Mike Trout Is Baseball’s $430 Million Man

Have you had your morning coffee yet? Here’s something for you:

In the seven years since his debut as a precocious 19-year-old back in 2011, Mike Trout has been worth 64.9 wins above replacement — nearly 20 more than the next-greatest mark achieved over that period (Buster Posey’s 47.3). If you look since 2012, which eliminates Trout’s 0.7 win 2011, the gulf is just as wide: Trout’s 64.2 wins are as far ahead of second-place Posey (45.4) as Posey is of 21st place Jonathan Lucroy (26.3). Trout holds the record for most WAR through age 21, 22, 23, 24, and 26 (Ty Cobb beat him out for 25). Mike Trout is 23rd all time in career WAR through age 30, and he is only 27 years old. Mike Trout is already an average Hall of Famer, and his career can’t yet drive or buy a drink.

Now he’s also signed the biggest contract in professional sports history, besting in one swoop both Zack Greinke’s $34.4 million AAV (Trout will get $36 million), and, by $100 million, Bryce Harper’s briefly record-setting $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Trout will be an Angel for life and he is already the greatest to ever wear that uniform. Craig Edwards will have a much longer post putting this all in context later today, but for now, please take this time to discuss, reflect, and enjoy. Mike Trout is baseball’s greatest player, he should be the game’s biggest star, and he’s finally going to be paid like it.

We hoped you liked reading Mike Trout Is Baseball’s 0 Million Man by Rian Watt!

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Rian Watt is a contributor to FanGraphs based in Seattle. His work has appeared at Vice, Baseball Prospectus, The Athletic, FiveThirtyEight, and some other places too. By day, he’s a public policy researcher in housing & homelessness.

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frozndevl
Member
frozndevl

As much as I know the player’s association doesn’t like someone getting discounts, and anything less than all the money is a discount for Trout, as a fan I love that he’ll be an Angel for life. And as a fan, I mean a baseball fan in general, not Angel fan.

Sleepy
Member
Sleepy

Imagine if LeBron had made the playoffs once his entire career. And was immediately swept that one time. That’s Mike Trout.

As much as the “one team his entire career” narrative is quaint, it’s really, really bad for baseball that the defining player of his (or possibly any) generation just decided to spend his entire career with a mediocre team on the West Coast.

Bummer.

Moate
Member
Moate

Basketball comparisons aren’t great, because “one great player” immediately makes a team playoff viable. Dan Marino is probably better comparison, imo. I don’t think that Dan Marino’s situation was “bad for football” as a whole.

Doug
Member
Member
Doug

One great player? Tell that to the Lakers.

As for Marino, he at least made it to the Superb Owl.

Kevin
Member
Kevin

A. Imagine the Lakers without LeBron.
B. LeBron is 34 and doesnt play defense (like at all) in the regular season.

MarlinMan23
Member
MarlinMan23

It certainly wasn’t bad for this Dolphins fan!

dl80
Member
dl80

It’s not that unusual, though. Ty Cobb had 17 total postseason games. Honus Wagner had 15. Bonds had 48. Mays had 25. Ted Williams had 7. Even Rickey, who played forever, only had 60.

Sleepy
Member
Sleepy

Ty Cobb played in three World Series.

Honus Wagner played in two World Series.

Willie Mays played in four World Series.

Ted Williams played in a World Series.

Barry Bonds played in a World Series.

Rickey Henderson played in three World Series.

Mike Trout played in an ALDS.

TwinPeaks
Member
TwinPeaks

Trout’s career is also probably only 1/3 over.

CC AFC
Member
Member
CC AFC

How many teams existed when dudes like Wagner and Cobb were playing? And how many playoff series were there ahead of the World Series? There sure as fuck was not an ALDS and wild card round (applicable to Williams, Mays and portions of Rickey and Bonds’ careers, as well). Not to mention the whole separate league for non-white people thing. It was WAY easier to make the series back then.

Oswald321
Member
Oswald321

They won the pennant in the early years by having the best win percentage.

Sleepy
Member
Sleepy

“It was WAY easier to make the series back then.”

The Red Sox (or, really, anyone other than the Yankees) would beg to differ.

rhdx
Member
rhdx

Not really. Only the top team in each league would get there. Now, there are 10 teams (1/3 of the league) who make the playoffs and wild card teams regularly make the WS. And the comment noted how few playoff games those players played. With only one postseason series per year it is clearly much harder to accumulate playing time in the playoffs.

