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Is Mike Trout the GOAT?

Adam Shay

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The term G.O.A.T (Greatest of All-Time) is exclaimed more often than not, despite the slogan singling out an individual. While scrolling through Twitter, it seems as if there are multiple GOAT’s varying daily, with only a couple consistent players. Do to popularity and opinionated discussions, the most concrete GOAT of a sport would be Wayne Gretzky for Hockey, and most likely Tiger Woods for Golf. As for basketball, baseball, and football, it’s near impossible for those sports to have a definitive GOAT.

So, in a subsection, there are generational GOATs: a specific player within a decade or two length considered to be the greatest during the time period. Also, a player perceived as the greatest by the fans from the time span. From 1920-29, the heroic Babe Ruth was baseball’s first definitive GOAT, or the immortalized Muhammad Ali was boxing’s greatest from 1962-75, or “His Airness” Michael Jordan as the GOAT from 1984-1998, and debatably still the greatest to ever play basketball. But today, the MLB is witnessing the 2010-19 generational GOAT: Mike Trout.

Since his first full season in 2012, MLB fans, writers and analysts can comply to Trout being the greatest player in baseball. Despite other players having more stat-padded seasons, specifically two-time MVP winner Miguel Cabrera’s historic Triple Crown season in 2012, Trout was the all-around better player. At the age of 27 with seven full years under his belt, his career accomplishments would put him into Hall of Fame contention:

  • 2012 ROY, 2014 and 2016 MVP
  • 7x All-Star
  • 6x Silver Slugger 
  • 2x All-Star MVP
  • 2012 American League Wilson Overall Defensive Player
  • 2014 AL Hank Aaron Award

It’s not a bad resume for a player with ten years left in the tank. As great as he has been, is it possible for Trout to have room for improvement? Absolutely. Since his 2014 AL MVP season, which he led the league with 184 strikeouts, his yearly total has decreased since, while his walk rate has improved. Thus far in 2019, it’s possible Trout’s batting eye is as dominant as the Power infinity stone (quick Marvel shout out). Through 21 games, the “Millville Meteor” has trotted to first base 24 times compared to 11 strikeouts, bringing his On Base Percentage to an MLB leading .522 percent. Trout has led the AL in OBP the past three seasons, most likely making it a fourth straight season.

With the relatively new Wins Above Replacement (WAR) stat, Trout is on pace to crack 100 within the next three years. Not including this year or his 40 games in 2011, Trout has totaled 63.8 WAR in his first seven full seasons. Lets compare him to other Hall of Famer’s: Willie Mays (57.6 WAR from 1951, 54-59), Mickey Mantle (60.0 WAR from 1952-58), and Hank Aaron (46.6 WAR from 1954-1960). Incredible company for Trout to be categorized with. Also, Trout has compiled three seasons over 10 WAR and is on pace for his fourth this season with a 2.1 WAR in 2019.

Aside from WAR and his walk rate, Trout is one of the couple five-tool players in the league. A five tool player consist of: hitting for average and power, speed, fielding, and arm strength. Average wise, Trout has it taken care of as his lifetime average sits at .307 with three straight seasons over .305. With 246 career dingers, the active MLB leader in slugging percentage (.575), and consecutive seasons over .625 slugging…the man has power. 

Trout’s speed in the outfield overshadows his consistent base running. He has not come close to his MLB leading 49 stolen bases in 2012, but he is due for over 20 stolen bases yearly as he has done all but two years. Trout has created a highlight reel in center field, full of diving catches and memorable home run robberies. Plus, he has only committed 16 errors in his career. Lastly, his arm strength has been considered the weakest part of his game. Trout put the critics to rest as he hurled a one-hopper from center field to home against the Texas Rangers 19 days ago, throwing out Ronald Guzman.

The only thing missing from his resume: playoff appearances. The Los Angeles Angels haven’t been to the playoffs since 2014, when the Kansas City Royals swept them in three games. With Trout signing the outrageous 12 year/$428.17 million contract through 2030, it will be difficult for the Angels to sign other players in their prime. Superstars make their name in the regular season, legends imprint themselves in October, and Mike Trout needs to make it there pronto. But until then, he is stuck on the last place Angels.

Going off Trout’s early career accomplishments, and taking his future potential into consideration, could he become baseball’s true GOAT? He is the best player of the 2010-19 decade and at the age of 27, who knows what Trout can accomplish by the end of his contract in 2030. Because of playing in a small market, plus his quiet demeanor and a lack of social media attention, other players receive more notoriety: Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs. Regardless of his monumental stats, Mike Trout is the epitome of baseball, a role model for young aspiring ballplayers, and most importantly, the generational GOAT.

Ever wished you could start a career covering your favorite sport? Have you spent time wishing you could combine your love of sports with your passion for writing and reporting? CMN’s Sports Journalism course is an experiential learning program designed to give the practical experience you need to get your foot in the door in this ultra-competitive industry. You’ll get useful, direct feedback on your reporting, exposure to experienced sports journalists and influencers, and a great place to build your portfolio. You can get college credit, too. Get all the details on the CMN's Sports Journalism Course here.

Adam Shay is a graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, During his four years at EIU, he wrote for the Daily Eastern News for two and a half years, covering multiple sports, news events, and writing feature stories. He was also on the rugby club team for two years, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, and finished third in applying for his commencement speech. Currently, he runs a public relations system for a bar in Palatine, Illinois, and in his free time, he is always learning about music, sports history, and American history.

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