brandon Crawford has been the best at shortstop with 13.4 WAR -- a margin of 1.8 over Andrelton Simmons.

The biggest gap between the No. 1 and No. 2 players in WAR -- and you already know where this is headed -- has been in center field. Trout has generated 27.8 WAR, trailed by Kevin Kiermaier (16.4) and Adam Eaton (15.4).

The difference in the best players at any position, by WAR, has been enormous.

1. Trout 27.8

2. Josh Donaldson 23.6

3. Clayton Kershaw 20.6

So, here we present the top 10 center fielders, based on input from evaluators. Even in a crowded field, it’s a given that the best is Trout, who is on his way to becoming an inner-circle Hall of Famer, a historic peer of Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Ty Cobb.

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

If for some reason you still aren't convinced, here are a couple of last notes about Trout, from Sarah Langs and Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information:

  • There have been seven instances of a center fielder with 9.0+ WAR in the divisional era. Mike Trout has four of those, followed by Ken Griffey Jr. with two and Rickey Henderson with one.