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

Yeah, there were only 24 teams in 1970 (near the end of Mays’ career) and only 16 in 1927 (near the end of Cobb’s). You don’t have to be a statistician to figure out that’s a lot easier to make a world series when you’re competing against 7 other teams than when you’re competing against 15.

mlmorgen
Member
Member
mlmorgen

Overstate things much? Mike Trout has played 7 full seasons plus a cup of coffee and is just 27 years old.

Cobb – 3 WS in 24 years (3 WS in first 8 years and never again)
Wagner – 2 WS in 21 years (1 WS in first 8 years – 1/2 those teams <.500))
Mays – 4 WS in 22 years (2 WS in first 8 years)
Williams – 1 WS in 19 years (1 WS in first 8 years and never again)
Bonds – 1 in 22 years (0 WS in first 8 years)
Henderson – 3 WS in 25 years (0 WS in first 8 years)

Managing to Statistics
Member
Managing to Statistics

Do you really need a dozen commenters to explain why these aren’t meaningful comparisons? This seems like intellectual dishonesty to me.

rasouddress
Member
rasouddress

Pujols has spent the entirety of his contract detracting from the value that Trout has provided. Pujols will only be with the Angels so much longer, so things can change.

Richard Bergstrom
Member
Richard Bergstrom

You assume changing teams guarantees you a playoff spot or World Series win. If anything, Trout is proof that unlike basketball, you need more than one good player to just have a chance to go to the playoffs.

WARonEverything
Member
WARonEverything

Why do people care about postseason. He has the opportunity to play in 162 games per season. Enjoy.

Sleepy
Member
Sleepy

“Why do people care about postseason.”

I found the Mariners fan! What do I win?

steelehere
Member
steelehere

Basketball is a lame example. Each team only plays five players at a time and all a team needs to win a title is to roster one of the NBA’s top 5 active superstars plus another top tier player to guarantee a long playoff run (insert 2018-19 Lebron James Lakers’ jokes here).

Baseball relies on nine players at a time and technically more as the pitcher’s spot is split among five starters and a designated hitter. No one player can ever influence the outcome of a team’s season the way an NBA top 5 superstar can.

I’d also note that half the league makes the playoffs in the NBA while just a quarter of the league does so in MLB so the chances of making the playoffs are obviously much easier in basketball.

User79
Member
User79

Would it have been better for baseball if he had joined the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers? I would think that creating parity is “better for baseball,” and joining a rebuilding team is one of the better outcomes if you want to create parity.

As we’ve seen in the last few years, a team can go from “mediocre” to competitive within a season or two. I think it’s a good thing that the Angels are looking to spend money and get better. With some good, young pieces like Ohtani and Simmons, they probably think they’re just a few moves and lucky breaks away from being competitive.

jforbes94
Member
jforbes94

>53% of all teams in the NBA make the playoffs every year. 33% or more realistically 26.7% make it in the MLB.

Cozar
Member
Cozar

So a mediocre team on the East Coast would have been okay?

It’s a shame that the Pujols contract and pitching injuries have limited Trout’s post-season appearances, but the past already happened regardless of whether Trout was going to become a free agent. The only question moving forward is whether from 2021 – 2030 (the new years) the Angels will be a playoff-caliber team.

Nobody knows the answer to that question, but there is no compelling reason to believe that the Angels have a worse chance at being a playoff team during those years than any other baseball team (with exception, perhaps, of the Yankees).

martyvan90
Member
Member
martyvan90

You’re gonna get killed but you raise the flip side to what I and many fans felt when we read he’d been extended. We feel good because we like players spending a career with one team, we love Trout period, but you’re point about Trout being almost hidden in Anaheim is a legitimate challenge for the marketing of baseball.

Art Vandelay
Member
Member
Art Vandelay

aside from his few endorsements when he didn’t have a gargantuan contract to fall back on, Trout has never really shown he wants to be marketed in that way. If anything, this contract shows he’s happy quietly being the greatest player of his generation living in an area he must enjoy living in.

OddBall Herrera
Member
OddBall Herrera

You’re probably just being polite by not bringing up his lifetime .083 postseason batting average, which only bolsters your argument.

What a loser! He’s on pace for something like $170 million per postseason hit. It’s real, it’s plain math. Angels got shafted, they should’ve given that money to Marco Scutaro. Remember that NLCS when he hit .500? THAT is a real winner.