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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Mike Trout isn’t the fastest to 1,000 hits, but it’s still a historic feat

From 1901 through Monday, just 23 players have managed to reach 1,000 career hits during their age-25 campaign. Maybe 23 doesn’t sound incredible because it’s not a single-digit number of a list of one. But 10,707 non-pitchers are listed in Baseball-Reference’s database as having picked up a bat between 1901 and now. Trout is one of just 23 of those to reach 1,000 hits before their age-25 season ends. Just 0.21 percent of players have done what he’s managed. That’s as good as any single-digit rank.

Or let’s look at this another way.

Trout picked up 1,000 hits while he was, in baseball years, 25 years old. Since 1913, MLB has seen 1,449 non-pitchers make their debut on or after their 26th birthday, out of 9,815 non-pitchers who took the field in that stretch, total. Trout reached 1,001 hits before 15 percent of all baseball players of the last 104 years who had even gotten started on their own careers.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 08, 2017 at 12:33 PM | 70 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mike trout

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   1. eric Posted: August 08, 2017 at 02:56 PM (#5509101)
I think stats like these (and those tortured combinations like 1000H, 500R, 500BB) show just how well-rounded Trout really is.

When Pujols was Trout's age, the talk was about how he was going to break the all-time HR record, and the all-time 2B record, and break the all-time R and RBI records, and get close to 4000 H, and...

There's none of that for Trout. Even though people recognize how great he is, and he has these "all-time leader in WAR through age XX" records, that's about it. He's not currently a threat at getting even close to the HR and 2B records, or RBI for that matter. He could have a shot at the all-time R record, but I have to imagine he won't be as adept on the bases during much of the second half of his career. You have to triple his current production (giving him a very healthy 11,500+ PA career with 150+ WAR) at his current rate just to get him to 3000 H. He's fast but not going to break any SB records, and is a good defender but might never get anything other than a "career achievement" GG, much less ever position himself alongside Mays as an all-time great defender.

The result is people have to find ways to massage the traditional statistics in such ways as to present him at the level of esteem they already hold him. Mike Trout: Otherworldly in how good he is in so many different areas while being an all-time standout in none.
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 08, 2017 at 03:24 PM (#5509130)
there was this tweet from the same @grogg from above:
"Mike Trout career OBP to date:
vs RH: .410
vs LH: .410
1st half: .410
2nd half: .410
Home: .413
Away: .407"

that's scary
   3. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: August 08, 2017 at 04:08 PM (#5509188)
There's none of that for Trout. Even though people recognize how great he is, and he has these "all-time leader in WAR through age XX" records, that's about it. He's not currently a threat at getting even close to the HR and 2B records, or RBI for that matter.
I'm sorry, but you just can't say that.

Only one of the top-10 career 2b guys was top-10 thru age 25 (Trout needs 11 to make this list). Trout already has 22 more 2b than career #1 Speaker and 120 more than #2 Rose.
Four of the top-ten career HR were top-10 thru 25. Trout (#9 thru age-25) is 74 ahead of #1 Bonds, 12 ahead of #2 Aaron, and ahead of everyone other than #4 ARod, #6 Frank Robinson, and #7 Pujols.
Two of the top-ten career R were top-10 thru 25. Trout (#10) is ahead of everyone except #2 Cobb and #8 ARod.

Trout is also top-10 thru 25 in SLG, OPS, BB, and OPS+.

He may fall off - many of the guys on the "thru-25" lists don't sustain their production. But he's absolutely positioned, if he plays long enough, to challenge these records.
   4. Baldrick Posted: August 08, 2017 at 04:34 PM (#5509209)
He may fall off - many of the guys on the "thru-25" lists don't sustain their production. But he's absolutely positioned, if he plays long enough, to challenge these records.

That's so not the point that eric was making, but okay.
   5. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: August 08, 2017 at 04:47 PM (#5509216)
That's so not the point that eric was making, but okay.
I won't speak for him, but his last sentence seems to contradict you:
Mike Trout: Otherworldly in how good he is in so many different areas while being an all-time standout in none.
   6. The Good Face Posted: August 08, 2017 at 05:17 PM (#5509227)
What I find interesting about Trout is that despite playing at an MVP level every year for six years straight, he doesn't have a single "HOF Season" as defined by Bill James back in the day, namely a .300+ BA, 30+ HRs, and 100+ RBI all in the same season. He's done all of those things multiple times, but never all 3 in the same year. Weird.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: August 08, 2017 at 05:26 PM (#5509232)
I wonder what everyone would think of him in the pre-WAR era. I mean clearly he's an elite player any way you slice it, but would he have so immediately entered "inner circle" territory?
   8. The Good Face Posted: August 08, 2017 at 05:33 PM (#5509236)
I wonder what everyone would think of him in the pre-WAR era. I mean clearly he's an elite player any way you slice it, but would he have so immediately entered "inner circle" territory?


I'm guessing some people would grumble about him not being "an RBI guy", claim he's more interested in drawing walks than knocking runs in, but the batting average, HRs and steals would go a long way.
   9. Batman Posted: August 08, 2017 at 05:37 PM (#5509242)
Mike Nelson briefly played The Amazing Colossal Man in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that aired on August 3, 1991. Four days later, Michael Nelson Trout was born.
   10. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 08, 2017 at 05:39 PM (#5509244)
Those splits in [2] are incredible. Trout has some Musial-esque H/R consistency.
   11. Srul Itza Posted: August 08, 2017 at 05:43 PM (#5509247)
I'm guessing some people would grumble about him not being "an RBI guy", claim he's more interested in drawing walks than knocking runs in, but the batting average, HRs and steals would go a long way.


Mickey Mantle Redux.

Clearly great, and fast when he came up (though not a lot of steals), but much more a run scorer and walk taker than an RBI guy.

EDIT: And just looked it up -- he's the Mick's "Most Similar" for age 24 and 25.
   12. The Duke Posted: August 08, 2017 at 05:50 PM (#5509250)
The St. Louis broadcasting team had some comment that he's faster to 1000 than Pete Rose - the implication being that he could hit 4000. Talk to me when he gets to 3000 about getting to 4000
   13. JAHV Posted: August 08, 2017 at 06:04 PM (#5509253)
Trout walks too much to be a favorite to get to 4,000 hits. Heck, I don't even think he can be a 50/50 shot for 3,000 just due to the nature of aging and injuries and all that.

At the end of the day, though, his numbers will look pretty incredible. It's just a bummer he had that thumb injury. He's having the best offensive season of his career, by far. He could have put up a 12 WAR season if he'd stayed healthy.
   14. JimMusComp likes Billy Eppler.... Posted: August 08, 2017 at 06:14 PM (#5509258)
It's just a bummer he had that thumb injury. He's having the best offensive season of his career, by far. He could have put up a 12 WAR season if he'd stayed healthy.


Yeah, he was really raking and that SLG sitting above .700 is still kinda insane.

Normally hand injuries zap some power/hitting when they return. His BA and OBP are up since his return with his SLG being down about 40 points. He's not really slowing up.

