If MLB wasn’t already the toughest league on the planet, Mike Trout would be long promoted to the next level. He’s doing things this season we – as in, the history of humankind – haven’t seen from a ball player almost ever.
Yesterday, for example, he went 1-1 with two walks against the Diamondbacks improving his season-long slash line to .335/.469/.689. That’s good for a 213 wRC+, which means he’s been 113% better than the league average hitter this year. 113%. That’s just … what!?
He’s got the highest walk rate in baseball (and it’s higher than his strikeout rate), he leads the league in homers and runs, is 8th in RBI, 11th in stolen bases, 2nd in ISO, 5th in batting average, first (by a mile) in OBP, 2nd in slugging, and, quite obviously, first in overall production:
- Mike Trout: 213 wRC+
- Mookie Betts: 196 wRC+
- J.D. Martinez: 172 wRC+
- Freddie Freeman: 168 wRC+
- Jose Ramirez: 164 wRC+
As you can see, the second best offensive performer in baseball this season, Mookie Betts, doesn’t even come close to Trout (and he’s having a monster season, himself) and the guy in third place is not even within shouting distance. He’s on another level this season – even for himself – and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. Oh, and here’s a little history lesson for reference on that wRC+.
Of all the individual seasons that have ever been played (i.e. one player can account for multiple seasons) a player has finished with a wRC+ over 200 only 32 times. If you take away just the admitted steroid users (Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire), that number drops down 27.
Of those 27 seasons, here are the people who’ve accomplished this feat.
Babe Ruth: 10 times
Ted Williams: 6 times
Roger Hornsby: 2 times
Mickey Mantle: 2 times
Ty Cobb: 2 times
Fred Dunlap: 1 time
Lou Gherig: 1 time
Jeff Bagwell: 1 time
Frank Thomas: 1 time
Stan Musial: 1 time
Of course, that’s for over 200 wRC+. Only 10 individual seasons have been better than Trout’s current 213 wRC+ pace and it’s mostly Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, so you get the picture.
But here’s the coolest part about Mike Trout … he’s an also a phenomenal base runner and defender. And because of that, his WAR totals can get gaudy. Despite being just 26 years old, he’s already earned more career WAR than guys like Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Sammy Sosa, Ichiro Suzuki, Bobby Bonds, and many other future and current Hall-of-Famers.
But again, this season … he’s outplaying himself.
As of the start of play today, Mike Trout has already earned 6.3 WAR. In 2017, only nine players beat that mark over the course of the entire season. And we’re not even at the half-way point! If he continues on this pace, he’ll reach nearly 14.0 WAR by the end of the year, which would tie him with Babe Ruth’s 1921, 59-homer season – the second greatest season of all time, behind only Ruth’s 1923 campaign.
The projections are guessing he’ll only cobble together another 5.0 WAR or so, putting him just above 11 for the season, but he’s clearly got a shot to make history.
So I guess, if you ever wondered what it would be like to watch Babe Ruth play, turn on an Angels game. Because arguably the best baseball player in the history of the sport is just 26 years old and peaking before our very eyes.