Not being the best makes Mike Trout the best

Mike Trout may not be the best at anyone statistic, but he might be the best all-around player.
Lisa Blumenfield/Getty Images

By Scott Allen

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. You could be the biggest Detroit Tigers homer fan and Miguel Cabrera’s biggest supporter, and it’d still be simple to admit Mike Trout is the most complete, best player in Major League Baseball. That’s not remotely interesting news at all. But what is interesting, is studying why Mike Trout is the best player in baseball.

Is Mike Trout the fastest player in baseball?

The short answer is no. But, there is all different sorts of speed. The type that goes from home to first, first to second, second to home, or even the type that chases balls into the gaps. It’s highly likely that overall, Billy Hamilton or Dee Gordon are the fastest players in baseball. But Trout’s shown more range in the outfield than anyone today, he’s recorded times home-to-first faster than anyone, and at full speed, rivals anyone in the game. To his credit, Trout still has a stolen base title from his rookie season. Also, we should appreicate the simple concept that a player of Trout’s size can run that fast. It isn’t uncommon, in the NFL. In Major League Baseball though, we haven’t seen that speed matched with that size since perhaps Bo Jackson. Still, Trout’s likely not the fastest. But the one thing to take away from this, he’s AMONG the fastest.

Is Mike Trout the best power hitter?

Likely not. That title belongs to either Giancarlo Stanton or Jose Abreu. Having said that, Mike Trout did record the longest homerun of the year in 2014, hit 36 home runs in what was considered a “down” year, and did all this while playing in the pitching friendly confines of Angel Stadium. Trout is still only 23 years old. So there’s still a chance that sometime in the next decade, he could theoretically start hitting 40-50 bombs a year and take the title as best power hitter. He’s off to a great start in 2015 and figures to be among the league leaders when all is said and done. But what can we take away from Trout’s power comparisons? He’s not the best power-hitter, but he’s AMONG the best power hitters.

Is Mike Trout the best defensive center fielder?

That’s actually possible. Defensive metrics haven’t been entirely friendly to him, but then again defensive metrics aren’t trusted by pretty much anyone. We know Trout covers more ground in centerfield than just about anyone in the game not named Bourjos. We know his leaping ability at the wall in unparalleled. His glove is clearly among the best. But his arm? That’s only average. Of course he never misses his target, but still, it isn’t anything too special. So we aren’t exactly sure if he is the best defensive centerfielder. But, what we can certainly take away, he’s AMONG the best. In the mean time, we must for the sake of equality admit that Trout is likely the best jumper in baseball.

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Is Mike Trout the best hitter in baseball?

Certainly possible, but again, not completely without debate. Trout’s career .305 batting average is definitely good, especially in this pitching friendly era. But he doesn’t have a batting title. As far as hitting for average goes, it’s probably Jose Altuve that holds the title there. In fact, Trout in what appears to be an anomaly actually struck out more times than anyone in the AL last year. But at the same time, he’s recorded the highest OPS+ combined over the past three seasons, had the most total bases and RBI’s last year, and has led the AL in runs scored every year since his rookie season. As far as reaching base goes, yeah, Mike Trout’s good there too, with a career .396 OBP. But Joey Votto owns a career .417 OBP. So it’s likely Trout isn’t the most patient or disciplined either. But as has been the running theme of this article, Mike Trout is AMONG the best hitters in baseball.

Is Mike Trout the best pitcher in baseball.

No. Mike Trout isn’t a pitcher. He was rumored to hit 90 mph off the mound in high school, but he’s no more of a pitcher than Clayton Kershaw is a hitter. Still, let’s take some time to appreciate the above picture.

Is Mike Trout the most popular player in baseball?

This one actually has very little to do with his performance on the field, but from a consensus standpoint, is Mike Trout the most well-known player in baseball? No, probably not. While his accolades are, Bryce Harper, Alex Rodriguez, Yasiel Puig, Miguel Cabrera and Clayton Kershaw still come up more frequently than Trout does. So he clearly isn’t the most popular. But Trout is the only player in the game to have his own cleat, so he is AMONG the most popular players. He likely should receive some sort of award for having the most creative footwear ever bearing his name though.

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When you add it all up, what makes Mike Trout so special is that despite being immensely talented, he’s still more than the sum of his parts. Chances are, he’ll never break Hank Aaron’s (or Barry Bonds’) homerun record. He likely won’t break Rickey Henderson’s stolen base record. It’s unlikely he’ll break Ty Cobb’s career batting average of .366 or Ted Williams career .481 OBP. He may not ever be the best defensive CF the way Willie Mays was. But when you add it all together, what we’ve had the privilege to bear witness to the past three years, if that keeps happening for another 10-15 years as is expected, Trout may become the greatest player of all-time. If not, he should be AMONG the greatest to have ever played.

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