His BB's are going up and K's coming down as you'd expect as one gets more comfortable and more sure of himself. It's just kinda amazing what he's doing. I'm equally thankful he's on my favorite team and sad for him that he's on this version of my favorite team.
   15. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 08, 2017 at 06:15 PM (#5509259)
Clearly great, and fast when he came up (though not a lot of steals), but much more a run scorer and walk taker than an RBI guy.
While the all-time leader in GIDPs is batting behind him, Trout's always going to get walked a ton, and that's on top of him being a selective hitter... and that'll probably be the case for the next decade or so, no matter who's batting behind him. Trout's just gonna be more dangerous than anyone else in the lineup.
   16. eric Posted: August 08, 2017 at 06:20 PM (#5509261)
Even with his early start and hitting the ground running, Trout is still ~10th in a lot of those categories for his age. He's not going to break the 2B record hitting 35/year during his prime or the HR record hitting 35/year at his best or the RBI record with 100/year. The record holders really stood out in those areas on a per season basis, even if they had a later start.

But yes, my more general point, is that he doesn't have any one signature skill. Many of the greatest players, especially the ones vying for GOAT status, have something to their credit where they just absolutely stood out compared to not only their time period, but all of history. Babe Ruth had the HR of course, but still has the all-time SLG record. Ty Cobb has the BA record. Mays, well-rounded as he was, has his fielding. Aaron had of course the HR but also still has the TB and RBI records. Teddy has the OBP record. Bonds, another all-around maestro, has the BBs. Even Mantle has the record for skirt-chasing (baseball-only division).

In all seriousness, Trout doesn't look to have any one skill where he will stand out among everyone, even in his own time period, except for overall WAR. Now he did just turn 26 and maybe will go full Bondsian on the league, but as of yet he seems rather unique in that he could threaten as a top-10 (or, of course, better) player of all time but without a thing he is known for. He is great at a lot of things (pretty much everything) but absolutely superlative at none.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: August 08, 2017 at 06:56 PM (#5509274)
The expansion era is in its 57th season and the integration era in its 71st, there's really not much reward in including pre-War comps in any such lists.

In the expansion era, through age 25, Trout currently sits 8th in hits. By season's end he should at least pass Griffey into 6th, possibly Alomar and Renteria (needs 60 hits to tie) into 4th. Of the top 10, the only ones who have 3,000 hits are the top two of AROD and Yount who got started even earlier than Trout. (They will be about 110-115 ahead of him at season's end.) #3 Cesar Cedeno was (a) impressively Trout-like, especially in raw numbers and given his home park and (b) one of the few cautionary tales for Trout. Presumably current #7 Miguel Cabrera will also reach 3000 hits (currently 2609).

Starlin Castro sits 10th, 2 spots ahead of near-3,000 Pujols. Beltre is 16th on the list, Ripken 19th, Brett 24th (just 870 hits, 305 BA vs. Trout's 309). Jeter is 41st, nearly 200 hits behind Trout, he'll be passed by Jason Heyward any day now (helps to have a full season in hand). Molitor was nearly 300 hits behind Trout, Carew (#103 on this list) will be nearly 400 behind by season's end (307 BA through 25), Biggio had just 454 hits through age 25.

For this era, Trout's 309 BA through age 25 (min 2000 PA) is tied for 12th with Cabrera (and David Wright and Tommie Davis), 2 points behind ARod, 9 behind Jeter, a whopping 23 behind Pujols. As noted, a little better than Carew and Brett, 18 points ahead of Murray.

Obviously it requires health, it always requires health. After age 25, Griffey had just 1742 hits. But through age 25, Trout is about as good a bet to reach 3,000 hits as anybody has ever been. Heck, he'll be 300 hits ahead of Rose. And as Brett, Carew and perhaps more Trout-relevant guys like Miggy, Manny, etc. suggest, Trout could have some really big BA years ahead of him -- like the 346 he's currently putting up. He may never have a 200-hit season (Miggy has just one, Manny had none, Pujols just one at age 23) but those aren't required.

Manny got a later start and of course never made 3,000. From ages 26-39, Manny averaged just 500 PA, 420 AB per year. Across that time period, that was 1984 hits, 413 doubles, 446 HR. Assuming Trout finishes this season healthy, adding that would give him 3034 hits, 605 doubles, 637 HR. No all-time records, just (give or take) Willie Mays, effective Albert Pujols style counting numbers. That would give Trout about 11,400 PA ... though 11,700 PA, Aaron had 3272 hits, 562 doubles, 639 HR.

How would Trout be viewed in the pre-WAR (not pre-War) era? Probably as the best player in the game with his 300+ BA and big power but probably not an all-time great. Granted, the sub-30 HR seasons might not be so impressive in-context. Even among young players, by BA, HR, SB, he doesn't look that much better than Cedeno or prime Andre Dawson. He might not have won any MVP awards yet (a good shot in 2014, probably not a prayer any of those other years). Certainly Miggy would be higher-rated in those early years and he wouldn't be seen as being an equal of Pujols' greatness. But he'd still be drawing some Mantle and Mays comparisons, possibly in the "one of these seasons he's going to pull it all together."

In an actual earlier era, he'd probably be stealing a lot more bases cuz we did that a lot more back in the day. That's what made Cedeno so fascinating -- 300 BA with 25 HR and 50 steals was exciting.

How he was perceived would have depended a lot more on non-performance factors probably. His raw numbers (other than BA ... and of course OBP but nobody cared much then) also look kinda similar to Bobby Bonds who was never perceived too favorably and obviously in Mays' shadow early in his career. If for whatever reason he was supposed to live up to Pujols' or Miggy's greatness ... or if maybe he'd gone to the Mariners and was touted as the next Griffey ... then maybe he would be considered a disappointment.

It is odd how little black ink he has and he particularly has very little in the stuff we used to care about -- 1 year leading the league in RBI, never in BA or HR. Even stuff we now care about, he's led the league in OBP just once and SLG just once, raw OPS just once, TB just once. No 200-hit season, never reached even 350 TB in a season. Of course Mays wasn't much different nor was Aaron through age 24 (he had a big age 25), but they're not remembered that way necessarily. Trout's non-WAR greatness did run the risk of getting lost in the transition to a lower-scoring era. In raw terms, any Sosa season 1998-2000 makes Trout look like a boy (Trout actually hasn't yet had an offensive season as good as Sosa's 2001 by any standard).
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 08, 2017 at 09:18 PM (#5509321)
Nobody needs to defend Trout's greatness. What I found fascinating about that list were three of the names on it: Freddie Lindstrom (4th most hits), Buddy Lewis (10th), and Edgar Renteria (17th). The least surprising name is Mel Ott, who started his career straight from high school at 17, and by his age 20 season already had 388 hits under his belt, as well as an 144 OPS+
   19. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 08, 2017 at 11:39 PM (#5509383)
He's done all of those things multiple times, but never all 3 in the same year. Weird.


I found it interesting that last year, when it seemed like everybody hit 30 homers, Trout -- who had hit 41 the year before -- didn't. And still had maybe his best offensive season ever.
   20. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 09, 2017 at 01:01 AM (#5509427)
I wonder what everyone would think of him in the pre-WAR era. I mean clearly he's an elite player any way you slice it, but would he have so immediately entered "inner circle" territory?

I think this is an interesting question, and it probably depends on what era you time-warp to. I'm sure he'd be recognized as a "star" in any era, but to echo what Eric and Walt said above, it's a bit surprising how superficially "unimpressive" (by old-school standards) his numbers have been.

