Mike Trout is one of the greatest baseball players to ever take the field. Some would argue, that given today’s pitcher-dominated league, Trout is the greatest player of all time. So why does no one talk about him?
To qualify: baseball fans know exactly who Mike Trout is, and there’s really no debate that he’s the best player in baseball, and has been for years. He is plenty talked about on baseball-focused media coverage. But does the casual sports fan even know who he is?
Think of it this way: in other American professional sports, any player in the GOAT conversation is just as well-known and recognizable as the most famous of celebrities. LeBron James. Tom Brady. Serena Williams. Show a picture of these people and chances are even the most clueless sports fans can identify them with ease.
Show a non-sports-inclined person a picture of Mike Trout and you’ll probably get mostly blank stares. Even appearance aside, just his name—who hasn’t heard of LeBron or Brady—but Trout? That’s a fish, not a baseball player.
We are likely watching the greatest player any of us will see in our lifetimes, and he’s barely a household name.
Here’s what Trout has done in his already-Hall-of-Fame-worthy seven seasons in the majors. His career slash line is .306/.410/.568. He has over 1000 hits and 200 home runs. He’s been an All-Star six times, and has won MVP twice. His wins above replacement (WAR), which essentially combines a player’s offensive and defensive value, is on pace to be the highest of all time. Oh, and he’s only 26 years old.
As always, he’s picked up right where he left off, batting .309 with a league-leading eight home runs so far this season.
Perhaps what sets Trout apart from the greats of baseball past is that he’s far more than just a hitter. He possesses great speed, topping 30 stolen bases three different seasons in a time when stolen bases are way down across the league. More importantly, he is a phenomenal centerfielder, routinely robbing home runs and making diving grabs look effortless.
I’m not here to argue that Trout is the greatest player of all time, although I certainly believe there is a legitimate case to be made for that argument. Instead, I beg that we begin to appreciate the greatest player of a generation.
Is it a baseball problem? To an extent, yes. Clayton Kershaw may very well be the greatest pitcher in league history, and while he certainly gets more national attention than Trout, he’s still vastly underrecognized given how consistently dominant he is. The MLB needs to do a better job of marketing stars outside of Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa. But the problem is also specific to Trout.
Trout is certainly a victim of circumstance. He plays for the Angels, and has only ever played for the Angels. Not of any fault of Trout, but the Angels haven’t been very good in his career. It’s tough to draw national attention when your team is trapped in mediocrity.
Trout is also perhaps too well-spoken for his own good. He has a vibrant personality, but he never says the wrong things, and therefore stays out of the news. He’s exactly the type of player and person that you want your Little Leaguer to aspire to be, and maybe that’s exactly why you won’t find his name in the headlines.
This season, the Angels have finally put some pieces around Trout (like Shohei Ohtani), and are actually making some noise on the field. They’re still a couple seasons away from contending, but hopefully Trout will be able to add to his three-game postseason career in the near future.
That said, we shouldn’t need a postseason platform to appreciate Trout as a player and role model. Excuse the overused expression, but we are lucky to be able to tell future generations we grew up watching Mike Trout. No player in MLB history has ever been this consistently great on both sides of the ball—make sure you’re watching.
Andrew Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets at @asmor24