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A reminder as we inch closer to the 2018 season: Mike Trout is really, really good


Much of the baseball focus over the past few months has been on the slowly developing free agent landscape. With pitchers and catchers set to report in just a couple of weeks, focus will return to the players donning uniforms.

Fans will be excited to see young players in their first full year of action, like Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies. Similarly, heralded prospects like Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna are expected to make their debuts during the 2018 season. Some players, like Giancarlo Stanton, switched uniforms and it’ll be exciting to see how they perform in their new digs. Others, like Aaron Judge, are looking to build off of a breakout performance in 2017. Still others, like Mark Trumbo and Maikel Franco, are looking to bounce back from disappointing campaigns last year.

The player no one is really talking about going into the 2018 season is Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Rest assured, however, we certainly will be talking about him throughout the season and again when it’s time to vote on and hand out awards. Trout is so consistently good that it’s become rote. He was on his way to his third AL MVP Award last season until he suffered a torn UCL in his left thumb, forcing him to undergo surgery that kept him out until mid-July. It seems like acts of god are the only thing that can hold Trout back.

How good is Trout? Accomplishments through his age-25 season:

  • 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner
  • 2014 and ’16 AL Most Valuable Player Award winner
  • Six consecutive All-Star nominations (2012-17)
  • Five consecutive Silver Slugger Awards (2012-16)
  • Five consecutive top-two finishes in AL MVP Award balloting (2012-16), finished fourth in injury-shortened 2017
  • In fewer than 1,000 career games: 201 HR, 569 RBI, 692 runs, 165 stolen bases, .976 OPS (172 OPS+)
  • Led majors in runs (2012, ‘14, ’16), stolen bases (’12), walks (’16), on-base percentage (’16), and OPS (’17)
  • Led AL in runs (’13), RBI (’14), walks (’13), OBP (’17), slugging percentage (’15, ’17), and OPS (’15)
  • Led majors in WAR in 2012-14 and ’16 according to both B-R and FanGraphs WAR

55.2 career WAR (Baseball Reference) is more than 2018 Hall of Fame inductees Trevor Hoffman (28.0) and Jack Morris (43.8), and nearly greater than that of Vladimir Guerrero (59.3).

Among the 213 position players already enshrined in the Hall of Fame, Trout would rank 86th in WAR (B-R).

Trout is one of three position players to accrue 50 or more WAR (B-R) through his age-25 season. The others: Ty Cobb (55.8) and Mickey Mantle (52.2).

If Trout averages 5 WAR (B-R) per season over the next four years (he has averaged 9.1 in his six full seasons thus far), he’ll be over 75 WAR, which would place him 37th all-time among Hall of Fame position players. If he averages 4 WAR per season through his age-35 season, he would have approximately 95 WAR which would rank him 22nd all-time among position players. That’s just behind Cal Ripken, Jr. (95.5) and Roberto Clemente (94.5). Only 17 Hall of Fame position players have 100-plus WAR. Trout needs to only modestly beat the rather conservative averages I’ve presented to become No. 18.

Trout has had four seasons in which he has accrued 9 or more WAR (B-R). He’s one of 14 players to accomplish the feat. The only players to have done it more often are Babe Ruth (10 times), Barry Bonds (eight), Willie Mays (eight), Rogers Hornsby (eight), Ted Williams (six), Cobb (six), and Lou Gehrig (five).

With 201 career home runs, Trout is one of eight players to rack up 200 or more home runs through his age-25 season. The others: Alex Rodriguez (241), Eddie Mathews (222), Jimmie Foxx (222), Mel Ott (211), Mantle (207), Frank Robinson (202), and Albert Pujols (201).

Trout and Rodriguez are the only players to hit at least 150 home runs and steal at least 150 bases through his age-25 season. If we lower the threshold to 125/125, only Vada Pinson and Darryl Strawberry join the list. 100/100 has 10 total players, including Trout.

Since 1980, the only players to have led the league in OPS at least once by the end of their age-25 season (min. 500 PA) are Trout (’15, ’17), Bryce Harper (2015), Paul Goldschmidt (’13), John Olerud (1993), Frank Thomas (’91-92), Bonds (’90), Fred McGriff (’89), and Don Mattingly (’86).

Trout (571) is one of seven players to draw at least 500 walks through his age-25 season. The others are Mantle (670), Ott (622), Eddie Yost (620), Mathews (561), Foxx (556), and Rickey Henderson (520).

The 2018 season will bring us many opportunities, but chief among them is the chance to watch Trout, one of the greatest baseball players of all time in the midst of a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. If he can stay healthy, he’s money in the bank for another top-two finish in AL MVP Award balloting and he’ll almost certainly earn his seventh consecutive All-Star nomination. Not too shabby for a guy entering his seventh full season in the majors.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 2, Padres 1: Michael Taylor had a night. He made an incredible throw home to save a run, then doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Here’s the throw:

Here’s the walk-off double:

Jeremy Hellickson held the Padres to one run but had to leave with one out in the sixth due to a blister. The Nats’ bullpen took it from there, fanning five over the final 3 2/3 innings. Opposing starter Eric Lauer was also solid, yielding a run in his six innings of work. Bryce Harper hit his 14th dinger of the year.

Braves 3, Phillies 1: The Braves hold onto their first-place lead over the Phillies, winning this nail-biter. Brandon McCarthy and Vince Velasquez matched up for a fourth time this season. McCarthy has won all four starts. He gave up a run on on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He owns a 2.08 ERA against the Phillies this season and a 6.53 ERA against everyone else. Velasquez struck out nine, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks. Ozzie Albies hit his 14th homer of the season and scored all three runs for the Braves. His power progression has been impressive, to say the least.

