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Saturday, December 07, 2019

Numbers Suggest Mike Trout’s Best Days Are Already Behind Him

Why? Well, as with seemingly everything else in baseball these days, all roads lead to launch angle.

Once you place among the 10 highest average launch angles in either league (among the top 250 or so in batted balls), you’re asking for trouble. Virtually every player meeting that criteria since 2016 has declined or disappeared in pretty short order. You see, extremely high average launch angle is an “old player” characteristic.

Mikey, we hardly knew ye.

eric Posted: December 07, 2019 at 12:45 PM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mike trout, sabermetrics

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   1. base ball chick Posted: December 07, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5906556)
so mister author,

you are SERIOUSLY comparing mike trout to the brandon belts, chris carters and logan morrisons of the baseball world?

pls
   2. alilisd Posted: December 07, 2019 at 02:17 PM (#5906590)
Ah noted baseball experts Forbes
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: December 07, 2019 at 02:52 PM (#5906595)
Hey, that was written by Tony Blengino, the closest thing baseball's seen to a Bond villian. He's a Super Genius.

   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 07, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5906596)
While I agree with Lisa that the "metrics" presented in the article border on the ludicrous, one could argue that the headline may be correct only in the sense that Trout just completed his age 27 season. Trout has the most WAR thru age 27 (72.5) in MLB history. #2 thru 6 on that list are Cobb, Mantle, Hornsby, ARod, and Foxx. None of those players suffered any significant decline in performance in their next 5 seasons--though The Mick & Foxx were essentially finished after their age 32 season (probably for the same reason). ARod didn't do much after age 32 either.

So we have at least 5 more years of "Mike Trout"
   5. bbmck Posted: December 07, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5906600)
In the integration era, 1+ position player WAR per 75 PA is 109 seasons by 65 players including one each by Steve Pearce, Randy Ready and Hubie Brooks.

Age 20: Alex Rodriguez, Mike Trout
Age 21: none
Age 22: Rickey Henderson, Jim Fregosi, Bryce Harper
Age 23: 6 players
Age 24: 7 players

Age 25: 6 players
Age 26: 10 players
Age 27: 12 players including Mike Trout for the 5th time
Age 28: 10 players
Age 29: 13 players including Mickey Mantle for the 4th and final time

Age 30: 10 players
Age 31: 8 players including Barry Bonds for the 4th time
Age 32: 8 players including Joe Morgan for the 4th and final time
Age 33: Roberto Clemente (2nd), Lonnie Smith (1st), Willie Mays (7th)
Age 34: Joe DiMaggio (3rd time in entire career), Willie Mays (8th)

Age 35: Ted Williams (5th time in entire career), Willie Mays (9th)
Age 36: Ted Williams (6th), Chipper Jones (1st), Barry Bonds (5th)
Age 37: Barry Bonds (6th)
Age 38: Barry Bonds (7th), Ted Williams (7th)
Age 39: Barry Bonds (8th)

The fewest PA per WAR, minimum 2000 PA:

1947-51: Ted Williams 81.6
1948-52: Stan Musial 76.7
1949-53: Jackie Robinson 75.3
1950-54: Jackie Robinson 80.9
1951-55: Jackie Robinson 86.5

1952-56: Willie Mays 73.9
1953-57: Ted Williams 64.9
1954-58: Mickey Mantle 67.4
1955-59: Mickey Mantle 67.7
1956-60: Mickey Mantle 72.7

1957-61: Mickey Mantle 73.9
1958-62: Willie Mays 72.1
1959-63: Willie Mays 71.2
1960-64: Willie Mays 67.0
1961-65: Willie Mays 64.1

1962-66: Willie Mays 63.3
1963-67: Willie Mays 68.1
1964-68: Willie Mays 72.9
1965-69: Roberto Clemente 77.7
1966-70: Roberto Clemente 76.2

1967-71: Roberto Clemente 74.6
1968-72: Roberto Clemente 77.2
1969-73: Reggie Jackson 97.0
1970-74: Bobby Grich 91.8
1971-75: Joe Morgan 76.4

