Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout Already a Hall of Famer?
With Hall of Fame induction day fast approaching, we are left wondering who among active players will reach that point one day. Mike Trout, of the Los Angeles Angels, seems to be the one sure case.
Getting to the Hall of Fame is a goal for almost every single player that steps on a Major League Baseball field. It’s the ultimate goal that even awards like MVP, Silver Slugger, Cy Young, or Gold Glove can compare to. Reaching the Hall of Fame means that you were one of the best players to ever play the game. When parsing out which current major leaguers will find their way to Cooperstown it becomes a bit difficult. A player like Clayton Kershaw seems like a lock now, but with the way voters have picked at pitchers that may not even be the case. One player that will almost certainly be enshrined in Cooperstown is Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.
It’s easy to forget that Mike Trout is just 25 years old, because he’s already won two MVP awards and finished 2nd every single other year of his career. Trout would have to play just another five major league seasons to be Hall of Fame eligible. There’s also reason to believe that he’ll continue to get better over the next five years as he truly begins to enter his prime.
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Based even on the lowest Hall of Fame standards, Trout would make it into the Hall of Fame without ever getting better. The average fWAR on a Mike Trout season is 9.4. If he continued at that pace, he would have accumulated 94.2 fWAR during just a ten year MLB career. That would put him at 24th all-time, sandwiched between two Hall of Famers in Carl Yastrzemski and Cal Ripken Jr.
It’s conceivable that if Trout plays into his late 30s that he could reach the top 10 in fWAR. He would need 126.8 WAR. Starting from his current amount, that is an average of just 5.3 WAR if he plays until age 40. Even if he only plays into his age 35 season, Trout would need just 7.97 WAR per season on average. That is just a hair above his lowest career mark (7.9).
Naturally, WAR is not the end all be all in Hall of Fame voting. It will almost certainly be more improved and more heavily used by time Trout enters Hall of Fame candidacy, but writers who disagree with WAR will certainly still exist. For them, Mike Trout has also built a great Hall of Fame case.
Trout already has 168 home runs, 497 RBI, and a career slash line of .306/.405/.557. It’s not unreasonable to expect him to hit both 3,000 hits and 600 home runs over the course of the rest of his career based on current averages. That would put him in a group that only includes Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, and Hank Aaron. Sure thing Hall of Famer so long as he avoids the same types of scandals that A-Rod has had.
It’s almost a guarantee that if Trout reached the minimum 10 years played that he would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. There would be at least one person that wouldn’t vote for him, a la Ken Griffey Jr., no doubt. However, he would easily see percentages rise above 90% in his first year on the ballot.
The bigger question is that, if Mike Trout were to be eligible now and retire now, would he be a Hall of Famer? He certainly has a good argument. Switching over to bWAR because of convenience in comparisons to Hall of Famers (the difference among the two isn’t too wide over a career length), Mike Trout has accumulated 48.5 WAR. That puts him just behind Nellie Foxx (49.0) and above both Jim Rice (47.4) and Lou Brock (45.2).
His home run total isn’t on par with most sluggers, but it’s certainly high enough at 168 to get him into the hall. Another great thing Trout has in his favor is his current career slash line of .306/.405/.557 that was mentioned above. The general guideline of a sure-thing Hall of Famer is a slash line around .300/.400/.600. That’s the perfect hitter. Trout is basically there right now.
In the end, the 10 year rule makes sense in terms of Hall of Fame eligibility. A player can’t make the Hall of Fame if they’re just a flash in the pan. Sustained success is more important than a short window of being really good. It’s the same reason that Sammy Sosa hasn’t gained Hall of Fame traction despite both Clemens and Bonds gaining support with each year. Mike Trout if he retired today would probably reach the Hall of Fame, but there’s a reason he wouldn’t actually be able to.
The more fun thing to consider is where Trout can go from here. If he simply stays the same player he’s been, he’ll be one of the best players of all-time. If he continues to get better, he will see him rise on the list of all-time greats. In the wake of a Ken Griffey Jr. election to the Hall of Fame we have found the next great centerfielder. It was Mays, it was Mantle, it was Griffey Jr, and now it is Mike Trout. We should enjoy that for the time being and worry about him getting 100% of Hall of Fame votes in 20 years or so.
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