For example, these are Trout's CAREER BESTS in each category (where no rank is indicated, his best season is not in the top 500 all-time):

AVG: .326 (though he's threatening to break that this year)
HR: 41 (only two seasons over 30) - tied for 233rd all-time
RBI: 116 (only two seasons over 100)
Hits: 190
2B: 39
3B: 9
Runs: 129 - tied for 263rd all time
SB: 49 (only two seasons over 30) - tied for 489th all-time
BB: 116 (only two seasons over 100) - tied for 184th all-time

If you threw all of those numbers into a single season, it's pretty amazing, but still doesn't quite scream "greatest seasons of all time!" Even in the new-school stat OPS, he has yet to top 1.000 for an entire season (2017 pending).
   21. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 09, 2017 at 02:09 AM (#5509439)
Even looking at more sabermetric stats (not including this year):

OBP: .441 - 314th all-time
SLG: .590 - 401st all-time
OPS: .991 - 459th all-time
OPS+: 179 - tied for 192nd all-time
RC: 155 - tied for 126th all-time

As mentioned above, not much black ink, especially in the "traditional" categories (1x SB, 1x RBI, 4x runs, but people historically haven't paid much attention to runs scored for some reason). Good defensive reputation but no Gold Gloves.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2017 at 03:00 AM (#5509442)
In addition to the crazily consistent splits, Trout's OPS+ from 2012-16 was 173 with a low of 168 and a high of 179. It's just nuts.

Again, in the pre-WAR era (and still a good bit today), it's quite possible that Bryce Harper might be talked about in more reverent terms because of that one great season than Trout with his consistent five. It hasn't changed entirely but sabermetrics (from OPS+ to WAR) has made it harder for players to hang their hat on what they did 3-4 years ago. Back in the day, I recall I was kinda excited (and probably the media too) when the Cubs acquired Tommy Davis in 1971 ... because he'd had a monster season back in 1962. This was still reflected a bit in his MVP votes as at the age of 34, he finished 10th in the AL MVP after a season of 7 HR, 89 RBI, 107 OPS+, 1.1 WAR as a DH for the O's. Orlando Cepeda finished 15th DHing for the Red Sox (20 HR, 86 RBI, 117 OPS+).
   23. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 09, 2017 at 06:18 AM (#5509452)
If you threw all of those numbers into a single season, it's pretty amazing, but still doesn't quite scream "greatest seasons of all time!"

Let's take a look at my statement here.

Mike Trout, career highs combined:
.326, 129 R, 190 H, 39 2B, 9 3B, 41 HR, 116 RBI, 49 SB, 116 BB

Compares superficially to...

Jim Rice, 1979 (not his MVP year, led the league in nothing but total bases):
.325, 117 R, 201 H, 39 2B, 6 3B, 39 HR, 130 RBI, 7 SB, 57 BB
Pretty close except for the SB and BB.

Jose Canseco, 1988 (40-40 MVP year)
.307, 120 R, 187 H, 34 2B, 0 3B, 42 HR, 124 RBI, 40 SB, 78 BB
Comparable, I think.

Ken Griffey Jr., 1993 (a good year but not his best):
.309, 113 R, 180 H, 38 2B, 3 3B, 45 HR, 109 RBI, 17 SB, 96 BB
Pretty close except for the SB

Alex Rodriguez, 1998 (A-Rod's peak SB year but run-of-the mill for him in other regards, 9th in MVP):
.310, 123 R, 213 H, 35 2B, 5 3B, 42 HR, 124 RBI, 46 SB, 45 BB
Very similar except for the walks

Jeff Bagwell, 1999 (a good year but not his best):
.304, 143 R, 171 H, 35 2B, 0 3B, 42 HR, 126 RBI, 30 SB, 149 BB
Turn some of those walks into hits and it's very close

Alfonso Soriano, 2002 (his 40-40, finished 3rd in MVP):
.300, 128 R, 209 H, 51 2B, 2 3B, 39 HR, 102 RBI, 41 SB, 23 BB
Pretty close except BB and AVG.

Carlos Gonzalez, 2010 (at altitude, but in only 145 games):
.336, 111 R, 197 H, 34 2B, 9 3B, 34 HR, 117 RBI, 26 SB, 40 BB
Pretty close except SB and BB.

Paul Goldschmidt, 2015 (possibly his best year, but not one people talk about a lot):
.321, 103 R, 182 H, 38 2B, 2 3B, 33 HR, 110 RBI, 21 SB, 118 BB
Trout is better in the speed categories

These are all great years, but I think only Canseco's would likely be listed under "historic seasons," and that's because of being the first 40-40. And in the age of WAR, even that one is more of a garden-variety "MVP-caliber" year (he finished 3rd in WAR) than anything really elite. Most of these other seasons have already been forgotten.

Admittedly, Trout's ability to hit 41 HR and steal 49 bases is quite rare so it's hard to find a true comparable to the "peak all-categories Trout," but it's worth noting that he didn't do those in the same season himself -- he hit "only" 30 HR in the 49 SB year and stole only 11 bases in his 41 HR year. He's only been 30-30 once.

As dozens have pointed out, the thing about Trout is that he does EVERYTHING well, EVERY year.
   24. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 09, 2017 at 08:09 AM (#5509474)

As dozens have pointed out, the thing about Trout is that he does EVERYTHING well, EVERY year.

And he's been doing it since he was 20. And he does it all as a good fielding CFer. And he's been very durable (this year's thumb injury notwithstanding).
   25. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: August 09, 2017 at 08:28 AM (#5509481)
Joey Votto has played in 113 games this season. He is leading the NL in OPS+. He has 41 rbat.

Mike Trout has played only 69 games this season. He has 40 rbat.
   26. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 09, 2017 at 08:39 AM (#5509487)

The other thing to note in #23 is that you're comparing counting stats across very different offensive environments in some cases. Over Mike Trout's career prior to this year, his .963 OPS has been good for a 170 OPS+. By comparison, in 1993, Griffey had a 1.025 OPS but only a 171 OPS+. So his season was about as good as a typical Trout season offensively, but his raw stats look better. Bagwell's 1.045 OPS in 1999 was a 164 OPS+. And then you have CarGo's .974 OPS in Coors Field in 2010, which was equivalent to a 143 OPS+ that year; or Jim Rice's .977 in Fenway in 1979 which was a 154 OPS+. All of those guys put up superficially similar or better raw numbers to Trout, but worse numbers on an adjusted basis.
   27. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 09, 2017 at 10:47 AM (#5509593)
And then you have CarGo's .974 OPS in Coors Field in 2010,


Neutralizing trouts stats to 2010 Coors, gives him .361 49 HR 149 RBI 226 hits 57 SB 134 BB 164 runs . IOW, he blows CarGo away in every category.

Put him in Houston in 1999 and it's .359 48 146 223 57 132 162. So he blows away Bagwell in everything but walks.

Now granted, these are Trout's career bests vs a single (and in some cases not their best years), but yeah, context. And Trout adds a lot of defensive value whereas a lot of those guys didn't.
   28. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: August 09, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5509651)
In all seriousness, Trout doesn't look to have any one skill where he will stand out among everyone, even in his own time period, except for overall WAR. Now he did just turn 26 and maybe will go full Bondsian on the league, but as of yet he seems rather unique in that he could threaten as a top-10 (or, of course, better) player of all time but without a thing he is known for. He is great at a lot of things (pretty much everything) but absolutely superlative at none.
And my point was simply this: It's still too early to tell.

