Mike Trout and the Greatest Decades of All Time

We tend to think of decades in two ways. The first is to classify a set of years with the same number in the tens column i.e. 80s, 90s, etc. This makes for very easy groupings when looking at the best what-have-you of a decade, or an all-decade team, but it can also be fairly restrictive. Just because 1961 and 1969 are both in the 60s, doesn’t really make them the same; we certainly hope that 2029 looks both much different and better than 2020 is shaping up to be. This manner of grouping arbitrarily chooses endpoints. But there is another way to look at a decade, and that’s to see it as any 10-year period. It’s much less restrictive and provides for more comparisons, particularly when it comes to baseball players, who tend to have relatively short primes that overlap different decades.

That was a relatively long-winded way to lead into what I’ve done, which is to look at a rolling 10-year position player leaderboard for every year since 1909. It should come as no surprise that Mike Trout’s 74.3 WAR leads the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019. He also leads the period from 2009 to 2018 and from 2008 to 2017. Since he didn’t play in 2010 and only accumulated 0.7 WAR in 2011, he’s almost guaranteed to lead the periods ending from 2020 to 2022 as well. For reference, the only players since the 10-year period ending in 1909 to be 10-year WAR leaders in six separate seasons are Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, and Barry Bonds. Only 24 players have topped the 10-year WAR leaderboard even once in the last 111 seasons. Here are those players:

Number of Years Spent as 10-Year WAR Leader
Player Years as 10-YR WAR Leader
Barry Bonds 13
Babe Ruth 10
Willie Mays 9
Mike Schmidt 8
Stan Musial 8
Ty Cobb 6
Honus Wagner 6
Albert Pujols 5
Joe Morgan 5
Rickey Henderson 4
Mickey Mantle 4
Ted Williams 4
Mel Ott 4
Lou Gehrig 4
Mike Trout 3
Alex Rodriguez 3
Hank Aaron 3
Jimmie Foxx 3
Tris Speaker 3
Miguel Cabrera 2
Wade Boggs 1
Carl Yastrzemski 1
Joe DiMaggio 1
Rogers Hornsby 1

If Trout is even halfway decent over the next few years, he’ll end up in the top-five of that list with the potential to hit double-digits. This is what the top-three for position players has looked like over the last 10 years:

10-Year WAR Leaders Since 2010
Yr End 1st WAR 2nd WAR 3rd WAR
2019 Mike Trout 73 Buster Posey 53 Joey Votto 48
2018 Mike Trout 65 Joey Votto 52 Buster Posey 51
2017 Mike Trout 55 Joey Votto 52 Miguel Cabrera 51
2016 Miguel Cabrera 56 Russell Martin 48 Mike Trout 48
2015 Miguel Cabrera 57 Albert Pujols 52 Chase Utley 51
2014 Albert Pujols 58 Miguel Cabrera 58 Chase Utley 58
2013 Albert Pujols 63 Chase Utley 55 Miguel Cabrera 55
2012 Albert Pujols 72 Alex Rodriguez 59 Chase Utley 52
2011 Albert Pujols 74 Alex Rodriguez 66 Chase Utley 49
2010 Albert Pujols 77 Alex Rodriguez 70 Barry Bonds 54

If you are wondering where Trout’s 73 WAR ranks historically, it’s 101th, though if Trout were to have standard Trout seasons in 2020 and 2021, he could get into the top 10 and potentially have the best 10-year period in history since Babe Ruth. Here are the very best decades in history:

Best 10-Year WAR Since 1900
Player Yr Start Yr End WAR
Babe Ruth 1919 1928 109.6
Babe Ruth 1920 1929 108
Babe Ruth 1921 1930 105.2
Babe Ruth 1923 1932 104.3
Babe Ruth 1918 1927 104.2
Babe Ruth 1922 1931 102.1
Rogers Hornsby 1920 1929 97
Babe Ruth 1924 1933 96.1
Babe Ruth 1917 1926 92.7
Barry Bonds 1995 2004 92.5
Lou Gehrig 1927 1936 92.5
Rogers Hornsby 1919 1928 92.3
Willie Mays 1957 1966 92.2
Willie Mays 1956 1965 90.7
Honus Wagner 1900 1909 90.4
Honus Wagner 1903 1912 90.1

