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Consistent greatness in sports is incredibly difficult to achieve. There are off years and injuries and aging and all sorts of other factors conspiring to keep athletes from remaining at the very top of their sport for long stretches. And yet in the rare instances when someone comes along and actually does it, they’re often taken for granted eventually. Michael Jordan won “only” five MVP awards despite most media, fans, and players agreeing that he was the best player for perhaps twice that many seasons, because on some level a fatigue set in. The best player in the world being the best player in the world became monotonous.

Mike Trout is the best baseball player in the world and has been for a while now. He’s completed five full seasons and, in my opinion, deserved no fewer than four and possibly as many as five MVP awards. He actually received “only” two, finishing runner-up in 2012, 2013, and 2015. I’m not here to relitigate those votes, in part because it’s a well-worn subject by this point and in part because Trout is bigger than MVP awards. Whether he ends up winning three or six or nine, his standing among the inner-circle of all-time greats will be secure. Trout is a generational talent to whom future greatness will forever be compared.

But just in case, Trout has apparently decided to take it upon himself to avoid causing that Jordan-style fatigue in others by upping his performance even further. Trout has gotten off to strong starts every year since he became a regular in 2012, but this season is on another level. He’s hitting .342/.465/.753 in 42 games, leading both leagues in on-base percentage and slugging percentage while posting an MLB-high 1.218 OPS that would top his previous career-high by more than 200 points. It seems crazy to say about someone who has been the best since age 20, but Trout appears to be entering his prime at age 25.

(The swing that got Trout to 50 WARP.)

Tuesday night, in going 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk versus the Rays, he reached 50 WARP for his career. There are a not-insignificant number of Hall of Famers with fewer than 50 WARP for their career. It is, if you’ll be so forgiving as to excuse my language for just a moment, a shitload of WARP. Not only has Trout cracked 50 WARP through age 25, he’s done so less than one-third of the way through his age-25 season. He’s still got another 100-plus games to add to his total, which is already the second-most WARP through age 25 by any position player since 1950:

55.2 WARP — Mickey Mantle
50.0 WARP — Mike Trout
42.9 WARP — Alex Rodriguez
40.7 WARP — Frank Robinson
39.9 WARP — Hank Aaron
39.6 WARP — Albert Pujols
39.2 WARP — Rickey Henderson
38.3 WARP — Al Kaline

(Bert Blyleven leads all pitchers with 48.7 WARP through age 25.)

Trout is still staring up at Mantle, although perhaps not for long. And every other position player is at least 7.1 WARP—a total that qualifies as an MVP-caliber season—behind Trout. Or, put another way: Think of how amazing young Alex Rodriguez was—with a batting title at 20, three straight 40-homer seasons from 22-24, and a 50-homer season at 25—and now tack on an extra MVP-caliber year. Do that and he’d equal Trout, except Trout will be tacking on to his total for the next four-plus months. Mantle’s place atop the through-age-25 WARP leaderboard is in some serious jeopardy.

Despite sitting out six of the Angels’ first 48 games with a hamstring injury, Trout has totaled an MLB-high 3.3 WARP this season. Even if he continued to miss six of every 48 games—unlikely, considering he was out of the lineup no more than five times in any of the previous four seasons—that would put him on pace for 11.3 WARP. Maintaining his current production and staying healthy would push him toward 12 WARP. Of course, even Trout probably can’t keep hitting .342/.465/.753 all season. Trout has topped 8.5 WARP in each of the past five seasons, averaging 9.3 WARP during that span, and reached 10.0 WARP in two of those years. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that he finishes 2017 with exactly 10.0 WARP.

Here’s what the new through-age-25 WARP leaderboard would look like:

56.7 WARP — Mike Trout
55.2 WARP — Mickey Mantle
42.9 WARP — Alex Rodriguez
40.7 WARP — Frank Robinson
39.9 WARP — Hank Aaron
39.6 WARP — Albert Pujols
39.2 WARP — Rickey Henderson
38.3 WARP — Al Kaline

But wait, you say, what if Trout slows down considerably this season and—gasp!—perhaps even falls into a slump at some point. That would obviously take 12.0 WARP or even 10.0 WARP off the table, but here’s the fun part: To pass Mantle’s career total through age 25, Trout will need to finish this season with at least 8.6 WARP, which coincidentally happens to be his career-worst WARP total, from his rookie season in 2012. Barring a major injury or a prolonged stretch well below even the worst production of Trout’s career, he’s going to pass Mantle by the end of the season. And maybe well before then.

Who knows whether 30 writers will cast enough votes for Trout five months from now to give him a third MVP award or merely hand him a fourth runner-up. What we do know is that he’s running neck and neck with Mickey Mantle for the title of best player ever through age 25, and in doing so he’s leaving the other contenders—inner-circle greats like Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Albert Pujols, Rickey Henderson, and Al Kaline—in his dust. Mike Trout is beyond great and, scary as it sounds, the consistent level of MVP-ness he previously established might just be a jumping-off point for his mid-20s peak.

Don’t allow yourself to have Mike Trout fatigue. Fight through it.

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tearecrules
5/24
It's a shame that Trout was drafted so low. Otherwise someone would be a great bit of baseball trivia, but when there are 24 people ahead of him you just can't get that Sam Bowie-type answer. It's too unwieldy to list off the an entire MLB roster of "Not Mike Trout" people.
badvlad555
5/24
And yet it's been done! http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=28649
Yatchisin
5/24
Great nugget from that article: " Would he really have a .339/.436/.624 slash if he’d spent his first four years in Coors Field, as B-Ref's stat-translator toy says?" Well, so far this season (SSS, sure), Trout's beating his Coors Field translation.
oldbopper
5/25
Back in the 50's military service was a fact of life and Willie was deprived of his chance to be very high on the list. His age 23 season, 1954, will always be the benchmark for performance to me. He simply was the best hitter, fielder and base runner in the game. Reconstructing WARP for that year and the others do not do him justice.
morpheusq
5/30
You jinxed it.