If instead of hitting 30-35 2b per season he starts hitting 40, he can approach the record. If he continues to get as many TB, he can approach the record. If the rules are tweaked because MLB thinks there's too many BB and K, or he changes his approach to hit for more power (like Votto seems to have), that would help him on those lists.

But the biggest things that are going to determine where he ends up on these lists are health and career length:

Bonds was 5th in BB thru age 35, and had yet to hit his 500th HR.
Aaron was 6th in RBI thru age 36, and was still 55 HR behind ARod in HR. On the flip side, Pujols was just 1 HR behind Aaron at the same age.
Pete Rose, #2 in career 2b, wasn't top-10 for his age until 37.

ARod is probably the best example of this. Thru age-36, he was:

1st in HR. He finished 4th, 66 behind Bonds.
1st in R. He finished 3th, 174 behind Henderson.
2nd in TB (200 behind Aaron). He finished 6th, more than a thousand behind Aaron.
2nd in RBI (45 behind Gehrig, but that was his last season), 100 ahead of Aaron. He finished 3rd, 200 behind Aaron.
   29. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 09, 2017 at 12:24 PM (#5509718)
As dozens have pointed out, the thing about Trout is that he does EVERYTHING well, EVERY year.

I wonder how many active players have had even one season better than Trout's average season. Not many, I'd bet.

Trout's average season to date, prorated to 162 games:

711 PA
597 AB
120 R
184 H
35 2B
7 3B
35 HR
101 RBI
29 SB
5 CS
98 BB
155 SO
.309 BA
.410 OBP
.569 SA
.979 OPS
173 OPS+
339 TB
9.8 WAR

Of course that's only for 6 full seasons, counting 2017, but at this point we're talking Mickey Mantle territory.
   30. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 09, 2017 at 12:33 PM (#5509730)
I wonder how many active players have had even one season better than Trout's average season. Not many, I'd bet.


11 active players, not counting Trout, had a season of 170 OPS+ or better. Of those, Pujols, Harper, and Cabrera had at least one season that was clearly better. Possibly Matt Kemp. The others are Votto, Posey, Mauer, Bautista, victor Martinez, Hamilton, Jose Abreu.

edit: I guess Hamilton is not active, but BBREF thinks he is.
   31. Batman Posted: August 09, 2017 at 12:40 PM (#5509741)
It's not current anymore, but there's a Sporcle quiz where you were supposed to list all the Hall of Famers who had had any year where they beat the then (through 2010) career lows of Albert Pujols in BA, OBP, SLG, HR, 2B, and RBI.
   32. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 09, 2017 at 12:44 PM (#5509747)
The other thing to note in #23 is that you're comparing counting stats across very different offensive environments in some cases.

Oh, sure. But this was just an extended riff on the question of "How would people view Trout in different eras?" so I was just focusing on the commonly available "baseball card numbers." I'm not trying to say that Trout is "only" as good as these guys, just that an average baseball fan from the '40s or '70s might view him as such if the readily available statistical record was all he had to go on. (Smart fans, of course, would adjust for park and position.)

But, you know, even if you're looking at adjusted numbers, Trout's career best OPS+ of 179 is tied for just 192nd all-time. That's really good, but a lot of guys have topped that, including non-elites like Rocky Colavito, Travis Hafner, Pedro Guerrero, Kevin Mitchell (twice), and John Olerud.

I like the way Eric said it above: "He is great at a lot of things (pretty much everything) but absolutely superlative at none." So I wonder if possibly he would've been viewed more as a Vada Pinson (really good player but only made two All-Star teams, only one top-5 MVP finish) or Al Kaline (easy HOFer but never seriously considered the VERY best in the game) instead of a Mays or Mantle. Pinson had compiled some pretty serious stats through age 25, by the way, topping Trout's career bests in R, H, 2B, 3B, and AVG, so I don't mean this dismissively.
   33. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 09, 2017 at 12:47 PM (#5509754)
I wonder how many active players have had even one season better than Trout's average season. Not many, I'd bet.

11 active players, not counting Trout, had a season of 170 OPS+ or better. Of those, Pujols, Harper, and Cabrera had at least one season that was clearly better. Possibly Matt Kemp. The others are Votto, Posey, Mauer, Bautista, victor Martinez, Hamilton, Jose Abreu.


So 11 out of approximately 750. I'd still say that's pretty amazing, and it wouldn't surprise me if many of those seasons fell short of Trout's average season in at least one or a few key categories.
   34. Ithaca2323 Posted: August 09, 2017 at 12:56 PM (#5509769)
But the biggest things that are going to determine where he ends up on these lists are health and career length:


Well, that's pretty obvious. Any inner-circle type player with a long and healthy career is going to wind up somewhere high on these lists. But some of these trends don't bode well if we're debating his shot at the all-time mark. There's only so many sub 175-hit and sub-100 RBI seasons you can put together in your prime before you dig too deep a hole. Even this season, pre-injury, Trout had 55 hits in 53 team games, for example—though the RBI total shot up
   35. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 09, 2017 at 12:57 PM (#5509771)
The others are Votto, Posey, Mauer, Bautista, victor Martinez, Hamilton, Jose Abreu.


Votto, Bautista, Victor and Abreu all clearly fall short of Trout on defensive value. Hamilton probably does too.
   36. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 09, 2017 at 12:58 PM (#5509773)
Trout's average season to date, prorated to 162 games:

Heh, proving everyone's point, Trout's average season is barely distinguishable from his all-career-bests compilation season. :)
   37. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 09, 2017 at 01:10 PM (#5509791)
My only complaint about Trout is that the great majority of his games begin two hours before midnight. They should just fast-forward through the other 8 batters whenever the Angels play.
   38. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 09, 2017 at 01:12 PM (#5509794)
Oh, sure. But this was just an extended riff on the question of "How would people view Trout in different eras?" so I was just focusing on the commonly available "baseball card numbers." I'm not trying to say that Trout is "only" as good as these guys, just that an average baseball fan from the '40s or '70s might view him as such if the readily available statistical record was all he had to go on. (Smart fans, of course, would adjust for park and position.)

But, you know, even if you're looking at adjusted numbers, Trout's career best OPS+ of 179 is tied for just 192nd all-time. That's really good, but a lot of guys have topped that, including non-elites like Rocky Colavito, Travis Hafner, Pedro Guerrero, Kevin Mitchell (twice), and John Olerud.

I like the way Eric said it above: "He is great at a lot of things (pretty much everything) but absolutely superlative at none." So I wonder if possibly he would've been viewed more as a Vada Pinson (really good player but only made two All-Star teams, only one top-5 MVP finish) or Al Kaline (easy HOFer but never seriously considered the VERY best in the game) instead of a Mays or Mantle. Pinson had compiled some pretty serious stats through age 25, by the way, topping Trout's career bests in R, H, 2B, 3B, and AVG, so I don't mean this dismissively.


So I did a P-I search for players with at least 3000 PA and an OPS+ of 170 or better through age 25. Mantle, Foxx, Cobb, Trout. Dropping it to 160 adds Speaker, Hornsby, and Pujols. Dropping it to 150 adds Ott, Aaron, Mathews, and DiMaggio. At 145 we get Medwick, F Robby, Griffey Jr., Sam Crawford, Arky Vaughan, and Sherry Magee. So it's not until that level that we get to someone not recognized as an all time great.