Since World War II, only Willie Mays and Barry Bonds have averaged nine wins per season for an entire decade. The only other player in the last 75 years to hit 80 WAR in a 10-year period is Mickey Mantle. That’s a mark Trout would likely have gotten to this year with a full season’s worth of play, with an outside shot at topping Mays and Bonds with another Trout-like season in 2021. Even Trout’s 70 WAR puts him in pretty rare company. Below is the complete list of position players with 70-WAR decades:

Position Players with 70 WAR over 10 Years
Player 70-WAR Decades 80-WAR Decades 90-WAR Decades 100-WAR Decades High
Babe Ruth 13 11 8 6 109.6
Rogers Hornsby 9 7 2 0 97
Barry Bonds 13 8 1 0 92.5
Lou Gehrig 7 5 1 0 92.5
Willie Mays 10 7 2 0 92.2
Honus Wagner 7 5 2 0 90.4
Ty Cobb 8 4 0 0 88.2
Mickey Mantle 6 4 0 0 83.6
Mike Schmidt 5 0 0 0 78.7
Alex Rodriguez 6 0 0 0 78.3
Jimmie Foxx 6 0 0 0 77.7
Albert Pujols 4 0 0 0 77.3
Stan Musial 7 0 0 0 77.1
Tris Speaker 7 0 0 0 76.4
Hank Aaron 8 0 0 0 76.3
Eddie Collins 4 0 0 0 76.2
Mike Trout 1 0 0 0 73.4
Mel Ott 2 0 0 0 72.5
Nap Lajoie 1 0 0 0 72.2
Eddie Matthews 2 0 0 0 71.4
Rickey Henderson 1 0 0 0 70.2
Ted Williams 1 0 0 0 70.1

Mike Trout is already guaranteed two more decades of at least 70 WAR, with an 80-WAR season a reasonable possibility. I should also note that Ted Williams hit his 70 WAR in 10 seasons from 1946-1955, but he also put together 67 WAR from 1939-1948 despite missing three years in that time due to World WAR II. Over the last 50 years only six players have bested Trout’s eight-year stretch over the course of a decade.

Best 10-Year WAR Since the Start of 1961
Player Yr Start Yr End WAR
Barry Bonds 1995 2004 92.5
Barry Bonds 1993 2002 86.9
Barry Bonds 1994 2003 86.7
Barry Bonds 1996 2005 85.4
Barry Bonds 1989 1998 85.1
Barry Bonds 1992 2001 83.8
Barry Bonds 1988 1997 82
Barry Bonds 1990 1999 81.3
Barry Bonds 1997 2006 79.5
Barry Bonds 1991 2000 79.1
Mike Schmidt 1974 1983 78.7
Barry Bonds 1987 1996 78.4
Alex Rodriguez 1996 2005 78.3
Alex Rodriguez 1998 2007 78.2
Albert Pujols 2001 2010 77.3
Willie Mays 1961 1970 76.8
Mike Schmidt 1975 1984 76.4
Alex Rodriguez 1999 2008 76.2
Alex Rodriguez 2000 2009 75.5
Willie Mays 1962 1971 74.3
Albert Pujols 2002 2011 74
Mike Schmidt 1973 1982 73.9
Hank Aaron 1961 1970 73.9
Barry Bonds 1998 2007 73.8
Mike Schmidt 1976 1985 73.7
Mike Trout* 2010 2019 73.4
Alex Rodriguez 1997 2006 72.9
Barry Bonds 1986 1995 72.6
Hank Aaron 1962 1971 72.1
Albert Pujols 2003 2012 71.9
Mike Schmidt 1977 1986 71.2
Albert Pujols 2000 2009 70.6
Rickey Henderson 1981 1990 70.2
Alex Rodriguez 2001 2010 70
*Trout did not play in 2010 and accumulated just 0.7 WAR in 2011.

