Mike Trout is the best player in baseball (although Bryce Harper may soon make this a debate).
Per Fangraphs, Trout has been worth at least 9.0 WAR (wins above replacement) in three of the last four seasons. Only one player has had 9.0+ WAR over those four seasons, as Bryce Harper was worth 9.5 WAR in 2015.
In Trout’s only season of the last four that he didn’t reach 9.0 WAR, he still led the majors in WAR at 8.0, and won his only MVP award (think about that… somehow, Trout’s only MVP is from the worst of his last four seasons).
What Trout is doing is all-time awesome. These are the all-time leaders in wRC+ (weight runs created plus):
Even non-baseball fans would know many of the names on that list. Trout ranks SEVENTH, slightly behind Mickey Mantle. Mike Trout is basically Mickey Mantle.
Oh, and he’s just 24 years old… and wants to be “more consistent” this year:
Mike Trout said he aims to be “more consistent” this year. He believes the Angels “have a chance to win” and that they “have to get off to a good start.” Asked about not acquiring a premier left fielder over the offseason, Trout said: “I just look at the guys we have now and go with that. We have a great group of guys.”
Last August, Trout actually looked human, hitting just .218 with a .689 OPS. He revealed on Wednesday that he was playing with a bothersome wrist:
The only hiccup in his season was an August in which he hit .218. That followed a wrist injury he suffered in late July. Trout insisted last year that the wrist only bothered him for a short time, and it wasn’t why he slumped. On Wednesday, he said he was “playing through some soreness,” but he again didn’t blame the slump on the injury.
“Just going through a skid,” he said. “Everyone goes through it. I wasn’t feeling good at the plate. I was trying to change things when I shouldn’t have. When you are going through a skid you try to change things when you really should have gone back to basics.”
Trout isn’t going to blame the injury on his struggles in that month, but a wrist injury can be a massive injury for a hitter and it’s hard to think that didn’t also play a (possibly large) part in his one rough month.
One area of Trout’s game that has actually seen a decline over the years is base-stealing. In 2012 he stole 49 bases, followed by 33 stolen bases in 2013, 16 stolen bases in 2014, and 11 stolen bases in 2015. We don’t need a graph to see that huge decline. Trout thinks he can get his stolen base totals back up this year with improved confidence on the basepaths:
In 2015, Trout stole just 11 bases and was caught seven times – both surprising numbers. On Wednesday, before the Angels first full-squad workout of the spring, he said he’s going to work on improving that.
Speed certainly isn’t the issue. So what is?
“Just getting my confidence back,” Trout said. “The last couple years my confidence has been down. Not getting good jumps and good reads, getting back to the way I used to be.”
Manager Mike Scioscia agreed.
“A lot of comes down to Mike’s evolution of getting that confidence back,” Scioscia said. “Last year there was no doubt he tried to force a couple things and had to readjust. He absolutely can be a 40-40 guy, but we’re going to let those numbers fall into place. Wherever they are, they are.”
Mike Trout healthy, confident, and looking to be more consistent? Just a downright scary thought, especially for American League pitchers.