We’re not quite done with WAR yet. In previous installments, the focus has been on Mike Trout in terms of all-time WAR and single season WAR. What about peak era? Specifically, how does Trout match up against his peers over his career, and how does his full-time span of eight years match up against all-time greats?
#12: Dominance Over Peers (2012-19 WAR)
Trout has been a full-time player since 2012, a span of eight years. The first Amazing Trout Stat in this installment is 2012-19 WAR. Here are the WAR leaders during Trout’s full-time career:
Top Ten WAR Leaders: 2012-19
- Mike Trout 72.7
- Buster Posey 47.1
- Josh Donaldson 41.8
- Paul Goldschmidt 38.6
- Andrew McCutchen 37.7
- Mookie Betts 37.2
- Bryce Harper 35.1
- Joey Votto 34.9
- Jose Altuve 34.8
- Robinson Cano 34.7
Now consider what that means: Not only has he contribute +25.6 WAR above everyone else, or +3.2 per year, but he has contributed more WAR value than any two players ranked #6 or lower. Meaning, add #6 (Betts) to anyone below him, and Trout has contributed more value than both players combined.
Let’s look at this visually:
I think that image speaks for itself. While Posey is solidly above the rest of the field, everyone else evenly tapers off. Trout is a giant among lesser men.
But to add one more number to the mix, Trout’s 72.7 WAR is 154% better than #2 during that same time-span, Buster Posey. Meaning, he’s more than one-and-half times the value of the second most productive player of his era.
#13: Eight-Year Spans (1871-2019)
How does Trout’s eight-year span compare to other all-time greats? Well, I calculated every eight-year span in the history of baseball going back to 1871, and came up with the following list (note that I only included the very best span of each player):
Best Eight-Year Spans (1871-2019)
- Babe Ruth 89.7 (1920-27)
- Ted Williams 77.1 (1939-42, 46-49*)
- Rogers Hornsby 76.9 (1920-27)
- Honus Wagner 76.0 (1902-09)
- Barry Bonds 75.6 (1997-2004)
- Willie Mays 75.3 (1958-65)
- Lou Gehrig 74.1 (1927-34)
- Mike Trout 72.7 (2012-19)
- Mickey Mantle 72.1 (1954-61)
- Ty Cobb 72.0 (1910-17)
*For Williams I didn’t include the absent or partial years lost to WWII.
As you can see, the only comparable players in the post-WWII era are Mays, Mantle, and Bonds. Every one else played in the first half of the century, in a very different context (e.g. eight-team leagues, no black players, fewer relief pitchers). In other words, Trout truly is the modern era version of Mays or Mantle, and doing so while playing in a more difficult context.
As a side note, if you’re wondering where Bonds would rank with only pre-1998 spans, his best “untainted” eight-year span is 1990-97, when he accumulated 69.5 WAR—still good enough to be #10.
One final note: While this is an exciting statistic to contemplate, it is highly unlikely that Trout will ever do better. His first two years are also his highest WAR totals at 10.1 and 10.2, in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Still, I think he looks just fine as the eighth-best eight-year span in major league history (or 32nd best if you count every span of every player), or the second best of the post-WWII era.