Happy birthday to you...
When I turned 24, my list of accomplishments looked like this:
- Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon
- Job as the low man on the totem pole at a mid-size accounting firm
- Got married
- Became a father
- Huntington Beach City softball champion
- Four-time All Star
- Three-time Silver Slugger
- Two-time All Star MVP
- One-time American League MVP
- Innumerable-time doer of amazing things that make Angel fans shout in exultation
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I know you're impressed. Cmon, Mike, whaddya got?
Well, by itself, that's not THAT impressive. Just looking at the counting stats, 140 other guys in baseball history have done that, and one of them is Ian Kinsler. IAN KINSLER. Gross.
Ah, but how many of those 140 did it by the age of 24? Zero. Not one. The closest was a guy named Alex Rodriguez, and despite 193 additional games (due to the age cutoff rules used by baseball-reference.com), he still hadn't matched Trout in triples or walks by the end of his age 24 season.
What about those rate stats, though?
14 other players have put up rate stats that good for their careers. Here are the names: Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, Hornsby, Foxx, Pujols, Musial, Mize, Greenberg, Frank Thomas, Miguel Cabrera, DiMaggio, Manny Ramirez, Larry Walker. You might recognize some of those.
But of the guys who had played 350 games by their 24th birthday, only four others had put up similar or better rate stats. And only one, Ted Williams, had a better OPS+, meaning that, through his 24th birthday, Trout has been better than his peers by a greater amount than all but the guy that many consider the greatest hitter who ever lived.
Happy birthday dear Mi-ike...
But Trout is more than just hitting. He brings value whenever and wherever he is on the field. He plays one of the toughest positions on the field, and while he might not match the grace and beauty with which he played it his rookie season, he still plays it fairly well. And when he gets on base, if he's not stealing bases, he's taking extra ones any time someone gets a hit. He rarely grounds double plays. Only seven other guys created as much value with their baserunning through their 24th birthday as Mike Trout has, and none equaled him in extra base hits. He does it all.
Mike Trout currently sits at 34.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Only four other hitters put up more than 30 WAR by their 24th birthday (Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Mel Ott, and Ken Griffey Jr.), and only one of those since World War II. Oh, and Trout has more Wins Above Average than all but Williams.
Mike is currently 8th on the all-time Angels WAR list. 8th. By age 24. Of the non-pitchers, Trout has done his damage in fewer than half of the games of any of the players ahead of him on the chart.
Happy birthday to you!
I recently celebrated my 33rd birthday. I've seen many great players come through Anaheim Stadium during my years on this earth. Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, to name just a few. I've also rooted for some fantastic guys to put on the Angel uniform - Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson, Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols.
I can say with the utmost confidence that of all those guys, none of them combine the things that make baseball so much fun to watch and follow in the way that Mike Trout does. We are fortunate to get to see this phenom, this marvel, this virtuoso up close. He does everything, and he does it with infectious joy.
And so we wish you a happy birthday Mr. Trout. I hope you celebrate it with a running catch in the gap and a couple of hits.
...And many more.