Mike Trout is 30 Now

Like many things in life, an athlete aging before your eyes can make one feel old. I remember where I was when I saw Trout’s debut. I was home, still in high school watching someone slightly older than me do the things I dreamt about since I could walk.

Sure, 2011 Mike Trout was nothing more than a 19 year old who had more promise than hits. He was fast and could defend well, but he was more like Reggie Willits than, you know, Mike Trout.

The Draft

He famously was the only player at the first televised MLB Draft and had to hear 24 names go by before he was drafted. So much has been said on the subject that to repeat it here would be redundant. Instead of repeating that, I want to try a different angle, Mike Trout changed how teams view the draft.

Yes, Mike Trout and his success, his story, the whole thing changed how teams view the draft. In the past, in the long long ago, back before the current system and the system before that, the MLB draft had extra picks for teams based on free agents leaving. These were rather arbitrary based on how good the player was. You could get an extra first round pick or a later pick or none at all depending on it.

No one cared much about these. Seriously. K-Rod and Mark Teixeira leaving the Angels was worth more than picks 24 and 25 in the 2009 MLB draft in the Angels’ eyes, and frankly everyone else’s. Drafts were a crapshoot, and the player won’t make an impact for years down the line if ever. That is what separates MLB from the other major sports.

With the launch of MLB Network, Bud Selig tried to elevate the draft. He wanted people to care about it. But people did not. Draftees famously found out in a newspaper or a phone call out of nowhere when they were drafted, sometimes in the late late rounds that do not even exist anymore. Bud wanted to change that, get fans excited about the future. There was one problem though, you can’t force it.

Mike Trout was the only one who came. As he lived nearby, it wasn’t that far, and with the reputation of the draft and the location of basically every other top pick being hundreds and thousands of miles away, it was really no surprise in hindsight.

The Top Prospect

What really changed the view of the draft was how much of a miss Mike Trout was to everyone. He rose quickly through the levels and was the top prospect for 2011. Along with the stacked 2009 draft, Mike Trout put the Angels into a golden opportunity. But Angels fans have seen this before.

Brandon Wood is infamously one of the biggest busts in baseball history and his name is a constant reminder for Angels fans when it came to hype. To the trained eye it was evident why one failed and one became a legend, but to most fans, all they see is prospect rankings and the hype.

So as Mike Trout caught headlines and moved up rankings, there was hype, but also caution. Sure, a speedy outfielder is a safer bet than an infielder with raw power, but there was already Perter Bourjos, Trout would have to play a corner if he was to be called up.

As Mike Trout made his debut and had his rookie eligibility stay in tact barely, get sick in April and finally appear again in 2012 to put on one of the best seasons ever, all that fear and caution got tossed to the wind. It was that insane 2012 that changed the draft.

The OG Mike Trout

Ah yes, 2012, Mike Trout’s only 30-30 season. It is still my favorite version. The speed, the defense, the power, it was all there. His MVP argument was on being a complete player, a player he would never be again. Sabermetrics say he should have won. His age and the team performance means he lost.

You can tell that the draft changed after 2012. While people did show up for 2010 and 2011 due to the hype with Harper and more players getting used to it, Mike Trout’s arrival changed how teams viewed draft picks. The system was changed with the qualifying offer to make things simple for teams signing, but that became a huge negative.

While before teams signed and lost draft picks without much care, now caution and uneasiness were everywhere. Sure late 20’s draft picks don’t yield much value usually, but what if it is the next Mike Trout? His 2012 season opened the door for the best prospects to be MLB ready faster and faster. Harper, Betts, Acuña Jr, Tatis Jr, Vlad Jr, MLB hasn’t seen such young rookies be ready so fast in years.

Hording draft picks and prospects rose greatly. So much that the rules had to be changed again to make the draft picks for QO be the 2nd round pick instead. Mike Trout did that. His 30-30 season leading MLB in runs and stolen bases did that. The youth movement was here and Mike Trout kick started it.

Consistentcy

Phenoms came and went but the ones who stayed the best were one thing, consistent. That is what made Trout different from the rest of the best players this millennium. From 2012-2016 Mike Trout averaged a .300/.400/.500 season with 33 bombs and 28 bags and 9.3 Baseball reference WAR per season. Even the top players over the past 10 years have at most 1 season like that.

Despite getting hurt in 2017, Mike Trouts worst season, he still only bottomed out at 6.9 BWAR from 2012-2019. Nolan Arenado had only 1 season more than that. Harper had only 1. Judge had only 1. Machado had 2. Every year a new player would perform well and be Mike Trout’s “new rival” but none has the consistency to even play like 2017 Trout let alone 2012 Trout.