Indians 10, Cubs 1: Ugly loss for the Cubs. Starter Tyler Chatwood walked six and gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings. Mike Montgomery, who relieved him, wasn’t any better, giving up six runs in 2 1/3 innings. Yonder Alonso racked up three hits and three RBI. Jose Ramirez hit a three-run home run. The top-third of the Indians’ lineup combined to go 5-for-11 with four walks and six runs scored. Trevor Bauer continued to deal, tossing six shutout frames with six strikeouts. His ERA stands at 2.35. Something, something, spin rate. The first-place Indians are back at .500 with a 23-23 record.

Blue Jays 5, Angels 3: The Blue Jays put up a five-spot in the first inning against Garrett Richards, proving to be all the offense they would need on the evening. The Angels helped them out with a wild pitch and a fielding error. Kendrys Morales capped off the frame with a two-run homer. J.A. Happ went seven innings, limiting the Angels to two runs on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

Reds 7, Pirates 2: Scooter Gennett put the Reds’ offense on his back, contributing an RBI double, a grand slam, and a sacrifice fly. You may recall Gennett hit four grand slams last year, becoming one of only a handful of players to accomplish the feat. He has five in the last calendar year. Matt Harvey limited the Pirates to just one run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six innings. Jameson Taillon was on the hook for all six runs the Reds scored, going six innings with eight strikeouts.

Red Sox 4, Rays 2: It was mostly a bad night for the Rays, as starter Jake Faria and catcher Wilson Ramos both exited the game in the third inning with injuries. However, shortstop prospect Willy Adames crushed his first major league homer off of Chris Sale. Sale went 7 2/3 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. He now holds a 2.17 ERA. Mookie Betts hit his major league-leading 16th homer of the season. Rafael Devers also went yard.

Marlins 5, Mets 1: Zack Wheeler pitched pretty well but the Mets just couldn’t swing the bats enough to support him. Wheeler struck out nine and gave up three runs (one earned) on seven hits with no walks over six innings. Caleb Smith was better, limiting the Mets to a lone run on three hits and two walks and eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 frames. Jose Bautista made his Mets debut, going 1-for-3 with a double.

Brewers 1, Diamondbacks 0: Another heart-breaker for the D-Backs. They have now lost six games in a row and 12 of their last 13. The Brewers’ lone run scored on a Domingo Santana sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. Jhoulys Chacin narrowly out-pitched Matt Koch and the Brewers’ bullpen took it from there. Matt Albers, Josh Hader, and Corey Knebel combined to hold the D-Backs scoreless for the final 12 outs. The first-place Brewers are 30-19. The Brewers might’ve scored more if not for Jarrod Dyson:

Rangers 6, Yankees 4: Jurickson Profar kicked things off for the Rangers with a three-run homer in the first inning. The Rangers scored two more in the second against Domingo German, who lasted 3 2/3 innings and was on the hook for all six runs in total. Cole Hamels held the Yankees to a pair of runs on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over seven innings. The two runs came on solo home runs from Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. Austin Romine added two more in the eighth with a two-run shot off of Jake Diekman.

White Sox 3, Orioles 2: May continues to go well for James Shields, who now owns a 3.27 ERA in five starts this month (but a 4.62 ERA overall). He gave up only two runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts over seven innings. Kevin Gausman blanked the Sox over 6 1/3 innings on nine hits and a walk while striking out 10. Mark Trumbo went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and an RBI. Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier combined to fork over three runs to the White Sox in the bottom of the eighth inning, saddling Gausman with a no-decision.

Twins 6, Tigers 0: Lance Lynn finally put together a good start for the Twins. He shut out the Tigers across 6 2/3 innings, yielding only five hits and a walk while striking out four. The effort lowered his ERA to 6.34. The Twins scored three runs in the fifth and seventh innings, providing more than enough run support. Brian Dozier knocked in three of those runs with a pair of doubles. Ehire Adrianza reached base three times and picked up a pair of RBI in the effort as well.

Astros 11, Giants 2: The Astros singled and doubled the Giants to death, pounding out 12 total hits, none of which went for more than two bases, and drew five walks. Gerrit Cole gave up two runs on four hits and three walks with eight striekouts in six innings. His ERA ballooned all the way up to 1.86. Each pitcher that entered the game for the Giants gave up at least one run. It wasn’t all bad for the Giants — at least Brandon Crawford got to homer off of brother-in-law Gerrit Cole.

Royals 5, Cardinals 1: The Royals got homers from Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez plus seven strong innings from Jason Hammel. Hammel gave up nine hits, walked none, and struck out six in the effort. On a lot of other nights, Luke Weaver would’ve had a W, but settled for the L with seven innings of three-run ball. He struck out eight. Yairo Munoz and Marcell Ozuna each collected three hits. Gordon and Alcides Escobar had three hits each for the Royals.

Mariners 3, Athletics 2 (10 innings): Guillermo Heredia broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 10th with an RBI double. Edwin Diaz worked a perfect bottom half with a pair of strikeouts to close it out. Both starters — Trevor Cahill for the A’s and Mike Leake for the Mariners — pitched into the seventh inning and gave up two runs.

Dodgers 5, Rockies 3: Chris Taylor hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth and Yasiel Puig tacked on an insurance run with a solo homer. Ian Desmond went yard for the Rockies.