How Mike Trout stacks up to MLB’s greats over his first 1,000 games

It seems like yesterday that Mike Trout was called up to the majors in 2011, still a teenager. It seems like yesterday when he had a rookie season for the ages in 2012 and we had that bare-knuckle MVP debate between Trout and Miguel Cabrera. Trout is having his best season yet, leading the majors in home runs (23), runs (62), walks (67), OBP (.471), OPS (1.155) and WAR (6.6). Somehow, he’s also played 1,000 career games. With the milestone reached, let’s compare some of his numbers to how some other famous ballplayers did through 1,000 games.

The number: 1,126

That’s Trout’s career hits total. Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader, was at 1,231 hits through 1,000 career games, so in theory Trout isn’t too far behind Rose. Except you’re not going to catch Rose from behind. Rose actually got more hits in his next thousand games than his first thousand — 1,289. He was also an amazingly durable player all the way into his 40s. Plus, singles aren’t Trout’s game, and he draws too many walks to get the 200 hits a year that Rose did. So this is one record Trout probably won’t be chasing down … unless he plays until he’s 48. Hey, Julio Franco did it. — David Schoenfield

All-Time Leader Mike Trout
Hits Pete Rose, 1,231 1,126
TB Hank Aaron, 2,221 2,100
HR Barry Bonds, 172 224
Runs Rickey Henderson, 795 754
BB Barry Bonds, 603 638
WAR Barry Bonds, 50 61.7

The number: 2

  • A quarter of the way through the MLB schedule, the all-world Angels outfielder is on a run for the ages.

  • Just how good is Mike Trout? He’s so good, it took three rounds of swapping astounding stats to decide which numbers best cement his growing stature in baseball history.

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That’s the longest streak of games, since Trout was called up for good in April 2012, in which he failed to reach base. Two! Willie Mays had three streaks of at least three goose eggs during his first 1,000 games played, Barry Bonds had a streak of four and three threes, Ken Griffey Jr. had a four and a three, and even Ted Williams — the most precocious on-base machine in history — airballed three straight games in 1939, when he was 20. The Angels’ hitters alone have managed 197 streaks of three games or longer since 2012 (excluding their pitchers), but Trout is slump-proof. Indeed, he has 13 “streaks” of two games without reaching base, and in the 13 games following them he has hit .326/.412/.558. There’s no such thing as a cold Mike Trout; just hot Mike Trout and regular Mike Trout. — Sam Miller

The number: 61.7

Chuck Finley’s career WAR in an Angels uniform was 52.1, most in franchise history, so our man blew past Finley last season. Finley was a terrific pitcher: He won 200 games, made five All-Star teams (four with the Angels) and had three 7-WAR seasons. Still, it took him 14 seasons to get 50 WAR.

Trout’s dominance over the best position players in Angels history is even more pronounced. Jim Fregosi (45.9 in 1,429 games) and Tim Salmon (40.6 in 1,672 games) rank second and third on the WAR list. What’s most interesting is the Angels have never had a longtime superstar position player. Rod Carew won seven batting titles, but all came with the Twins. They traded Jim Edmonds when he had plenty left in the tank. Vladimir Guerrero won an MVP award, but his best seasons came with the Expos. Troy Glaus got hurt and was traded away. Put it this way: The six best offensive seasons in Angels history all belong to Trout, via Baseball-Reference.com’s offensive WAR. It will be the top seven after 2018 and probably the top eight after 2019 and the top nine after 2020. And then Trout becomes a free agent and all hell breaks loose. — Schoenfield

Rank Franchise Leader
Hits 1,126 8th Garret Anderson (2,368)
HR 224 4th Tim Salmon (299)
Runs 754 5th Garret Anderson (1,024)
RBIs 617 8th Garret Anderson (1,292)
BB 638 4th Tim Salmon (970)
SB 178 3rd Chone Figgins (280)
HBP 57 5th Brian Downing (105)

