I love numbers, especially baseball numbers. WAR, OPS, wRC+, we discuss numbers all day on this board. Learning those numbers and what they mean were two of the biggest draws to me when I joined Halos Heaven.
I love that we have so many ways to define, measure, and compare Mike Trout’s greatness. More than we had with Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, or any other baseball legend. It is like having statistical 4K compared to a set of rabbit ears.
But as much as we can look at Trout’s WAR, his OBP, all his measures of greatness, the extension he signed and his true meaning to Angels fans is in no way fully measured by those or any other number. Not even by the biggest number, $430 million.
I’d never be able to count the number of kids I see at the Big A wearing Mike Trout jerseys or shirts. Those kids seeing their hero in real life, making plays right in front of them. You can’t put a number on that.
I was one of those kids, sans jersey, at my first Angels game. There he was, Wally Joyner, in the flesh, standing on first base. From my view behind the wall in right field, across the grass, across the diamond, he still looked like a giant. While yes, there were other guys on the field, my eyes were trained on him.
I sat there with my dad and experienced the awe, the excitement, that only comes with watching your favorite player. The awe and excitement that this generation now feels when they see Trout out in center. Those are priceless moments.
Now I’m the dad. My son had a Mike Trout jersey before he was even born. For a while, I was concerned that Trout would leave while my son was too young to remember him. Trout is here until my son, born in 2017, will be in junior high. He’ll remember the old man taking him to watch Trout play. Priceless.
And let’s not pretend that the magic of baseball and seeing your favorite player wears off with childhood. Oh, no. Part of what draws us to the game as adults is walking into the ballpark, hearing a player’s name announced over the P.A., seeing a great play. Those things still give us thrills.
Baseball is a direct path to feeling like a kid again. Back when the game was just fun. Back when a few friends, a patch of grass and some sunlight were all that you needed to pass an afternoon. Back when a ballgame on TV was kind of a special event if you are of a certain age.
Trout brings all that back. His ever present smile, his hustle, the way he plays every game with the type of joy we did as kids. Seeing that in person is worth the cost of a ticket. And the fact you never know what he’s going to do makes each of the 162 games (plus Spring Training) a special event again.
You just can’t quantify that feeling, that connection. You just experience it and enjoy it.
So, while yes, we will continue to praise Mike Trout’s greatness and explain it in numbers. We will point to his WAR and watch him surpass the greats of the pass. We will count his home runs and stolen bases, we will cheer for his big hits, let’s also realize that Mike Trout’s true value, his meaning, is far from quantifiable. There’s just no statistic for enjoying greatness.
Enjoy that moment with your kid at the ballpark. Let Mike’s smile carry over to your face. Feel like a kid again, even just for a moment.
The greatest player of his generation, perhaps of any generation, is an Angel for life. No number can accurately describe what that means to Angels fans. Not even $430,000,000.