Despite not playing much at all in 2021, and having an injury season in 2017, Mike Trout still has more Fangraphs WAR over number 2 Betts than Betts has over number 18 Justin Turner since 2014. Mike Trout is a historic player even if his late 20’s has not been kind to his body.

Mike Trout vs Legends

Seriously, Mike Trout comparisons need to be done with the best in the game’s history. Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and babe Ruth. All other comparisons to his peers are useless.

Mike Trout vs mortals

It is rather unfair to put guys like Machado, Harper, and Betts against Trout. They may make the HOF in the future, but Trout is already there if he never plays again.

The Future

Players do not tend to do well after 30 unless they are cheating. Things got skewed by the PED era on how players are supposed to do. Now more than ever, vets cannot keep up production even half of what they did in their 20’s. Can Mike Trout be different? Maybe. Legends age better than mortals, but still, things do not look great.

Ken Griffey Jr famously never was the same after he left Seattle. His 30’s were so much of a disaster that worth wise he added almost nothing at all.

Is this Trout’s future?

With multiple years missing and so much of his prime gone, I fear for Mike Trout. It is very rare to see the line g up again when it starts to plateau. A move off of CF may help but 10 WAR Trout may be a thing of the past.

I already fear he may not be a 300-300 player. He has been stuck around 200 SB for years now and rarely steals anymore. With his health issues lately, even getting 250 may be out of the question.

Enjoy Mike Trout when you can, hopefully this year when he comes back. Time stops for no one, even the greatest fish of all time.

19 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fumid346
Newbie
2 months ago

LBJ

Senator_John_Blutarsky
Super Member
2 months ago

Glory days, well they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

Jeff Joiner
Editor
Super Member
2 months ago

Saw Trout in Tempe when he was 19. Can’t believe that was 11 years ago.

Great article.

BoyWithApple
Member
Trusted Member
2 months ago

When Trout got called up to the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, I knew I had to get out quickly to see him play because it probably wouldn’t be long before he was called up to AA. The first time I saw him, he hit a stinging liner in the right-center field gap. He hit the ball so hard, I thought that he wasn’t going to have enough time to make into second for a double. I watched the centerfielder gather up the ball after it caromed off the wall. I watched the throw sail over the outfield expanse back to the infield and expected a bang bang play at the second base bag, but when the ball arrived, Trout wasn’t there. When I looked around the diamond, I saw him getting up off the ground at third base with a triple that no one in the stadium had expected.

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  BoyWithApple

That’s a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago

I do think 10+ WAR Trout is likely a thing of the past. But if we could get 6-7 WAR per season, healthy Trout from age 30-35, I would take it!

He definitely needs to get himself in better shape. That is a way to fight back Father Time. With the advances in training- he could easily be productive into his late 30s.

Last edited 2 months ago by Fansince1971
matthiasstephan
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

Is this based only on injuries? He was on a 10 WAR pace this year again (assuming something like 150 games played). fWAR 2.3, bWAR 1.9 in 36 games

Jerseyhalofansince82
Member
2 months ago

Yeah this was going to be my question. Only injuries, which I obviously will concede are troubling for him at this point, are hurting the value he produces. He was having his greatest season, by many metrics, until he got bit by the injury bug again. I think the unlucky nature of the injuries starting in 2017 won’t continue from now on. He’s due for some luck the next 5-6 years.

Mia
Super Member
Mia
2 months ago

Gonna be weird to look back on these last two seasons and realize he barely played any baseball.

Happy birthday to Trouty! Feels like yesterday that Torii moved to RF for this rookie phenom. Worked out well, i’d say.

WallyChuckChili
Super Member
2 months ago

Will he hit a HR on his Birthday?

Mia
Super Member
Mia
2 months ago

No, but I bet he still scores

WallyChuckChili
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Mia

We still talking Baseball?

Mia
Super Member
Mia
2 months ago

I cannot for the life of me imagine another meaning

Fansince1971
Super Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Mia

You mean like video games?😂

halofansince1978
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

One of the funniest things I’ve ever read here on CtPG and HH was your “Wet Wood” comment about the shower scene in Bull Durham.

https://youtu.be/cDaFcQJC4z8

halofansince1978
Trusted Member
2 months ago

That was for Mia…not Fansince1971.

Mia
Super Member
Mia
2 months ago

I have no memory of this

Mia
Super Member
Mia
2 months ago
Reply to  Mia

Searched my SB Nation history and what do you know…

Mar 20, 2018 | 7:30 AM

How the heck did you remember that?

Last edited 2 months ago by Mia
halofansince1978
Trusted Member
2 months ago
Reply to  Mia

It made me laugh hilariously funny.

You’ve had some instant classics Mia.