The number: 37.0

Trout’s win probability added — the cumulative change in the Angels’ win probability before he comes to the plate and afterward — is the third highest, through 1,000 career games, by any hitter since 1920. He’s alone in third place, just ahead of Albert Pujols (36.5). Trout is obviously a phenomenal hitter, but it’s easy to miss that he also has been a very timely one, with the eighth-highest OPS (through age 26) with runners in scoring position. In his first 1,000 games, he has had a positive WPA in 572 of them, more than anybody but Frank Thomas and Pujols. — Miller

Mike Trout leads the majors with 23 homers this season. Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

The number: .308

That’s Trout’s career batting average — better than Ken Griffey Jr.’s .303 mark through his first 1,000 games. Maybe this doesn’t surprise you, but as somebody who lived in Seattle during peak Griffey and watched most of those 1,000 games, I still envision the young Griffey as a line-drive machine who also mixed in towering home runs. Griffey did hit .327 in 1991 and .323 in 1994, but the cumulative average is dragged down by a .264 mark as a rookie and .258 in 1995, when he broke his wrist. As Griffey got into his mid-20s, I think he became much more pull-conscious at the plate. This resulted in back-to-back 56-homer seasons, but made him a little more susceptible to outside pitches, and in his final two seasons in Seattle he hit .284 and .285. He ended up with eight .300 seasons, but only one of those after age 27. Oh, and note this: Trout’s career OPS+ of 175 is higher than Griffey’s single-season high of 171. His average season is better than the best of an inner-circle all-time great. — Schoenfield

Through 1,000 games, Mike Trout has a .989 OPS. That’s higher than these players through 1,000 games:

  • Willie Mays (.976)

  • Mel Ott (.965)

  • Alex Rodriguez (.952)

  • Frank Robinson (.951)

  • Rogers Hornsby (.940)

  • Hank Aaron (.929)

  • Ken Griffey Jr. (.928)

  • Barry Bonds (.882)


He has 638 walks. That’s more than these players through 1,000 games:

  • Barry Bonds (603)

  • Mel Ott (552)

  • Albert Pujols (529)

  • Stan Musial (525)

  • Willie Mays (472)


He has a .414 OBP. That’s higher than these players through 1,000 games:

  • Rogers Hornsby (.408)

  • Joe DiMaggio (.402)

  • Rickey Henderson (.401)

  • Willie Mays (.390)

  • Frank Robinson (.387)


He has 216 doubles. That’s more than these players through 1,000 games:

  • Rogers Hornsby (210)

  • Mel Ott (198)

  • Willie Mays (185)

  • Roberto Clemente (176)

  • Mickey Mantle (174)


He has a .574 slugging percentage. That’s higher than these players through 1,000 games:

  • Frank Robinson (.565)

  • Stan Musial (.564)

  • Hank Aaron (.560)

  • Mel Ott (.552)

  • Ken Griffey Jr. (.548)


He has 224 homers. That’s more than these players through 1,000 games:

  • Ted Williams (220)

  • Mickey Mantle (218)

  • Mike Schmidt (213)

  • Lou Gehrig (212)

  • Hank Aaron (211)


He has 483 extra-base hits. That’s more than these players through 1,000 games:

  • Frank Robinson (475)

  • Ken Griffey Jr. (459)

  • Barry Bonds (427)

The number: 2,974

Trout’s genius, it has been said many times, is less one skill than a collection of them. He doesn’t necessarily lead the league in any individual stat every year, but he’s always near the top in everything, and in any single year he can lead the league in almost anything. He hits singles, he hits for power, he draws walks, he steals bases.

So that number above is how many “total” bases we figure he has been responsible for: everything he’s generated with singles, doubles, triples and homers, but also walks, hit-by-pitches and stolen bases. Only four hitters rank above him through 1,000 games, and the names on the list — Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Frank Thomas, Hank Greenberg — all hint at the further greatness of Trout: it’s two first basemen, a left fielder and a designated hitter. Trout is an above-average defensive center fielder. He could hit .240 without power and he’d have had a long major league career, but instead he hits like Ted Williams and Frank Thomas. — Miller

The number: 638

That’s Trout’s career walks total. OK, setting the all-time mark for walks isn’t going to lead to mass hysteria and SportsCenter specials, but walks are good. Walks are not outs. Walks lead to runs. Trout is on his way to leading the American League in runs for the fifth time and that’s because he gets on base a lot. Anyway, Barry Bonds is the career leader in walks and he had 603 through 1,000 games, so Trout is ahead of his pace.

