It took a little while because he got off to what was for him at least a slow start to the season, but for the third straight year Angels center fielder Mike Trout leads all of baseball in Wins Above Replacement.
Trout is hitting .311 with 16 homers, 39 total extra-base hits, 9 steals (without being caught), and a career-high 1.008 OPS in 66 games, along with his usual outstanding defense. He leads the American League with a .610 slugging percentage and 1.008 OPS, and ranks second in on-base percentage (.397) behind only Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays.
Add it all up and here’s what the Fan Graphs leaderboard for Wins Above Replacement across both leagues looks like:
MIKE TROUT 4.7
Troy Tulowitzki 4.7
Alex Gordon 4.1
Giancarlo Stanton 3.8
Andrew McCutchen 3.4
Trout also led all of baseball in WAR last season with 10.4 and two seasons ago with 10.0. He is currently on pace for 11.0 this season. (Note: Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is also really, really good and also having a really, really awesome season over in the National League.)
Perhaps the Baseball Writers Association of America will find a way to avoid giving him the American League MVP award again, but for the third consecutive season–and third time in his three full seasons as a big leaguer–Trout is the best all-around player in baseball. And in just two more months he’ll turn 23 years old.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.