Now, of course there was no OPS+ back then, and thus players weren't evaluated by it, but the point is you have to get 25 points below where Trout is now to get to someone like that. Yeah, a lot of those guys had better raw stats, and more black ink, but that's a factor of era, which includes league size. Mantle had more impressive black ink than Trout, but how much would he have had had he had to compete with players on 15 teams rather than 8?

Trout has black ink (not counting anything right of BA on the BBREF stats page, since we are talking about old timey evaluations) in runs (4 times), RBI, SB once each, and walks twice. Mantle has runs (3 times), Triples and RBI once each, HR twice, walks twice, BA once. But throwing in the NL (to get a comparable league size to Trout), he loses his triples and one HR black ink. So, Trout has more.
   39. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 09, 2017 at 01:13 PM (#5509799)
Votto, Bautista, Victor and Abreu all clearly fall short of Trout on defensive value. Hamilton probably does too.


Oh, absolutely. the comparison was just hitting, which was Andy's question.
   40. Random Transaction Generator Posted: August 09, 2017 at 01:19 PM (#5509812)
From ESPN's stats twitter:

Age on date of 150th career HR:

Bryce Harper: 24 years, 295 days
Mike Trout: 24 years, 295 days
   41. dlf Posted: August 09, 2017 at 01:24 PM (#5509820)
Trout has black ink (not counting anything right of BA on the BBREF stats page, since we are talking about old timey evaluations) in runs (4 times), RBI, SB once each, and walks twice. Mantle has runs (3 times), Triples and RBI once each, HR twice, walks twice, BA once.


Of course we also have to recognize that for much of his career, Mantle was seen as not quite DiMaggio and, while great, not quite what he was expected to be. That he wasn't a monster at driving in runs was held against him and no one knew how many walks he had (and few knew how valuable those were). I suspect the same would be said if Trout was in a pre-WAR, pre-OPS+ era.

As amazing as this is to say, if Trout doesn't end up with a better career than clearly inner-circle Mantle, it would be a disappointment. In a barely integrated league and in a league of 8 teams (while not having to face the NYY pitching + defense) Mantle lead in WAR 6 times and was top 5 five other seasons. Trout, facing the entire world and in a deeper league, has already lead five times in his five full seasons.
   42. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 09, 2017 at 01:33 PM (#5509839)
Trout has black ink (not counting anything right of BA on the BBREF stats page, since we are talking about old timey evaluations) in runs (4 times), RBI, SB once each, and walks twice. Mantle has runs (3 times), Triples and RBI once each, HR twice, walks twice, BA once. But throwing in the NL (to get a comparable league size to Trout), he loses his triples and one HR black ink. So, Trout has more.

Old-timey evaluations most likely would not count walks as black ink -- no one really cared about them until the sabermetric revolution, and they were generally considered the fault of the pitcher, right? Also, for whatever reason, it seems that runs scored have never really captured the imagination. Leading the league in runs was about as prestigious as leading the league in doubles or triples, I guess.

If we're trying to figure out what old-timey fans would think based on black ink, I think we should focus on the Triple Crown categories and hits. Maybe stolen bases, depending on the era. Also, how about gray ink? I think old-timey fans implicitly paid attention to that.

If you're looking at Top 10 finishes (is that what defines "gray ink"?) Trout has 2 in hits, 2 in HR, 2 in RBI, 4 in AVG, and 3 in SB.
Mantle through age 25 had 5 in hits, 6 in HR, 6 in RBI, 4 in AVG, and 4 in SB.

Agreed that the league size makes it unfair to compare, but we're not really trying to be fair.
   43. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 09, 2017 at 01:58 PM (#5509873)
Agreed that the league size makes it unfair to compare, but we're not really trying to be fair.


Why not? If we are having a thought experiment as to how Trout would have been perceived in Mantle's time, shouldn't we afford Trout the same conditions as Mantle? In 2012, Trout was second in batting average, competing against players on 14 teams. If it's a league of 8 and Detroit isn't one of them, he has a batting title, just like Mantle. Or, if it were Mantle's time, Cabrera would still be with his original National League team and Trout would have a batting title. Or if it were Mantle's time, Cabrera would be unlikely to even be a major leaguer. In 2014, Trout tied for 3rd in the AL in HR, with a dark skinned Cuban. The two ahead of him were an African American and a dark skinned Dominican. If it were Mantle's time, Trout would have likely won the HR title.
   44. Mefisto Posted: August 09, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5509877)
The cutoffs in 38 mean Ruth and Williams don't show up, but I think reasonably could be added (Williams, e.g., was at 190 after 2650 PAs). Mays was at 157 through age 26, which is the season he passed 3000 PAs.

Just re-emphasizes the kind of company Trout is keeping.
   45. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: August 09, 2017 at 02:16 PM (#5509892)
There's only so many sub 175-hit and sub-100 RBI seasons you can put together in your prime before you dig too deep a hole.
Trout has no chance at the RBI record as long as he's primarily hitting 2nd and 3rd. Aaron, Ruth, ARod, Bonds, Gehrig, Musial - all of the big RBI guys primarily hit 3rd or 4th.
   46. Ithaca2323 Posted: August 09, 2017 at 02:29 PM (#5509907)
Trout has no chance at the RBI record as long as he's primarily hitting 2nd and 3rd. Aaron, Ruth, ARod, Bonds, Gehrig, Musial - all of the big RBI guys primarily hit 3rd or 4th.


Right, which explains the lack of big RBI seasons that I mentioned. But the hits should be helped by him hitting higher in the order, yet, he's topped out at 190.

I think the thing is, by their age 26 seasons, we'd seen Rose capable of a 210-hit season, and Aaron capable of 120, 130 RBI. Bonds of course, had yet to go full Bonds, but he may have had some, ahem, help there. Trout's just yet to put together the monster counting stat season, and he's burning some daylight.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2017 at 07:21 PM (#5510191)
Bad turn this thread has taken. The entire premise was we all know Trout is the greatest thing ever but isn't it interesting that his greatness stems from him being excellent at everything but not all-time great at anything. Followed by wondering how he would have been viewed in the pre-saber-smarty era.

To which Andy and others have responded by pointing out that he's the greatest thing ever by being a great all-around player ... which had already been stipulated at the start ... and that we need to adjust for era and context which of course was one of the main failings of the pre-saber era.

I will defend the pre-saber era a bit. People keep comping him to Mantle but really he's closer to Mays which would probably be more obvious if Mays hadn't missed nearly all of ages 21-22 to military service. Mays led the league in HR just once and BA just once through age 30, never in RBI. He led he league in steals often but generally with totals between 25 and 40. He did lead often in SLG, OPS and OPS+ -- stats we now pay a lot of attention to. He won just 1 MVP early but was top 5 almost every year. And of course he did all that while playing a great defensive CF.

And nobody, except maybe some racists and/or Yankee-lovers, had any problem recognizing Mays's greatness in the 50s. They may have debated Mays-Mantle but there wasn't a lot of doubt that those were the two.

Aaron was also a great all-arounder -- less all-around than the CFs and more obvious in the classic categories of hits, HRs and RBI -- but easily recognized as great
   48. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2017 at 07:52 PM (#5510203)
The Chrome/BBTF interaction has done strange things to me but it's never done that to me before but to continue ...

