The holy grail for Major League Baseball is Babe Ruth, his career fWAR is 168.4 is the highest in MLB history; right in his tail is Barry Bonds (164.4) and Willie Mays (149.9). There is a center fielder in Anaheim that is off to a better start in his career than any of those three through his first eight seasons, and his name is Mike Trout.
In Trout’s first season in the majors he was worth 10 wins, it took Ruth six seasons to be worth more than more ten wins — the Bambino would then top double digit fWAR seasons eight more times during the remaining 14 years of his career. Mays topped ten wins in his third season, after being worth 4.9 wins in his first to seasons combined; and it took Bonds nine seasons to top double digits in fWAR. Just to hammer my point home, Trout was worth 20.1 wins in the first two seasons of his career.
To be fair to the Babe, Ruth’s fWAR totals are suppressed by how little the Red Sox actually used him during the first four seasons of his career (he only played in 166 games during that time) before playing in 95 games in 1918 and then his breakout season in 1919. Once he got going, he was absolutely dominant and was the best player the game had ever seen. But that’s changing.
2018 is the eighth season in Trout’s career and he’s already been worth 57.9 wins — for comparisons sake, future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki finished his career 57.4 wins in 18 seasons. This season his he’s hitting .328/.453/.703 with a wRC+ 206 in 159 plate appearances while earning an fWAR of 2.9.
But Trout’s offense isn’t his not strength as he’s been arguably been the best defensive center fielder to play the game…yes even better than Mays.
Trout is currently on pace to be worth eight wins again in ’18. If he averages eight wins a season for the next decade he’ll top Ty Cobb in total fWAR for his career and be right on Mays heels. The 26-year old — yes is only 26 — has done this in the age of specialization and power pitchers. He’s taken over the game in a way that not many before him have, and it’s got him on pace to be consider the greatest to ever play the game.
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I think he needs to have some postseason success as well to be considered the GOAT, but regardless a great career so far.
It’s hard to pin the Angels lack of post season success on him when they have the dumbest strategist in baseball for a manager