Angels outfielder Mike Trout went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks on Tuesday night, ever so slightly nudging him up to an even 10.0 Wins Above Replacement on the season, according to Baseball Reference. He’s the first player to have a 10 WAR season since… Mike Trout in 2012. In this millennium, Trout (twice), Barry Bonds (three times), Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez are the only players to put up a 10 WAR season. And with the caveat that, the further back in time we look, the less reliable WAR becomes, Trout’s 2016 season is just the 56th 10 WAR season since 1901.
Everyone seems to be in agreement that Trout is the best player in baseball, but it feels like he’s going to finish second in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting for the fourth time in five years. As many have argued recently, Trout is boring.
Joe Posnanski examined this phenomenon, pointing out that Trout isn’t boring because he isn’t exciting to watch; he’s boring because he’s consistent. He averages about 9.5 WAR per season, so his excellence in 2016 is just “meh.” It’s like when you have one kid who’s a great student and another kid who isn’t and both aced their most recent tests. The worse student will get more adulation because expectations have been exceeded, not just met.
Mookie Betts is the only other player close to Trout in WAR, and he’s at 8.9. That’s an outstanding season and he doesn’t have a chance of matching Trout. That’s how good Trout has been. And he should be the unanimous choice for AL MVP, but he won’t — and he might not even win — because the Angels are bad and that is somehow his fault.