1972-76: Joe Morgan 68.1
1973-77: Joe Morgan 72.7
1974-78: Mike Schmidt 82.9
1975-79: Mike Schmidt 86.2
1976-80: George Brett 80.7

1977-81: Mike Schmidt 77.1
1978-82: Mike Schmidt 79.0
1979-83: Mike Schmidt 79.1
1980-84: Mike Schmidt 79.8
1981-85: Rickey Henderson 83.5

1982-86: Rickey Henderson 90.0
1983-87: Rickey Henderson 88.9
1984-88: Wade Boggs 89.1
1985-89: Wade Boggs 84.8
1986-90: Rickey Henderson 84.9

1987-91: Barry Bonds 83.6
1988-92: Barry Bonds 77.1
1989-93: Barry Bonds 72.0
1990-94: Barry Bonds 70.3
1991-95: Barry Bonds 74.4

1992-96: Barry Bonds 72.4
1993-97: Ken Griffey Jr 75.1
1994-98: Barry Bonds 79.9
1995-99: Barry Bonds 83.9
1996-00: Barry Bonds 82.7

1997-01: Barry Bonds 77.9
1998-02: Barry Bonds 69.6
1999-03: Barry Bonds 64.7
2000-04: Barry Bonds 59.6
2001-05: Barry Bonds 56.7

2002-06: Barry Bonds 64.2
2003-07: Barry Bonds 78.7
2004-08: Albert Pujols 77.3
2005-09: Albert Pujols 75.2
2006-10: Albert Pujols 76.8

2007-11: Albert Pujols 83.2
2008-12: Chase Utley 90.7
2009-13: Evan Longoria 93.6
2010-14: Mike Trout 79.2
2011-15: Mike Trout 77.8

2012-16: Mike Trout 72.8
2013-17: Mike Trout 76.4
2014-18: Mike Trout 72.0
2015-19: Mike Trout 68.6
   6. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 07, 2019 at 04:02 PM (#5906609)
Mike Trout’s Best Days Are Already Behind Him
The Angels better trade him for whatever they can get, eh? Won’t be easy with that big contract, but if they absorb some of the cost, they might find a taker.
   7. bobm Posted: December 07, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5906612)
Those players who are most exceptional are also, of course, those players whose skills mature at an early age.    The rules which govern exceptional players are not the same as those which govern ordinary players.


From "Player Skills Age" By Bill James
   8. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 07, 2019 at 05:01 PM (#5906625)
I think the conclusion at least is more likely correct than not. Trout probably won't continue to be a 10+ WAR player for another decade. But Mike Trout a bit off of his peak is still a great player.
   9. alilisd Posted: December 07, 2019 at 05:15 PM (#5906627)
4: While I’m sure that’s accurate, I think there are two players who have to also be considered in that discussion, possibly three. Ruth’s pitching WAR need to be added to his position WAR, which probably puts him first or second, which is appropriate. Ted Williams needs some War credit added to his WAR, which is not as straightforward as Ruth’s adjustment, but is appropriate and gets him onto the list. Mays may also be in the picture with some military service credit, but he really stakes his claim to All Time Great in his 30’s while also being great in his 20’s
   10. alilisd Posted: December 07, 2019 at 05:36 PM (#5906629)
8: With health he has the best chance to continue to put up 10 WAR seasons in his 30’s of anyone since Mays. It’s extraordinarily rare for anyone to put up 10 WAR at any time in their career, but even more rare, obviously, as players age. Take away Ruth and a drug fueled Bonds, and we’re left with Hornsby, Mays and Wagner as the only ones to do it more than once. Working against him is health as he’s missed time in each of the past three seasons, but working for him is he still had the talent to put up 10 WAR in one of those last three injury shortened seasons, and to do so three times in eight seasons (taking the numbers at strictly face value). Obviously he’s more likely not to ever do it again, but barring a significant injury I like his chances to do it a few more times before he’s done
   11. Mefisto Posted: December 07, 2019 at 05:36 PM (#5906630)
@9: It's also an artifact of birthdates. Mays was born just 3 months earlier in the year than Trout, but because BBREF uses a July 31 cutoff, Mays completed his "age 27 season" an entire year earlier, relatively speaking.
   12. Rally Posted: December 07, 2019 at 05:40 PM (#5906631)
Hopefully, for his sake, he can experience greater team success as his personal star is on the wane. A big reason for that will be one of his teammates, who is likely to soon surpass him as the most valuable member of his club. More on him later this week.