With a 5.5 WAR season in 2020, Trout would pass everyone on the list above except for Barry Bonds. There are a lot of ways to talk about just how good Mike Trout is as a baseball player, and this post is evidence that we haven’t run out of ways to show his brilliance on the diamond.

Lastly, for the sake of being a completist, here’s the top-three in WAR for every 10-year period going back to 1909:

10-Year WAR Leaders From 1909 to 2019
Yr End 1st WAR 2nd WAR 3rd WAR
2019 Mike Trout 73 Buster Posey 53 Joey Votto 48
2018 Mike Trout 65 Joey Votto 52 Buster Posey 51
2017 Mike Trout 55 Joey Votto 52 Miguel Cabrera 51
2016 Miguel Cabrera 56 Russell Martin 48 Mike Trout 48
2015 Miguel Cabrera 57 Albert Pujols 52 Chase Utley 51
2014 Albert Pujols 58 Miguel Cabrera 58 Chase Utley 58
2013 Albert Pujols 63 Chase Utley 55 Miguel Cabrera 55
2012 Albert Pujols 72 Alex Rodriguez 59 Chase Utley 52
2011 Albert Pujols 74 Alex Rodriguez 66 Chase Utley 49
2010 Albert Pujols 77 Alex Rodriguez 70 Barry Bonds 54
2009 Alex Rodriguez 76 Albert Pujols 71 Barry Bonds 62
2008 Alex Rodriguez 76 Barry Bonds 65 Albert Pujols 62
2007 Alex Rodriguez 78 Barry Bonds 74 Andruw Jones 61
2006 Barry Bonds 80 Alex Rodriguez 73 Andruw Jones 61
2005 Barry Bonds 85 Alex Rodriguez 78 Andruw Jones 55
2004 Barry Bonds 93 Alex Rodriguez 69 Jeff Bagwell 58
2003 Barry Bonds 87 Jeff Bagwell 62 Alex Rodriguez 62
2002 Barry Bonds 87 Jeff Bagwell 64 Mike Piazza 59
2001 Barry Bonds 84 Jeff Bagwell 64 Ken Griffey Jr. 61
2000 Barry Bonds 79 Ken Griffey Jr. 66 Jeff Bagwell 63
1999 Barry Bonds 81 Ken Griffey Jr. 66 Jeff Bagwell 57
1998 Barry Bonds 85 Ken Griffey Jr. 64 Frank Thomas 52
1997 Barry Bonds 82 Ken Griffey Jr. 57 Cal Ripken 49
1996 Barry Bonds 78 Wade Boggs 51 Cal Ripken 51
1995 Barry Bonds 73 Wade Boggs 56 Rickey Henderson 55
1994 Barry Bonds 65 Rickey Henderson 62 Wade Boggs 61
1993 Rickey Henderson 65 Wade Boggs 63 Cal Ripken 61
1992 Rickey Henderson 67 Wade Boggs 67 Cal Ripken 65
1991 Wade Boggs 69 Rickey Henderson 67 Cal Ripken 66
1990 Rickey Henderson 70 Wade Boggs 63 Cal Ripken 55
1989 Rickey Henderson 68 Wade Boggs 60 Mike Schmidt 57
1988 Mike Schmidt 65 Rickey Henderson 59 George Brett 54
1987 Mike Schmidt 68 Gary Carter 55 Rickey Henderson 53
1986 Mike Schmidt 71 Gary Carter 59 George Brett 57
1985 Mike Schmidt 74 George Brett 60 Gary Carter 56
1984 Mike Schmidt 76 George Brett 57 Gary Carter 53
1983 Mike Schmidt 79 George Brett 55 Joe Morgan 54
1982 Mike Schmidt 74 Joe Morgan 60 Rod Carew 52
1981 Mike Schmidt 67 Joe Morgan 64 Johnny Bench 53
1980 Joe Morgan 67 Mike Schmidt 59 Johnny Bench 55
1979 Joe Morgan 66 Johnny Bench 60 Graig Nettles 53
1978 Joe Morgan 67 Johnny Bench 60 Reggie Jackson 55
1977 Joe Morgan 66 Johnny Bench 60 Pete Rose 57
1976 Joe Morgan 64 Pete Rose 57 Carl Yastrzemski 57
1975 Carl Yastrzemski 58 Joe Morgan 58 Pete Rose 53
1974 Hank Aaron 60 Carl Yastrzemski 60 Pete Rose 53
1973 Hank Aaron 65 Ron Santo 62 Carl Yastrzemski 61
1972 Hank Aaron 68 Ron Santo 66 Willie Mays 66
1971 Willie Mays 74 Hank Aaron 72 Carl Yastrzemski 64