Aaron was MVP at 23, regularly top 5.

Even at more human levels, the outstanding play of a young Dawwon was recognized throughout the game. I suppose the young Banks and ARod were pretty obvious superstars but the all-around Ripken was less obvious -- although he did lead in hits in his MVP year.

Anyway, even the old dinosaurs generally recognized true all-around greatness when they saw it -- at least when they saw it at SS or CF. They weren't so good at other positions, maybe especially if the BA/hits weren't there (Grich) but I have little doubt that Trout would have been viewed as one of the very best. He just might not have been viewed as better than Miggy, better than Harper ... and that's probably about it. (Possibly Arenado but even the old farts recognized extreme park effects.) So he'd have been recognized as on a HoF track -- I just don't think he'd be considered as possibly the greatest player since at least Mays.

The big shift in response to saber is how players like Machado, Heyward, Zobrist, etc. are recognized now. Not all-time greats but players like Campaneris, Bill North, Lofton, Jose Valentin, Dwayne Murphy would have been much more publicly valued.

On the era question, I mentioned it in my earlier post. Trout is "lucky" in that era/context are widely considered now ... and we're probably much quicker about recognizing when we've shifted eras. The days of 60 HRs were long gone (and blamed on steroids) by the time he debuted so possibly he wouldn't have gotten caught out but players in transition eras seem to often get under-valued in HoF/greatness discussions. This mainly happens to SPs given that usage has been constantly changing throughout MLB history. But when I was a kid, folks still talked about 400 hitters with reverential tones, not considering that maybe a lot of those guys were a product of their era and that the reason it never happened anymore was context more than talent.

Like Fred McGriff -- who maybe doesn't belong in the HoF anyway but that guy cranked out HRs in a low-scoring era then got completely over-shadowed by sillyball. Start his career 10 years earlier and he probably gets voted in. The players and pitchers of the 80s got overshadowed by not just Aaron and Mays but McCovey and Banks and Carew and Morgan and all the stud pitchers -- maybe those 80s players didn't quite measure up, but also 500 HRs, 3000 hits, 300 wins, 3000 Ks seemed a lot harder to achieve following an era when it happened "all the time." Maybe something similar will bite somebody like Beltran whose early career overlapped with sillyball but whose power didn't arrive until after the peak craziness. (Again, there's the extra factor of steroids to be considered here -- given sillyball numbers are credited to PEDs, maybe he won't be held to those power standards.)

It remains to be seen whether saber has really changed that -- it seems to be trending in the right direction but it's not yet to the point where Bagwell or Raines had an easy time of it and Lofton, Edmonds were dismissed easily and Walker's going nowhere.
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: August 09, 2017 at 08:33 PM (#5510219)
If you threw all of those numbers into a single season, it's pretty amazing, but still doesn't quite scream "greatest seasons of all time!"


This isn't really fair though.... If you took Trout's best numbers you would have a greatest season of all time, the problem is that people are just limiting it to a few numbers.

.326/.441/.590/1.031, 129 r, 111 rbi, 49sb, 41 hr, 68 rbat(actually an understatement here, probably closer to 75 with those numbers), 21 rField, 10 rbase, 24 rrep, 3 rpos(for roughly a 12.6 war)

The comparison seasons above(post 23), ignore the 20 runs saved as a centerfielder. If Canseco had his great season and was a gold glove centerfielder that year, it would have been one of the greatest seasons of all time.
   50. cardsfanboy Posted: August 09, 2017 at 08:39 PM (#5510221)
I wonder how many active players have had even one season better than Trout's average season. Not many, I'd bet.


True not many players have a better season than Trouts average (offensively we are talking about .309/.410/.569 over 7 seasons and 3800 pa) but Trout's teammate scoffs at those numbers, his first ten years in the league we are talking about .331/.426/.624....(6700+ pa)
   51. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 09, 2017 at 08:44 PM (#5510223)
On the era question, I mentioned it in my earlier post. Trout is "lucky" in that era/context are widely considered now


Yes he is. My point in pointing his unluckyness in era was in the context of transporting his stats to Mantle's era, when those things weren't considered, and his old time stats and black ink isn't so impressive, so that he would be looked at as more Vada Pinson than Mickey Mantle. So I brought up that he is disadvantaged WRT Mantle in black ink due to Mantle having less competition, both quantitatively (having fewer players to compete with for batting, HR titles, etc), and qualitatively (Trout losing a batting title, and a HR title to players who would not have been playing in the AL of the 50's).

For sure, he is likely more appreciated today than he would have been in the past, but in the past, his raw stats and seasonal rankings would have looked much better.
   52. TomH Posted: August 09, 2017 at 09:24 PM (#5510246)
Ways like Mays and Mantle
- good at everything
- except not a huge RBI guy (well known trivia Q, how many RBI titles for Say Hey? 0)
- fewer MVP awards than "deserved" (WAR or WS or whatever your taste is)

Ways not like Mays and Mantle
- so far he's only done it for 6 yrs

He could be Eddie Mathews with a better BA (and without Aaron and Mays in the league!), or Mel Ott. Yes, that's the downside of his career; Mel Ott, who led the NL in position player WAR 5 times.
   53. cardsfanboy Posted: August 09, 2017 at 09:37 PM (#5510249)
Ways like Mays and Mantle
- good at everything
- except not a huge RBI guy (well known trivia Q, how many RBI titles for Say Hey? 0)
- fewer MVP awards than "deserved" (WAR or WS or whatever your taste is)

Ways not like Mays and Mantle
- so far he's only done it for 6 yrs

He could be Eddie Mathews with a better BA (and without Aaron and Mays in the league!), or Mel Ott. Yes, that's the downside of his career; Mel Ott, who led the NL in position player WAR 5 times.


Nobody is doubting any of that, the conversation is more about how he would have been perceived in different eras based upon what he has done so far, and the era viewpoint on the value of certain stats. Nobody is arguing he's better than Mantle, Mays or Dimaggio, just that he's played a style of baseball that maybe in past eras might have not been as well recognized.... some are pointing out that he might have been looked at like Mantle, which seems a fair comparison, I think Mays was always a bit more highly regarded even if he was an overall type of player, simply because his defense was all world, and Mantle's was not at that level.

I think some people are underestimating common perception of a certain type of players from the era. The era didn't do a good job of park adjusting reputations, but did a fairly good job of recognizing great bats at critical defensive positions, and giving bonus's to guys at those positions who were excellent defenders.
   54. Rally Posted: August 09, 2017 at 10:03 PM (#5510256)
I think Mays was always a bit more highly regarded even if he was an overall type of player, simply because his defense was all world, and Mantle's was not at that level.


Mantle is just a great comparison. Trout even kind of looks like Mantle, though a bit bigger. SI had him on the cover a few years ago, and I think it was Matt Welch who said here that Trout's hands and wrists looked like those of a 50 year old coal miner. I have no idea how a 20/21 year old modern suburban kid can get hands like that. Maybe he travelled through time and put in some work with Mickey's relatives.