Really? I’m not sure who he’s talking about

1. He expects Ohtani to play a full season, win 20, strike out 300, and hit 30 homers
2. He’s insanely optimistic on top prospect Jo Adell
3. Angels are about to sign Cole
4. Pujols will find fountain of youth and be even better than his best years in STL
   13. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 07, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5906633)
Mays may also be in the picture with some military service credit, but he really stakes his claim to All Time Great in his 30’s while also being great in his 20’s

yes, if you give him WAR in 1952-53 commensurate with the way be performed immediately before and after, he would be #3 or 4 by age 27, and Teddy Ballgame would likely be #1
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 07, 2019 at 06:23 PM (#5906639)

Ah noted baseball experts Forbes


Blengino was an Assistant GM with the Mariners from 2009 to 2013 so I think he knows a thing or two about declining players!
   15. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: December 07, 2019 at 06:28 PM (#5906642)
I suspect the headline is right but that’s more a tribute to how great he’s been to this point than indicating some kind of massive decline or cause for concern.
   16. Rally Posted: December 07, 2019 at 06:58 PM (#5906645)
To my list in I should add

5) Maybe Blengino thinks the Angels will trade for 1 year of Mookie. Then again, I wouldn’t expect Mookie to be better than Trout in 2020 specifically, and if Trout is heading for decline, we’ll, Mookie is only 1 year younger than him.
   17. Rally Posted: December 07, 2019 at 07:13 PM (#5906648)
I don’t know what Tony means by “soon”. It is inevitable that some day Mike Trout will not be the most valuable Angel, for the same reason that Willie Mays was not the most valuable Giant in 1980. But whoever surpasses him, in my estimation, is likely not currently an Angel, or even in the Angel organization.
   18. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: December 07, 2019 at 08:18 PM (#5906666)
Ah noted baseball experts Forbes
Blengino was an Assistant GM with the Mariners from 2009 to 2013 so I think he knows a thing or two about declining players!
I've been laughing at this comment for hours.
   19. Jack Sommers Posted: December 07, 2019 at 08:18 PM (#5906667)
Mike Trout games missed the last 3 years

2017-48
2018-22
2019-28

Avg- 33

This stuff takes a toll.

For the next 4 season, I would set the over/under on Trouts WAR at 24.5
   20. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: December 07, 2019 at 08:43 PM (#5906675)
1. He expects Ohtani to play a full season, win 20, strike out 300, and hit 30 homers
2. He’s insanely optimistic on top prospect Jo Adell
3. Angels are about to sign Cole
4. Pujols will find fountain of youth and be even better than his best years in STL


Probably #2. Here's a fluff piece on predicting the players of the next decade. Trout is on it, but as a LF, because Adell is the CF:
   21. Lars6788 Posted: December 07, 2019 at 09:05 PM (#5906682)
It seems like the story is basing Trout’s decline on how far he hits the ball and how that may not be sustainable.

On the other hand, I don’t think Trout’s approach has ever drastically changed - he seems to have worked hard to eliminate the holes in his swing and while might hit 40 home runs - he never seems to be a hitter that has ‘sold out’ just to hit home runs.
   22. bbmck Posted: December 07, 2019 at 09:07 PM (#5906684)
[19] Debut since Lou Boudreau in 1938, Mike Trout's position player WAR:

Through 21: 1st
19-22: 1st
20-23: 1st
21-24: 1st

22-25: 2nd
23-26: 2nd
24-27: 3rd
25-28: T29th if he sits out 2020

If he has 24.5 at Age 28-31 he would be 32nd, pretty close to the same as sitting out next year. He would need the steep decline of Mickey Mantle 25.6 the leader the first 3 spans it's not Trout and then begins his decline "only" 7th for Age 25-28. Ernie Banks 25.4 starts 28-31 with 10.2 WAR and MVP and drops to 15.5 WAR for 29-32. Assuming Trout can keep hitting: Jim Thome 22.3 WAR, 159 OPS+ and 2570 PA and Reggie Jackson 22.2, 152 and 2437 if Trout loses most of his non-hitting value and averages a little over 600 PA per season. Joey Votto 22.1, 163 and 2168 and Jose Bautista 22, 152 and 2141 at around 550 PA if Trout remains a plus corner OF or 1B.
   23. Itchy Row Posted: December 07, 2019 at 09:13 PM (#5906688)
Also, Little Billy, Santa is a lie and you’ll die some day!
   24. bbmck Posted: December 07, 2019 at 09:57 PM (#5906696)
A possible best 2019 team and the closest to 2009 info on them available at The Baseball Cube

C: JT Realmuto, in 2010 has .473 OPS in the Gulf Coast League
1B: Cody Bellinger, in 2007 was playing in the Little League World Series
2B: Jose Altuve, in 2009 has .838 OPS between Appalachian and NY-Penn Leagues
3B: Alex Bregman, in 2013 has .963 OPS at LSU
SS: Francisco Lindor, in 2011 has .666 OPS in NY-Penn League

CF: Mike Trout, in 2009 has .905 OPS between Arizona and Midwest Leagues
RF: Mookie Betts, in 2011 has 1.000 OPS in his one game in Gulf Coast League
LF: Christian Yelich, in 2010 has .868 OPS between Gulf Coast and South Atlantic Leagues
DH: Aaron Judge, in 2011 has .902 OPS at Fresno State

SP: Max Scherzer, in 2009 has 170 IP, 4.12 ERA, 3.69 FIP in MLB
SP: Jacob deGrom, in 2009 pitches one inning as a Sophmore at Stetson
SP: Justin Verlander, in 2009 has 240 IP, 3.45 ERA, 2.73 FIP in MLB
SP: Gerrit Cole, in 2009 has 85 IP, 3.49 ERA at UCLA

RP: Josh Hader, in 2012 has 28.2 IP, 1.88 ERA between Gulf Coast and NY-Penn Leagues
RP: Felipe Vasquez, in 2011 has 60 IP, 4.62 ERA in the Appalachian League
RP: Roberto Osuna, in 2012 has 24 IP, 1.50 ERA in the Appalachian League

Altuve two years removed from his $15k signing bonus might be picked, he is team MVP, an all-star and 19. Verlander is 3 years older than Felix Hernandez, 1.5 years older than Tim Lincecum and probably doesn't make the team over high draft picks like Stephen Strasburg and Matt Hobgood. Trout probably hasn't elevated himself past all the CF drafted ahead of him yet: Dustin Ackley, Donavan Tate, AJ Pollock and Jared Mitchell. None of the other players have any chance to be named 10 years ago.
   25. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: December 07, 2019 at 10:42 PM (#5906708)
For the next 4 season, I would set the over/under on Trouts WAR at 24.5


I sure wish B-R still did player sponsorships! The Monkey projects Trout to hit 293/429/617 in 561 PA next year. Marcel must really be worried about 2017, because that was the only year in which he's had that few PA. In terms of performance the season closest is probably 2015 in which he hit 402/590. We'll use that to project next year's WAR, but note that both marks are below his projected performance. That was over 681 PA, so let's adjusted his WAR proportionally. *does division and multiplication *

That would give him 7.7 WAR next year, although we should actually expect more than that since 429/617 > 402/590. Call it 8ish, but that difference may well be worth more than 0.3 WAR. Assume that he starts declining immediately at the standard 0.5 WAR/year. That's 7.5 in 2021, 7 in 2022, and 6.5 in 2023. That's 29 WAR right there. And Marcel will probably expect more playing time from him as 2017 slips into the review mirror, so his projected WAR will be even higher than that.
   26. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: December 07, 2019 at 10:43 PM (#5906710)
Oh, also, for as much as I (and everyone else) loves Mike Trout. There's this:

1987-91: Barry Bonds 83.6
1988-92: Barry Bonds 77.1
1989-93: Barry Bonds 72.0
1990-94: Barry Bonds 70.3
1991-95: Barry Bonds 74.4

1992-96: Barry Bonds 72.4
1993-97: Ken Griffey Jr 75.1
1994-98: Barry Bonds 79.9
1995-99: Barry Bonds 83.9
1996-00: Barry Bonds 82.7

1997-01: Barry Bonds 77.9
1998-02: Barry Bonds 69.6
1999-03: Barry Bonds 64.7
2000-04: Barry Bonds 59.6
2001-05: Barry Bonds 56.7

2002-06: Barry Bonds 64.2
2003-07: Barry Bonds 78.7


Good Lord. That's his entire career.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: December 08, 2019 at 06:42 AM (#5906748)
Back before the 2015 season, Blengino predicted Brian Dozier could not sustain because he had a massive pull tendency. Dozier was of course never a great player and a late bloomer but put up 13 WAR over the next 3 seasons. It's not public access, but based on a google search, Blengino seems to have predicted another collapse for Dozier before the 2017 season for ESPN and that year he put up 4.4 WAR. He has declined for 2018-19 so eventually he was right.

Anyway, betting that Trout will decline from 10 WAR is a pretty safe bet. Either that or he's the greatest player in history (definitely possible). Predicting he's about to decline to a level where he'll be the 2nd-best player on his team is a much bigger stretch. I can't see any reason to think Trout would be expected to be worse over the next 7-8 years than, say, Frank Robinson (45 WAR) or Bagwell (48 WAR). We don't have enough years of data on launch angle to know what any of it means.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: December 08, 2019 at 07:57 AM (#5906753)
Blengino's work for Fangraphs was always awful. I imagine they employed him just for the gossip on the Mariners FO.
   29. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: December 08, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5906771)
Ahhh, Trout wuz always a bum. How many World Series did he win, huh?!
   30. alilisd Posted: December 08, 2019 at 11:57 AM (#5906803)
11: Thanks mefisto. I knew they did that with birth dates but hadn’t noticed it specific to Mays
   31. alilisd Posted: December 08, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5906805)
14, 18: Yes, that was stellar!
   32. alilisd Posted: December 08, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5906806)
I’ll take the over
   33. alilisd Posted: December 08, 2019 at 12:07 PM (#5906809)
I really, really hope we get to see a full, healthy season of Ohtani pitching and DH-ing! That would be awesome !!
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 08, 2019 at 12:13 PM (#5906810)
RP: Josh Hader, in 2012 has 28.2 IP, 1.88 ERA between Gulf Coast and NY-Penn Leagues
RP: Felipe Vasquez, in 2011 has 60 IP, 4.62 ERA in the Appalachian League
RP: Roberto Osuna, in 2012 has 24 IP, 1.50 ERA in the Appalachian League
Is there something about being a sh!tty human being that makes you a better relief pitcher?
   35. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: December 08, 2019 at 12:34 PM (#5906818)
34 - I think there is a case to be made for it. Relievers are dealing with high pressure situations and need to have short memories. It seems like a role suited to the flaming narcissist in a way that maybe other roles wouldn’t (doesn’t explain Rivera who by all accounts is a super guy of course).

I’ve always felt that generally to be elite in any profession you need to be a bit of a bastard (or a ##### I suppose). To reach the pinnacle you simply need to have a willingness to step over anyone and anything in your path. It is possible to be someone who does that while still being a decent person but I think if you look at history both in and out of sports that tends to be the exception rather than the rule.
   36. Rally Posted: December 08, 2019 at 12:44 PM (#5906819)
From what I gather, Lee Smith and Trever Hoffman were fine people too.
   37. alilisd Posted: December 08, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5906852)
Hoffman is extremely well thought of by San Diego fans, press and the Padres organization. When you hear about his family growing up it seems reasonable to believe he is a good guy
   38. Jack Sommers Posted: December 08, 2019 at 07:49 PM (#5906876)
Ziggy, so your over under would be set at 29 then ?

