clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mike Trout has highest WAR for any player in baseball history through his age-27 season

Having accomplished so much, so young puts Trout on the Hall of Fame fast track.

With a 72.6 fWAR, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the all-time leader in wins above replacement for position players through their age-27 season,
With a 72.6 fWAR, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the all-time leader in wins above replacement for position players through their age-27 season,
David Maxwell/Getty Images

The White Sox head west to play the Angels this weekend, and that means an encounter with baseball history.

With a 72.6 fWAR, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the all-time leader in wins above replacement for position players through their age-27 season, with yearly ages set as of June 30.

Fangraphs.com lists other position players over 60 as Ty Cobb (68.8), Mickey Mantle (67.9), Rogers Hornsby (64.6), Jimmy Foxx (64.6), Alex Rodriguez (62.0) and Mel Ott (61.5).

You could put an asterisk by Babe Ruth, who is 15th at 51.9 but didn’t become a full-time outfielder until age 24. Through age 27, he also put up 12.1 pitching WAR.

For the Cubs, the fWAR leaders through age 27 are Ron Santo (44.0), Billy Herman (30.1) and Ernie Banks (30.0). For the White Sox, they’re Frank Thomas (35.4), Robin Ventura (26.6) and Chet Lemon (22.8).

Having accomplished so much, so young puts Trout on the Hall of Fame fast track. All eligible players who reached 60 WAR through age 27 are in the Hall.

It doesn’t necessarily put him on a track to become No. 1 overall. Once Ruth was in the lineup every day, he couldn’t be stopped. He has the top four fWAR seasons in history, topped by 15.0 in 1923. His 168.4 position-player WAR tops Barry Bonds’ 164.4 as the best in history (without including Ruth’s 12.4 pitching WAR).

Bonds got there with an unprecedented finishing kick, with a career-high 12.7 at age 37. Four of his five best fWAR seasons came at 36 or older. Willie Mays was at 49.3 through age 27 but added 100.6 from age 28 on to rank third at 149.9. It’s not until the No. 4 player, Cobb at 149.3, that one of the 60-by-27 crowd makes the overall list.

Here’s how the top fast-starters behind Trout fared from age 28 on:

• Cobb: 80.5 fWAR from 28 onward, 149.3 total, fourth overall.

• Mantle: 44.4 fWAR from 28 onward, 112.3 total, 14th overall.

• Hornsby: 65.7 fWAR from 28 onward, 130.3 total, ninth overall.

• Foxx: 37.2 fWAR from 28 onward, 101.8 total, 20th overall.

• Rodriguez: 51.8 fWAR from 28 onward, 113.8 total, 13th overall.

• Ott: 49.0 fWAR from 28 onward, 110.5 total, 15th overall.

Four of the six players on that list had more WAR through age 27 than in the rest of their careers. Age and injuries take their toll, and most players are showing decline by age 30.

Trout is showing no decline just yet. Slashing .297/.439/.668, Trout leads the majors at 185 weighted runs created plus and 7.7 fWAR to Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich’s 179 wRC+ and 6.4 fWAR.

To become the all-time WAR leader, Trout would need to exceed his big start from here on. At double his current fWAR, the 145.2 total would be 23.2 shy of Ruth, without including the Babe’s mound work.

You don’t have to pencil in Trout as one of the best of all time. Indelible marker will do. But becoming THE best will require a finish as amazing as the start.