I think in previous eras Trout would have been well received. Obviously nobody would have any way of knowing about OPS+ or WAR, but Trout has some other good black ink. He's led the league in runs 4 times, stolen bases once, and even RBI once. At the same age Joe DiMaggio had runs once, homers once, and 2 batting titles. He had yet to get his first RBI title. If Trout is playing in 1930s level offense his RBI total would be greater. One way or another you have to make an adjustment. Either his 111 total in 2014 becomes 161 and is therefore more impressive, or else it remains 111 and therefore he really isn't Mike Trout, he's just another guy given the big batting stats of the 1930s.

DiMaggio didnt threaten any homerun totals and while he did win 2 batting titles, he was generally behind his contemporary Ted Williams. He was still called the greatest living ballplayer at one point. If Mike Trout got the sportswriter love that DiMaggio had, he would have won the 2012 MVP award over the triple crown winning Cabrera, as DiMaggio did in 1947 over Williams.
   55. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 09, 2017 at 10:37 PM (#5510276)
Nobody is doubting any of that, the conversation is more about how he would have been perceived in different eras based upon what he has done so far, and the era viewpoint on the value of certain stats. Nobody is arguing he's better than Mantle, Mays or Dimaggio, just that he's played a style of baseball that maybe in past eras might have not been as well recognized.... some are pointing out that he might have been looked at like Mantle, which seems a fair comparison, I think Mays was always a bit more highly regarded even if he was an overall type of player, simply because his defense was all world, and Mantle's was not at that level.

IIRC Bill James expressed the generally accepted view that Mantle had the higher peak, while Mays had a more valuable career and was a better all around player, largely because of Mantle's fragile legs and knees.

I think some people are underestimating common perception of a certain type of players from the era. The era didn't do a good job of park adjusting reputations, but did a fairly good job of recognizing great bats at critical defensive positions, and giving bonus's to guys at those positions who were excellent defenders.

Well put. There was more admiration for all-around skills, and less admiration for walks.
   56. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 09, 2017 at 10:53 PM (#5510290)
Nobody is doubting any of that, the conversation is more about how he would have been perceived in different eras based upon what he has done so far, and the era viewpoint on the value of certain stats.


But again, he has a 173 OPS+. It would be highly improbable for someone to compile anything close to a 173 over a significant time frame and not be recognized as one of the all time great hitters. Mantle did it by hitting .316/207/669 through age 25. Trout is at .309/191/549 and 40 games to go. Both get a significant value from walks. Given that he would likely match Mantle in meaningful black ink with less competition, and that both had 2 MVP by age 25, it seems like that is his floor for perception.

Had he started in 1936 like DiMaggio, his stats would be better than .339/.407/.607, as that was good for only a 159 ops+.
   57. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 10, 2017 at 01:17 AM (#5510308)
This isn't really fair though.... If you took Trout's best numbers you would have a greatest season of all time, the problem is that people are just limiting it to a few numbers.

But that's actually the point of this exercise... for me, at least. Throw out the numbers that people didn't know about or care about "back then" and try to guess how Trout would be perceived.

We smart 21st-century fans with our WAR and Baseball-Reference and MLB@Bat know that he's one of the all-time greats, and we know that if someone with his abilities was sent back in time, he would adjust and do things differently and probably dominate. But that is so obvious that it just seems... obvious.

I think it's more interesting to put yourself in the mind of a regular fan from the Midwest in the pre-sabermetrics days -- let's just say from 1975, pre-Bill James. You get weekly stats (little more than the Triple Crown categories) from the newspaper. For previous year's stats, you look at baseball cards (which in 1975 list AB, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, and AVG only; R and G are added in 1976). You see Trout on TV 5 times a year if you're lucky. You care a lot about batting average but not much about walks. You know that park factors exist, but you don't think they're a big deal beyond a couple of parks being easier to hit HR in. You think hitting is more valuable than defense, except at SS and C. You think stolen bases are cool, but don't care much about other facets of baserunning, including SB success rate. You think truly great players shouldn't strike out much.

So, sure, you know Trout's a great player, but at what "level" of greatness? As pointed out above, he's never hit .300 with 30 HR and 100 RBI in the same season, though he's reached those levels separately several times. His HIGHS in those categories are .326, 41, 111, which are excellent but not unmatched. He's only been in the AL top 10 in HR and RBI two times each. He led the league in strikeouts once.

In your 1975 mind, is he as good as Nolan Arenado, the Gold Glove-winning third baseman who leads the league in HR and RBI every year? Miguel Cabrera (a few years ago) with all those batting titles and a Triple Crown? Jose Altuve, who seems to regularly lead the league in batting average, hits, and stolen bases? Young rookie phenom Aaron Judge (who is, humorously, only 9 months younger than Trout), who looks like a Triple Crown threat?

It's certainly possible that you would determine that Trout was the very best player in baseball, but I think most likely you'd just put him in a "group" with 5-10 other guys contending for the title. (I realize that the MVP voting complicates this -- if you knew that Trout won 2 MVPs and finished second 3 times, that would surely enhance your perception of him, so let's just assume that the MVP voters did not also "evolve" from a 1975 mindset and he only won MVP, finished second once, and had three more top 10 finishes.)
   58. Matt Welch Posted: August 10, 2017 at 06:06 AM (#5510319)
I think this thread is overestimating the degree to which previous eras dismissed the value of walks.
   59. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 10, 2017 at 07:28 AM (#5510331)
I think this thread is overestimating the degree to which previous eras dismissed the value of walks.

It wasn't cut and dried, but it depended on the player. Eddie Yost, the Senators' third baseman, led the AL in walks 6 times and averaged 124W/162 for his career. He quickly got the nickname "The Walking Man" and was highly valued for it, but that was because he was a leadoff man who averaged but 11 home runs a year and was expected to "set the table". "A walk is as good as a hit" was the cliche du jour---but only for certain players.

OTOH there was the longstanding knock against Ted Williams for accepting walks in every situation, even in late inning close games with runners in scoring position. It wasn't fair, but his refusal to stretch the strike zone in those circumstances was looked upon as "selfishness" by many of the writers of the time, and even by some of the players. But then Williams batted 3rd or 4th in the lineup, and driving in runs, not walking, was said to be his assigned "role".
   60. Matt Welch Posted: August 10, 2017 at 07:37 AM (#5510333)
Just going .280/.375/.500 w/ 20 SBs through 2000 PAs (Trout's at .309/.410/.569 w/ 156 in 3864) gets you only 27 other players since 1901, most of them inner-circle Hall of Famers and/or definitely not underrated in their time. Sort 'em by WAA (which Trout leads in already with 40.6, not having finished age 25), and the first qualifying non-Shoeless Joe guy to not make the HoF is Dick Allen at #15 (18.8 WAA).

Charlie Keller (.301/.421/.526, 34 SBs, only one bit of black ink, for walks) is a pretty good comp for the purposes of this exercise, but I don't know if he was underrated for his time -- 2 All-Star games and 3 MVP-vote appearances (5th, 14th, 22nd) in his first 4 years, 5 HRs & 16 RBIs across 3 World Series. Batting 3rd or 5th for the best team in baseball tends to get you noticed; it's possible that later generations forgot about him more, due to the war time missed & steep dropoff at 30.

