Mike Trout is 22 years old and wrapping up his second full season as a major leaguer -- and he's already well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Baseball-Reference.com credits him as being worth 20 wins above replacement over his career. A player starts to be legitimately considered for Cooperstown inclusion when he gets into the 50-60 WAR range, meaning Trout could put himself in that conversation with another three or four seasons of similar quality. Or, more realistically, another six or eight seasons of half his previous quality. Divide and add as you wish for your own amalgamation.
It seems as if this point has yet to be brought up and discussed. Sure, Trout and his luxurious WAR are cited on a near daily basis, but usually as a factor in the AL MVP debate against Miguel Cabrera, either last year's or this year's. The Angels have had a terrible season, making it even easier to ignore what Trout has done. And let's be honest: It does get a little boring hearing about WAR all the time.
In Trout, we are looking at this era's Ken Griffey Jr. -- a once-in-a-generation player who does it all in myriad ways. Trout has slugged 58 home runs before his 23rd birthday, becoming the 28th player in baseball history to have done so. He has stolen 84 bases, becoming the 12th player in baseball history to have stolen that many before turning 23. Additionally, he has stolen those 84 bases in 96 attempts, an 87.5 percent success rate.
Last year, Trout led the league in adjusted OPS (168), stolen bases (49) and runs (129). This year, he leads in walks (86) and hits (176) and ranks third in runs (95) and second in batting average (.338). Considering the type of historic season Cabrera is having, that Trout leads in any offensive statistics at all is impressive.
Trout also has a .435 on-base percentage and a .575 slugging percentage. Only seven other players in baseball history have had a .300/.400/.500 season before turning 23: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews and Stan Musial. All of them are current or future Hall of Famers, putting aside Rodriguez's PED-related controversy.
We have yet to even get to Trout's defense. His advanced defensive metrics are down after a fantastic 2012 performance, which Mark Simon examined recently, but Trout has already put together a library of highlight-reel grabs just like Griffey. He robbed J.J. Hardy, Nate McLouth and Gordon Beckham of home runs last year, not to mention the numerous grabs he has made in the left- and right-center gaps.
Trout already rates as the 13th-best player in Angels franchise history going by WAR (20.0). He has already passed Rod Carew (17.3) and will pass Jim Edmonds, Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick, Chone Figgins, Troy Glaus and Vladimir Guerrero if he has another similar season in 2014, which would leave him with the seventh-highest career WAR in Angels history. Jim Fregosi leads at 45.7. That, perhaps, is a goal for 2016. In later years, he will summit other franchise records.
Assuming Cabrera soon returns to the Detroit Tigers' lineup on a regular basis, Trout will continue to be an afterthought in the AL MVP race. He will be in the debate, for sure, but most fans -- and presumably, voters -- are enamored with what Cabrera has done offensively and rightfully so, as there has never been a back-to-back Triple Crown winner. Perhaps Trout should have won the MVP award last year, and perhaps he should win it this year, but he'll have plenty of time to collect hardware as his career progresses, assuming good health. Hank Aaron won only one MVP award during his long and illustrious career, but that doesn't stop us from considering him one of the greatest players of all time.
The important thing is to simply acknowledge and admire what we are seeing from Trout right now. He is the Halley's Comet of baseball -- someone who comes around very infrequently, the sight of whom is enhanced with a deep understanding of what came before him. No one knows if he will be able to keep up his current pace, nor how long he will be able to maintain it, all the more reason to take time out of your week every now and then to watch an Angels game.