Yeah, they lost 5-4 to the lowly Marlins tonight. However, entering tonight’s game, the Cardinals had baseball’s best record at 43-23 with a run differential of +102 runs. It is the best start through 66 games, in terms of run differential, since the 2003 Mariners were +106. A team has been +100 or better through the first 66 games just five other times in this millennium, with the ’01 Mariners, ’02 Yankees and Red Sox, and ’08 Cubs joining the ’03 Mariners.
But, as we know, hot starts don’t always last forever. The Cardinals are on pace to be +250 over an entire season, a feat that has only been achieved five times since the 162-game schedule was adopted in the early 1960’s: by the ’98 Yankees (+309), ’01 Mariners (+300), ’69 Orioles (+262), ’98 Astros (+254), and ’75 Reds (+254). Two of those teams — the Yankees and Reds — won the World Series. Even if you lower the threshold to +200, only an additional 15 teams join the list.
It hasn’t been talked about much, but through 66 games this season, the Cardinals are looking really, really good. Whether they can hold steady through the next 96 games and into the post-season, however, remains to be seen.
Mike Trout may not win another MVP award, because Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays had a great season and voters seem to be leaning his way, but the Angels center fielder just completed his fourth MVP-caliber campaign in four full seasons as a major leaguer.
Trout has now either won the MVP or (presumably) finished runner-up at age 20, age 21, age 22, and age 23. And there were certainly cases to be made that he was deserving of all four MVP awards. It’s been an incredible start to a career. But how incredible?
Here are the all-time leaders in Wins Above Replacement through age 23:
37.6 – Mike Trout
36.0 – Ty Cobb
34.2 – Ted Williams
31.4 – Mel Ott
30.1 – Ken Griffey Jr.
29.7 – Mickey Mantle
27.7 – Alex Rodriguez
27.5 – Al Kaline
26.7 – Arky Vaughan
26.5 – Rogers Hornsby
I mean, just look at the 10 names on that list. Ridiculous, and Trout sits atop all of them.
Trout has been the subject of intense MVP-related debates in three of his four seasons, but regardless of which side of that coin you favor don’t let it obscure the fact that we’re witnessing something truly special here. There’s certainly room to quibble with the exact rankings–WAR is merely one prominent and easy way to do such things–but however you slice it Trout has been one of the best handful of players in the history of baseball through age 23.
Last week impending free agent Chris Davis expressed frustration that the Orioles had not approached him about a contract extension during the season, pointing out that the team had previously locked up other players like J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones mid-season.
Now that the season is over and Davis had another monster year Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun that re-signing Davis is “a top priority” and added:
He’s had a great year and he’s been a great player for us, so obviously, we’d like to have him back. Whether we can do that in the market, that remains to be seen, but we’re going to try.
Davis is 29 years old, has some defensive versatility, and has led the league in homers in two of the past three seasons while posting an .891 OPS during that time. He’s going to get plenty of huge multi-year offers and based on some of Duquette’s other quotes within Encina’s article it sure sounds like the Orioles are preparing for life without him.