Of the non-no-brainer-Hall-of-Famers on the list, David Wright (.309/.389/.533, 92 SBs) was not a black-inker through 25, but I don't think was underrated (3 AS games, 4 MVP finishes). He was on a HoF track until the injuries. Goose Goslin (two 3Bs crowns & 1 RBI, Glory of Their Times selection) I don't believe was underrated, having starred in consecutive WS at 23 and 24. Hanley Ramirez (.316/.386/.531, 164 SBs) got a lot of love the first half of his 20s despite the inconsistent defense & attitude. Will Clark's whole career may be underrated, but he was a top 5 MVP finisher in 3 of his first 4 years. Scott Rolen WAS, I think, underrated, especially in his black-inkless early 20s, but he also wasn't particularly close to Trout's level (.284/.375/.511, 125 OPS+ compared to Trout's 173).

Which I think gets closer to the spirit of the inquiry -- Trout's level is just too high to have ever escaped notice and praise, I think. Where the broad-based talents *really* begin to suffer from insufficient appreciation is probably down closer to the 120-140 OPS+ level, particularly though not only if you played 3B or 2B, and either at a pitcher's park or in a pitcher's era or both.

Oh, there WAS one total rando in my search string: Don Hurst! Must be a good story there.





   61. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 10, 2017 at 01:24 PM (#5510561)
It wasn't cut and dried, but it depended on the player. Eddie Yost, the Senators' third baseman, led the AL in walks 6 times and averaged 124W/162 for his career. He quickly got the nickname "The Walking Man" and was highly valued for it

Was he? I'm not old enough to remember him as a player, but I see he only got MVP votes in three seasons (best finish: 20th place), and unless I'm reading BB-Ref wrong he never even appeared on a HOF ballot.
   62. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 01:56 PM (#5510600)
DiMaggio ... was still called the greatest living ballplayer at one point.

Wasn't that a contractual obligation on whomever was paying for JoeD to make a public appearance to introduce him as such?
   63. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 10, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5510622)
It wasn't cut and dried, but it depended on the player. Eddie Yost, the Senators' third baseman, led the AL in walks 6 times and averaged 124W/162 for his career. He quickly got the nickname "The Walking Man" and was highly valued for it.

Was he? I'm not old enough to remember him as a player, but I see he only got MVP votes in three seasons (best finish: 20th place), and unless I'm reading BB-Ref wrong he never even appeared on a HOF ballot.


Walks weren't regarded on the same level as hits, Yost's career BA was only .254, and during his best years he played on teams with records that ranged from 78-76 to 53-101, and nearly always finished in the bottom three positions in the league. Players on teams like that seldom gather much MVP support unless they put up great numbers in the traditional Big Three batting categories.** But he had a long and well above average career, and trust me, his value was noticed around the league, largely because of his walking ability.

** He almost never hit for average, for the first 10 years of his career he faced the deepest LF territory in the Majors, and leading off for the Senators his RBI opportunities were few and far between. He did, however, average 93 runs a season, and hit the century mark five times. You may have had to have seen those Nats teams in action to appreciate how remarkable an achievement that was.
   64. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 10, 2017 at 02:12 PM (#5510629)
DiMaggio ... was still called the greatest living ballplayer at one point.

Wasn't that a contractual obligation on whomever was paying for JoeD to make a public appearance to introduce him as such?

Yes, but the honor itself was based on a 1969 vote taken by sportswriters in conjunction with baseball's centennial celebration. It wasn't something that DiMaggio just pulled out of thin air.
   65. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 10, 2017 at 03:36 PM (#5510719)
My point about bringing up context was less about parks and more about era. Sure, Mike Trout would have been a bit overlooked if he had only hit 25-30 HR per year in the late 90s, but it's likely he would have hit a lot more if he were playing at that time.

The main thing that it seems that writers overvalued BITD was playing for a winning team. Williams won the MVP in 1946 when the Red Sox won the pennant and the Yankees came in third. The following year, he put up nearly an identical season but finished second in the voting to DiMaggio. Coincidentally, their teams' respective spots in the standings had flipped as well.
   66. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:49 PM (#5510846)
The main thing that it seems that writers overvalued BITD was playing for a winning team. Williams won the MVP in 1946 when the Red Sox won the pennant and the Yankees came in third. The following year, he put up nearly an identical season but finished second in the voting to DiMaggio. Coincidentally, their teams' respective spots in the standings had flipped as well.

Let's say that BITD begins with the first "modern" MVP award in 1931 and ends with the last year (1968) before divisional play.

In those years, with the exception of 1933, 1952, 1958 and 1964, every American League MVP winner played either for a pennant winner or for a team that finished second. In 1933, Jimmie Foxx won the Triple Crown for the third place A'. In 1952, Bobby Shantz won 24 games for the 4th place A's, and in 1964 Brooks Robinson played for the 3rd place Orioles, who finished but 2 GB the pennant winning Yankees. Only in 1958 (Jackie Jensen of the third place Red Sox) was there a winner who didn't either play for a contender or compile exceptional numbers----Jensen was 9th in WAR, but he led the league in RBI, in great part because he was batting two spots behind Ted Williams in the Red Sox lineup.

The National League results aren't quite as topheavy, but members of pennant winning teams still won 27 of the 38 MVP awards during that same stretch. It did, however, have 3 winners from Cubs' teams that finished in the second division. The AL had none.
   67. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 10, 2017 at 05:58 PM (#5510850)
It did, however, have 3 winners from Cubs' teams that finished in the second division. The AL had none.


The Cubs were truly groundbreakers. they had the first ever MVP from a non-winning team (Sauer, for a 77-77 club), the first ever MVP from an actual losing team (Banks), and the first ever MVP from a last place team (Dawson).
   68. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 10, 2017 at 08:34 PM (#5510950)
The Cubs were truly groundbreakers. they had the first ever MVP from a non-winning team (Sauer, for a 77-77 club)

Sauer's MVP was roundly derided at the time, and it's hard to defend with either traditional or sabermetric arguments. He led the league in homers and RBI, but hit only .270, and only .248 with 14 homers after the All-Star game. Meanwhile, Robin Roberts put up a league leading 330 IP, went 28-7 and was 6-0 against the pennant winning Dodgers, with a 2.67 ERA. And while Sauer had but 5.7 WAR and 3.2 WAA, Roberts had 8.3 WAR and 5.2 WAA.
   69. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 11, 2017 at 12:56 AM (#5511086)
Trout even kind of looks like Mantle, though a bit bigger. SI had him on the cover a few years ago, and I think it was Matt Welch who said here that Trout's hands and wrists looked like those of a 50 year old coal miner.

Trout seems a LOT more like Mantle than Mays to me, mainly because of the body type resemblance. Mantle had a bit more raw power, but Trout is a notch better defensively. Otherwise, they're virtual clones. Both even struggled in their first Show trial at age 19, came back raking at age 20, and kept it up.

I'm actually concerned that Trout, like Mantle, will have trouble holding up physically into his 30's - even with sobriety and modern surgical techniques on his side.
   70. kthejoker Posted: August 23, 2017 at 03:04 PM (#5519551)
He is 5th among active players in batting average, just behind Ichiro. And even without a Gold Glove, I'm comfortable saying he's been a Gold Glove level defender his entire career. He does have some traditional bona fides. And if he keeps up his rock-steady per-162 rates for 10 years, he'll be #1 in TB among through-age-35 careers, and top 5 in homers, doubles, top 10 in hits, walks ... he'll have plenty of stats.

And assuming his batting eye is an old man skill, there's no reason to think he can't DH till 40 and take good strong shots at 700 homers, 3500 hits, etc.

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