The catch: That was well before pitchers just stopped pitching to Bonds. His first 1,000 games takes him to late September 1992, his final season with the Pirates. That was the first year he led the league in walks, with 127 — including 32 intentional. At that point, he averaged 0.60 walks per game. Over the rest of his career, he averaged 0.98 walks per game. Things got obscene when Bonds broke baseball from 2001 to 2004: He averaged 189 walks per season and received a ridiculous 232 free passes in 2004 — an absurd 120 of them intentional. If you weren’t watching baseball in 2004, you wouldn’t believe the numbers.

Now, the game has changed in the decade-plus since Bonds’ crazy peak and intentional walks aren’t issued with the same overall frequency, but Trout has received just 69 intentional walks in his career. Trout is a patient hitter, but no batter ever controlled the strike zone like Bonds, with the possible exception of Ted Williams. Trout is on pace for 131 walks this season. That would leave him 1,856 walks short of Bonds’ record of 2,558. He would need to average 130 walks per season for 14.3 more seasons to catch Bonds. It’s possible; Trout would be 41. — Schoenfield

Mike Trout was the MVP of the 2015 All-Star Game. Rob Carr/Getty Images

The numbers: 178 steals, 224 homers

Remember, when Trout came up, this was the scouting report: “He projects to hit 18-25 home runs annually.” He was strong and it was thought he would eventually grow into that power projection, but he was a 10-homer guy in the minors. He was never supposed to be the guy who would lead the league in dingers, or challenge 50. This year, he’s on pace to do both.

Also, when Trout came up, this was the scouting report: “There are fair concerns about him remaining a burner, as 220-pound 80 runners are unheard of.” He was going to be a game-changing runner initially, but speed ages early and hard, and particularly with Trout’s size and the demands of his position it was likely he’d become a different, more stationary player. This year, he’s on pace to steal 29 without getting caught.

We’re almost 1,000 games in: He’s one of the great power hitters of all time, against the odds. He’s still one of the great runners in the game, against the odds. He could go 50/30 this year. Nobody has ever done that, but then, nobody has ever had more home runs and steals through 1,000 games than Trout. — Miller

BA XBH SB
Mike Trout .308 483 178
Willie Mays .316 494 169
Alex Rodriguez .311 510 152
>>Source: Elias Sports Bureau

The number: 74

He already has as much or more WAR than 74 position-player Hall of Famers and more than 56 modern-era Hall of Fame players at any non-pitcher position. That includes modern legends such as Mike Piazza, Vladimir Guerrero, Willie Stargell and Kirby Puckett, or less-recent legends such Harmon Killebrew, Yogi Berra, Hank Greenberg, Joe Medwick or George Sisler.

Trout hasn’t even played the minimum 10 seasons needed for eligibility. — Schoenfield

The number: 26 years, 318 days

That’s how old he’ll be when he plays game No. 1,000, and don’t underestimate either what an accomplishment it is to reach 1,000 so young, nor how significant it could end up being to his legacy. Trout made his debut young, established himself as a regular almost immediately, has stayed healthy for almost his entire career, and rarely takes a day off. Only 35 players reached game 1,000 at a younger age.

As we start thinking about where Trout will end up in his career, that’s going to matter. It’s not just that he has outhomered Bonds through 1,000 games, or that he has more WAR, but that he’s a year younger than Bonds was at this point. According to ZiPS projections, Trout has an estimated 25 percent chance of breaking Bonds’ WAR record, and a 10 percent chance of breaking the home runs record. Beyond those, Trout has outside shots at breaking the records for career runs or hits. — Miller

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this piece.

www.espn.com – MLB

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