Mike Trout, Out of Context

Recently, Mike Trout was officially named the Most Valuable Player in the American League. To celebrate, let’s take Trout out of context and put him in a new one.

Part of the reason many fans believed Trout was more valuable than Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013 was his home park. Angel Stadium is a pitcher’s park, whereas Comerica Park in Detroit is pretty average for hitters. In 2012, when Trout won AL Rookie of the Year but finished behind Cabrera for AL MVP, park effects played a huge, obvious role in the voting results. If you take out the home field and just look at road games, Trout’s batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage were all better than Cabrera’s:

Cabrera:         .327 / .384 / .529
Trout:             .332 / .407 / .544

Furthermore, this is a tough time to objectively evaluate hitters. Offensive production isn’t nearly at the level it was five or ten years ago, so stats that would’ve looked pedestrian in 2004 now lead the league. It’s tough to appreciate the greatness of a young player like Trout in a depressed offensive environment. So let’s take Mike Trout out of that environment and put him in a better one: Coors Field. From 1998-2001.

Using the Neutralized Batting tool at Baseball-Reference, I moved Mike Trout’s career back in time by 13 seasons and put him on the Colorado Rockies. Here are the horrifying numbers this produced:

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI
1998/2001 19 40 145 130 29 34 7 0 6 23
1999/2012 20 139 728 623 207 246 36 11 40 133
2000/2013 21 157 834 661 179 262 54 13 38 159
2001/2014 22 157 782 652 172 223 51 12 46 166
TOTAL   493 2489 2066 587 765 148 36 130 481

You’ll notice that in Trout’s rookie season (1999/2012), he broke Billy Hamilton‘s century-old single-season record for runs scored. The following year, he made 834 plate appearances and tied Ichiro Suzuki’s single-season hits record, while pounding out 105 extra-base hits. This past season was his third straight with 220 hits, and he drove in 166 runs. He has a combined 338-340 runs + RBI in each full season. More stats:

1998/2011 19 40 145 5 12 59 .262 .331 .454 .785
1999/2012 20 139 728 67 90 424 .395 .473 .681 1.154
2000/2013 21 157 834 45 152 456 .396 .512 .690 1.202
2001/2014 22 157 782 20 107 436 .342 .439 .669 1.108
TOTAL   493 2489 137 361 1375 .370 .467 .666 1.132

Let’s get right to the point here: Coors Field Mike Trout has a slugging percentage of .666, because this version of the man is obviously the devil (or possibly Ty Cobb). His career slash line is .370/.467/.666, for an OPS of 1.132. He stole 67 bases as a rookie, batting .395. For an encore the next season, he walked 152 times and still gained 456 total bases. This was possible because he hit .396/.512/.690. This most recent season (the MVP year) was comparably pedestrian, but it was his third straight season with over 420 total bases.

The 2000/2013 season is particularly nuts. Trout made 834 PA, so that’s obviously part of it, but he had 262 hits and 152 walks (plus 13 HBP). That’s 427 times on base. No, seriously.

And this is just batting. Other than the stolen bases, we haven’t said anything about his (excellent) baserunning, or his defense, which was sensational in 2012. Trout is a great player in any context, but in pre-humidor Coors Field, he is a terrifying offensive force. Congratulations, Mr. Trout.

We hoped you liked reading Mike Trout, Out of Context by Brad Oremland!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

Brad Oremland is a columnist for Sports Central, where he writes mostly about the NFL. He roots for baseball teams named after birds, except the Blue Jays.

newest oldest most voted

Even in pre-humidor Coors, Trout never hit .400, just shows how hard it really is to do that nowadays

a eskpert
a eskpert

The thing is, Barry Bonds hit better than that in a pitcher’s park.


Using Fangraphs’ park factors page which converts 1B/2B/3B/HR/BB, Barry Bonds’ 2001 season in 2001 Coors Field would have produced 103 HR and a .415/.589/1.166 line.