   39. base ball chick Posted: December 08, 2019 at 10:52 PM (#5906939)
1987-91: Barry Bonds 83.6
1988-92: Barry Bonds 77.1
1989-93: Barry Bonds 72.0
1990-94: Barry Bonds 70.3
1991-95: Barry Bonds 74.4

1992-96: Barry Bonds 72.4
1993-97: Ken Griffey Jr 75.1
1994-98: Barry Bonds 79.9
1995-99: Barry Bonds 83.9
1996-00: Barry Bonds 82.7

1997-01: Barry Bonds 77.9
1998-02: Barry Bonds 69.6
1999-03: Barry Bonds 64.7
2000-04: Barry Bonds 59.6
2001-05: Barry Bonds 56.7

2002-06: Barry Bonds 64.2
2003-07: Barry Bonds 78.7


goodness gracious

so you are like implicating that barry bonds was actually a good player from basically the time he started playing mlb???!!!

and actuaryally better during the time he is not accursed of daring drugs?

why from the way some folks talk youda thunk he was hardly milktoast turned into sampson or something the second he started shooting up
   40. Howie Menckel Posted: December 08, 2019 at 11:35 PM (#5906947)
RP: Josh Hader, in 2012 has 28.2 IP, 1.88 ERA between Gulf Coast and NY-Penn Leagues
RP: Felipe Vasquez, in 2011 has 60 IP, 4.62 ERA in the Appalachian League
RP: Roberto Osuna, in 2012 has 24 IP, 1.50 ERA in the Appalachian League

Is there something about being a sh!tty human being that makes you a better relief pitcher?

um, which of these is not like the others?

holy crap. talk about quantum leaps of offenses - and of ages when they occur.
Hader was a moron in high school on social media.
   41. eric Posted: December 09, 2019 at 12:14 AM (#5906954)
and actuaryally better during the time he is not accursed of daring drugs?


For that metric, the lower number is better. So late-career Barry is rated as significantly better than typical-prime-age Barry.
   42. TomH Posted: December 09, 2019 at 07:08 AM (#5906966)
Yes, 39 and 41, to sum it up:
1) Barry Bonds was the best player in MLB, not by a small amount, thru the end of the 20th century, and his exclusion from the all-century team and "player of the 90s decade", passed over by Ken Griffey, is silly
2) He got even better in his late career, making him by value metrics having at least an argument for having the greatest MLB career ever. This incredible stretch was almost certainly helped by illegal substances, use of which he has covered up but very few believe him, so the debate is whether he should be rewarded for his statistical greatness by proclaiming he deserves to now be called the-best-whatever.
   43. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: December 09, 2019 at 07:50 AM (#5906969)
the debate is whether he should be rewarded for his statistical greatness by proclaiming he deserves to now be called the-best-whatever.
Through age 34, Bonds' career looks more or less "normal" for an inner-inner circle Hall of Fame guy. He's 10th in career WAR through age 34, in a virtual tie with #9 Mantle, just behind Speaker and just ahead of Musial. I'm comfortable viewing him in that territory, somewhere in the little group that's behind Ruth, Mays, and Cobb as best outfielders ever. Though in the end it's an unanswerable question, of course.
   44. Mefisto Posted: December 09, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5907003)
Through age 34, Bonds' career looks more or less "normal" for an inner-inner circle Hall of Fame guy. He's 10th in career WAR through age 34, in a virtual tie with #9 Mantle, just behind Speaker and just ahead of Musial. I'm comfortable viewing him in that territory, somewhere in the little group that's behind Ruth, Mays, and Cobb as best outfielders ever. Though in the end it's an unanswerable question, of course.


He's probably better than that (not going to look it up because your basic point is correct). Since BBREF uses a July 31 cutoff for seasonal ages, and since Bonds was born on July 24, his "seasonal age" will always make him look a year older than lots of players who are actually the same relative age as Bonds. For example, Mike Trout was born on August 7, so he'll have a "seasonal age" of 34 during the year when he actually turns 35 just 14 days later than Bonds. And Mantle, born October 20, is in pretty much the same situation as Trout when compared to Bonds (three months of age is relatively insignificant at the age of 35).

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