Imagine signing the largest contract in professional sports history and yet the general consensus is that you’re still being underpaid? Welcome to the life of Mike Trout.
Mike Trout is finalizing a 12-year, $430 million extension with the Los Angeles Angels, which would be the richest contract in professional sports, breaking the 13-year, $330 million contract that was signed by Bryce Harper almost three weeks ago. Trout’s contract has an AAV of $35.8 million, which is also a record. If Trout became a free agent in 2020, the bidding war for his services would have been insane. Teams would have easily surpassed the $500 million threshold had he listened to other offers and there’s no doubt in my mind that Trout would have gotten to $500 million. He’s worth every single penny so congrats to the Angels for locking down a once-in-generation player for a bargain.
Mike Trout is universally regarded as the best player in baseball. In fact, Trout is one of the greatest baseball players of all-time through his first 8 years. There’s historic numbers, and then there’s Mike Trout numbers. Let’s take a look at some of Trout’s stats. I hope you are sitting down because they are mind boggling. Also, remember that Trout is only 27-years old and has played in 8 seasons. (Trout debuted in 2011, but only played in 40 games in his first season.)
- Career .307/.416/.573 hitter with 240 home runs, 648 RBIs, 793 runs and 189 stolen bases.
- Trout’s career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is 64.3. That’s the highest ever by a player entering his age-27 season. The average Hall of Fame WAR is 69.
- In 7 full seasons, Trout has been a All-Star 7 times.
- Trout has been the MVP or runner-up in 6 of 7 full seasons (2 MVPs, 4 runner ups). The only time he was not the MVP or runner-up happened in 2017 due to injury. Trout only finished fourth in MVP voting that season.
Value of the G.O.A.T
As you can see, Mike Trout’s value is priceless. If the Angels paid him $1 billion, Trout still lives up to that contract. If he retires today, he’s in the Hall of Fame.
Although Trout is the best player in the MLB, he’s the furthest thing from a rockstar. In fact, Mike Trout is not as popular as you would think. Last year, Trout ranked 11th in jersey sales. There has been a narrative forming that the MLB does not market Trout enough and some of that has truth to it. Trout and the Angels are scheduled to be on national television 10 times with three of them being out-of-market only games on MLBN. The Angels are not very good and the MLB tends to focus on rivalries in big markets for national games (Think Red Sox – Yankees), but wouldn’t it make sense to put Trout on national TV especially when he travels to the East Coast? To put this into perspective, LeBron James, arguably the greatest player, and the Lakers are scheduled to make 31 appearances on national TV in 2018-2019. It also hurts that Trout has only played in 3 playoff games, which is more of a reflection on how poorly the Angels have been since 2011.
Plus, Trout is very laid-back and low key. He doesn’t crave the spotlight or make it a point of emphasis to become a star, which frustrates Rob Manfred, who said, “He [Trout] has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort.” I live in New York. If Mike Trout were to walk down a New York City street in regular clothing, out of 10 people, how many people would recognize him? One, maybe two? Seriously, if you saw the greatest baseball player in the world at a deli in NYC with his wife, would you recognize him?
It’s not a knock that Mike Trout doesn’t want to be a huge star in the public realm. That’s just how he rolls. Trout deserves to do whatever he wants. And you know what? He has earned that right. Instead of focusing on how to make Mike Trout bigger star, let’s just appreciate him for what he is, which is the greatest baseball player on Earth.