(Photo via http://www.latimes.com)
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, I have some news for you: Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout is incredibly good at baseball. Even at the tender age of 24, he’s already on pace to be one of the best ever.
After taking a look at the torrid spring he’s currently enjoying (.440/.533/.760 through 25 at-bats), I began daydreaming about how awesome he is. You know, like any baseball fan would.
That led me to this question: How much worse would the Angels have been if Trout was merely an “average” starter at his position?
The pride of Millville, New Jersey only has one MVP award to show for his historic four-year run, but he’s placed second the other three times he didn’t win. He’s been to the All-Star game each year since 2012, and has never finished a full season without earning a Silver Slugger award.
Oh, and what he’s done through his age-23 season looks even more impressive when it’s compared to legends like Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, Rickey Henderson and Barry Bonds.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is it’s real hard to truly quantify Trout’s value to the Angels. That doesn’t mean we can’t try, though. For argument’s sake, I’m classifying “average” by finding the average fWAR among qualified center fielders in each season Trout has been in the majors.
Some people probably have a different idea of how to determine what an “average” center fielder would be, but I’m going with this one.
|Year||LAA W-L||Trout fWAR||“Avg” CF fWAR||Adjusted LAA W-L|
(Yes, I rounded the adjusted W-L numbers)
Now, let’s put some names to these “average” fWAR numbers.
2012: Denard Span, Minnesota Twins (3.4)
2013: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (4.2)
2014: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds (3.6)
2015: Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs (3.3)
Outside of Hamilton, these outfielders are all established MLB starters, and Trout still more than doubled their production each season. Again, we already know how good he is and it’s been sliced and diced a million different ways, but that shouldn’t make it any less impressive.
Since the Angels only made the playoffs in one of these four seasons (2014), there technically hasn’t been a huge impact for the Angels (although I can guarantee ticket sales would be lower). Coming in at 94 wins would’ve still been enough for LA to win the AL West, but they wouldn’t have had the AL’s best record. If that happened and they didn’t have to face the red hot Kansas City Royals in the ALDS, maybe they wouldn’t have gotten swept?
Who knows. The one thing I do know is that I’d still rather take Trout over Hamilton. Anybody that doesn’t would be nuts.
Obviously, these numbers and adjustments just take one player out and plug another in – it doesn’t account for how the plugged-in player performs in the Angels’ lineup and other various situations. Plus, using the term “average” is relative – by no means would I categorize someone like Jones as an average player. This was just another exercise to try and figure out how much of an impact Trout has had in Los Angeles.
Judging from all the things he’s accomplished in four big-league seasons, it’s even more incredible to think he technically hasn’t reached his physical peak yet.
Can he keep up this torrid pace and become one of the best to ever play the game? Can he get even better and become THE best that’s ever played? Will he come back down to Earth as he reaches the second half of his career.
All valid questions. No matter what anyone thinks, we can all agree it’ll be a lot of fun to watch him and see what actually does happen.
Thanks for reading! Matt’s work has been featured on Yahoo! Sports, Bleacher Report, FanDuel Insider and MLB Trade Rumors. To read more of his work, you can check it out at Chin Music Baseball. You can also follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.