Quick quiz, do you know who’s leading the American League in WAR right now? Here’s a hint, it’s not MVP favorites Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, or Josh Donaldson. Once again, the advanced metrics favor Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout as the best player in the AL.
Trout By the Numbers
In addition to leading the league in WAR, Trout is also pacing the field with the best on-base percentage, and is top 5 in batting average (.321), slugging percentage (.564) and OPS (1.002). He’s pretty good.
Unfortunately due to playing in the wasteland that has become the LA Angels, Trout seems to be a forgotten man. This is a player who has statistically been the best player in baseball since his rookie year in 2012. So what does he have to show for it? One AL West title in 2014 and three playoff games.
Mike Trout's WAR has increased to 9 for the season. He had 9+ WAR every season since 2012 except for 2014 (7.9) https://t.co/R2Jz1KKvUU
— baseball reddit (@baseballreddit) September 4, 2016
Doom and Gloom in LA
At least the squads that Trout played on from 2012-2015 were competitive. This year’s model is one of the worst in baseball, and it only figures to get worse from here. There is still big money owed to Albert Pujols, Andrelton Simmons and Ricky Nolasco.
Even though they have some big salaries coming off the books at the end of the season, the 2017 free agent class leaves a lot to be desired. On top of that, the Angels have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.
The fact that Trout is able to have the kind of impact on the Angels he’s had with some questionable talent speaks volumes to his true value. Could you even imagine where the Angels would be without him this year?
It almost seems unfair that a player the caliber of Trout seems like he’s going to be stuck on a middling team for most of his prime. Now this isn’t a hot take article, calling for the Angels to trade Trout either. No team would be able to offer enough prospects to entice the Angels, and even then, there are no guarantees that any of those players come close to replacing Trout.
No Hardware This Year
For as great a season that guys like Betts, Altuve, and Donaldson are having, Trout has been even better. The difference between Trout and those guys is that while Trout is wasting his summer in last place, the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, and Toronto Blue Jays are all in the thick of playoff contention.
Trout currently leads Betts by over 1 full win in terms of WAR, and Altuve (more than 2) and Donaldson (nearly 3) are even further back.
Trout won’t win the MVP award this year, and honestly, he might not finish in the top five. This is a player who has transcended the game since his arrival in 2012, and he’s almost an afterthought this year.
On top of being on a team mired in last place, Trout makes everything look so effortless, that it’s easy for folks to overlook his greatness. Baseball is a tough sport, and Trout makes everything seem so routine.
Trout is a once in a generation talent just about to enter the prime of his career. Don’t forget about him as he wastes the next four years of his career in Los Angeles.