1970 Willie Mays 77 Hank Aaron 74 Frank Robinson 61
1969 Willie Mays 80 Hank Aaron 76 Frank Robinson 63
1968 Willie Mays 85 Hank Aaron 76 Frank Robinson 61
1967 Willie Mays 88 Hank Aaron 76 Frank Robinson 61
1966 Willie Mays 92 Hank Aaron 76 Mickey Mantle 65
1965 Willie Mays 91 Hank Aaron 76 Mickey Mantle 73
1964 Willie Mays 89 Mickey Mantle 80 Hank Aaron 75
1963 Willie Mays 89 Mickey Mantle 81 Eddie Mathews 71
1962 Mickey Mantle 83 Willie Mays 79 Eddie Mathews 71
1961 Mickey Mantle 84 Willie Mays 70 Eddie Mathews 68
1960 Mickey Mantle 75 Willie Mays 65 Eddie Mathews 61
1959 Mickey Mantle 68 Stan Musial 59 Willie Mays 57
1958 Stan Musial 68 Mickey Mantle 61 Ted Williams 60
1957 Stan Musial 75 Ted Williams 64 Duke Snider 56
1956 Stan Musial 73 Ted Williams 64 Jackie Robinson 57
1955 Stan Musial 77 Ted Williams 70 Jackie Robinson 53
1954 Stan Musial 71 Ted Williams 63 Jackie Robinson 51
1953 Stan Musial 73 Ted Williams 55 Jackie Robinson 48
1952 Stan Musial 76 Ted Williams 52 Lou Boudreau 48
1951 Stan Musial 74 Ted Williams 64 Lou Boudreau 53
1950 Ted Williams 68 Stan Musial 66 Lou Boudreau 56
1949 Ted Williams 70 Lou Boudreau 61 Stan Musial 59
1948 Ted Williams 67 Lou Boudreau 58 Joe Gordon 50
1947 Ted Williams 59 Joe DiMaggio 48 Lou Boudreau 47
1946 Joe DiMaggio 53 Mel Ott 49 Ted Williams 48
1945 Mel Ott 58 Joe DiMaggio 53 Bob Johnson 45
1944 Mel Ott 61 Arky Vaughan 53 Joe DiMaggio 53
1943 Mel Ott 63 Arky Vaughan 60 Jimmie Foxx 54
1942 Mel Ott 66 Jimmie Foxx 64 Arky Vaughan 62
1941 Jimmie Foxx 75 Mel Ott 67 Arky Vaughan 63
1940 Jimmie Foxx 76 Mel Ott 68 Lou Gehrig 67
1939 Jimmie Foxx 77 Lou Gehrig 76 Mel Ott 70
1938 Lou Gehrig 84 Jimmie Foxx 78 Mel Ott 73
1937 Lou Gehrig 89 Jimmie Foxx 74 Mel Ott 68
1936 Lou Gehrig 93 Babe Ruth 74 Jimmie Foxx 71
1935 Lou Gehrig 90 Babe Ruth 86 Jimmie Foxx 64
1934 Babe Ruth 89 Lou Gehrig 84 Al Simmons 60
1933 Babe Ruth 96 Lou Gehrig 74 Rogers Hornsby 65
1932 Babe Ruth 104 Rogers Hornsby 71 Lou Gehrig 67
1931 Babe Ruth 102 Rogers Hornsby 82 Lou Gehrig 59
1930 Babe Ruth 105 Rogers Hornsby 88 Frankie Frisch 59
1929 Babe Ruth 108 Rogers Hornsby 97 Frankie Frisch 57
1928 Babe Ruth 110 Rogers Hornsby 92 Tris Speaker 55
1927 Babe Ruth 104 Rogers Hornsby 88 Tris Speaker 60
1926 Babe Ruth 93 Rogers Hornsby 88 Tris Speaker 65
1925 Rogers Hornsby 88 Babe Ruth 82 Tris Speaker 68
1924 Babe Ruth 79 Rogers Hornsby 77 Ty Cobb 68
1923 Tris Speaker 73 Ty Cobb 68 Babe Ruth 67
1922 Tris Speaker 73 Ty Cobb 70 Eddie Collins 63
1921 Tris Speaker 76 Ty Cobb 73 Eddie Collins 67
1920 Ty Cobb 77 Tris Speaker 76 Eddie Collins 70
1919 Ty Cobb 84 Tris Speaker 75 Eddie Collins 72
1918 Ty Cobb 88 Eddie Collins 76 Tris Speaker 76
1917 Ty Cobb 88 Eddie Collins 75 Tris Speaker 70
1916 Ty Cobb 84 Eddie Collins 70 Honus Wagner 67
1915 Ty Cobb 79 Honus Wagner 74 Eddie Collins 63
1914 Honus Wagner 79 Ty Cobb 69 Eddie Collins 54
1913 Honus Wagner 85 Ty Cobb 64 Nap Lajoie 62
1912 Honus Wagner 90 Nap Lajoie 65 Ty Cobb 56
1911 Honus Wagner 89 Nap Lajoie 66 Ty Cobb 47
1910 Honus Wagner 90 Nap Lajoie 72 Bobby Wallace 46
1909 Honus Wagner 90 Nap Lajoie 67 Elmer Flick 46

