By Jonathan Northrop, AngelsWin.com Columnist
Best Angels Seasons by WAR
Let’s face it: the Angels aren’t exactly a top tier franchise. For a brief time from 2002-09, they were one of the best franchises in MLB, but as far as their entire history goes—from 1961 to 2019—they’re pretty mediocre, not only in terms of postseason participation, but superstar talent. Consider that before Trout, only three players had surpassed 8 WAR in a season (Erstad, Glaus, DeCinces), only four 7 WAR (add in Fregosi), and only five 6 WAR (add in Figgins).
But Trout changed all of that. His five best seasons by fWAR are the five best Angels seasons. He’s got 7 of the top 8, and all 8 of his qualifying seasons are in the top 13 - #13 only so low because he played in 114 games.
#24: Angels Top 13 seasons (Position Players)
- Trout 2013 10.2
- Trout 2012 10.1
- Trout 2018 9.8
- Trout 2016 9.7
- Trout 2015 9.3
- Erstad 2000 8.7
- Trout 2019 8.6
- Trout 2014 8.3
- Glaus 2000 8.2
- DeCinces 1982 7.3
- Fregosi 1964 7.3
- Fregosi 1970 6.8
- Trout 2017 6.8
Ryan in 1973 (8.7), and 1974 (6.8), Chance in 1964 (7.6), and Tanana in 1975 (7.2) would all be equal to or better than Trout’s worst season, if we were including pitchers.
#25: Mickey Mantle
Do you remember a decade ago when one scout was scoffed at for comparing Trout to Mickey Mantle? Well, that comparison has proven to be warranted. Not only do their career numbers line up very closely—especially adjusting for era—but Trout has already produced 65% of Mantle’s career value via WAR (73.4 to 112.3) in just 50% of the playing time.
As you can see, Trout is on pace or ahead of pace to surpass Mantle’s numbers in most categories. He’s played in almost exactly half as many games, with slightly more PA per game. The only categories he’s behind on are walks (fewer) and strikeouts (more). He is a tiny bit behind on RBI and OBP, but both are rounded to 50% so basically even.
A couple things seem likely to occur, going forward: One, Trout will end up with significantly more games played and PA; a conservative estimate would put him at at least 2500 games played, and that’s assuming zero games in 2020 and averaging 130 for the remaining ten years of his contract (2021-30), with no games played beyond that. He could very well end up with 2700 or more games played. Two, his rate statistics will likely go down, at least by the end of his career. The vast majority of players are better through age 27 than they are after, and while Trout’s numbers might go up for a few more years—assuming he maintains his current peak production—they’ll inevitably dip, with the possible exception of walks and home runs, as both tend to maintain or improve during the 30s. But chances are he’ll finish somewhere close to Mantle.
The point being: The early comps to Mantle were quite justified. We Angels fans hope that he can combine Mantle’s perhaps unsurpassed talent with at least some of Willie Mays’ longevity.