We hoped you liked reading Mike Trout and the Greatest Decades of All Time by Craig Edwards!

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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manormachine
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manormachine

This article should be retitled “Trout has a long way to go to catch Bonds/Ruth.”

Matt
Member
Member
Matt

Well, he only needs about 2×7 WAR seasons to get up to 2nd place in the modern era in this metric.

Up to now, health has really been the only factor that’s kept him from truly belonging to the top group. Through his career, he’s averaged 9.9 WAR/162 games, so those 100 or so games missed in the last 3 years have hurt him. But even with that, if he actually could stay healthy and put up 2×9 WAR seasons, he could get into the 90-WAR club, and 2×10 would put him in the top-10 of all-time.

theorioleway
Member
theorioleway

I mean, sure. But he’s only played 8 full seasons. And will played 2020 at 28.

MikeS
Member
Member
MikeS

Of course. He isn’t even eligible for the hall of fame till he plays one more game! But he is number one in WAR through age 27 (by 4.6 fWAR over Cobb) and he has more than a 20 WAR lead over both of those guys at the same age.

It should be obvious that if you want to be the best ever at a game that has been around for almost 150 years you have to be VERY good for a VERY long time. The fact that you can even ask the question “can he catch Bonds and Ruth?” and not be laughed out of the room is impressive on it’s own.

tung_twista
Member
tung_twista

The real crazy thing isn’t that Trout is number 1 in WAR through age 27.
He is number 4 in WAR through age 28.

drewsylvania
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Member
drewsylvania

And your handle should be changed to “buzzkill”.