Trout can play Hall of Famer leapfrog this year

January 18th, 2024

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The bad news for Angels fans is that has played only 237 games over the past three seasons -- an average of just 79 per year.

The good news is he still has produced at an elite level in those limited opportunities.

Despite four stints on the injured list -- including two on the 60-day IL -- Trout has posted a .962 OPS and a 162 OPS+ from 2021-23. Oh, and Trout's 162-game averages for those three seasons: 45 home runs, 97 RBIs, 111 runs and 7.5 bWAR.

In other words, Mike Trout is still very much Mike Trout … when healthy.

Trout, who played only one game after sustaining a left hamate fracture on July 3 last season, should be fully healthy when the Angels report for Spring Training next month. And while he has had those four IL stints over the past three seasons, he was placed on the IL just twice in his first 10 seasons combined.

So if Trout can stay healthy, what are some reasonable expectations for 2024?

Well, Steamer projections on FanGraphs forecast 37 home runs, 95 RBIs, 100 runs and -- perhaps most important -- 146 games for Trout. It's safe to say Angels fans (and baseball fans, in general) would gladly sign up for that type of production from the 32-year-old Trout.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some milestones Trout could reach -- and some of the legends he could pass -- in 2024:

Home run leaderboard 
Trout enters this season ranked 84th all-time with 368 career home runs. Even by hitting only 18 last season, when his hamate injury limited him to 82 games, Trout moved past Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio (361), Johnny Mize (359) and Yogi Berra (358), among many other iconic sluggers.

If Trout hits 37 home runs this season, as projected by Steamer, he not only would become the 59th member of the 400-home run club, but he also would leap over the following Hall of Famers:

  • Al Kaline: 399
  • Johnny Bench: 389
  • Harold Baines: 384
  • Larry Walker: 383
  • Jim Rice: 382
  • Orlando Cepeda: 379
  • Tony Perez: 379
  • Carlton Fisk: 376
  • Gil Hodges: 370
  • Ralph Kiner: 369

Some of the other notable players Trout would pass include Dale Murphy (398), Joe Carter (396), Ryan Howard (382), Albert Belle (381) and 2024 Hall of Fame hopeful Todd Helton (369).

400/200/50 club 
With just 32 homers, Trout would become the eighth player with 400 homers, 200 stolen bases and 50 triples, joining Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, Andre Dawson and Carlos Beltrán. Only Aaron (.305) and Mays (.301) did so while maintaining a .300 career batting average. (Trout enters 2024 with a .301 average.)

WAR leaderboard
Trout’s 85.2 career bWAR ranks first among active players and 52nd on the all-time list. To put that in perspective, each of the top 66 players in career WAR are in the Hall of Fame, except for three players with PED concerns (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez), three who will almost certainly be inducted but aren’t yet eligible (Albert Pujols, Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw) and one who will likely be voted in next week (Adrián Beltré).

And despite Trout’s abbreviated 2023 campaign, he still moved past Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez and Fergie Jenkins, among others, in career WAR.

As for what’s next, Trout has accumulated at least 6.3 WAR in every season in which he has played at least 100 games. If he accounts for 6.3 WAR this season, his 91.5 career WAR would move him past the following nine Hall of Famers:

  • Wade Boggs: 91.4
  • Eddie Plank: 90.8
  • Steve Carlton: 90.2
  • Gaylord Perry: 90.0
  • Bob Gibson: 89.1
  • George Brett: 88.6
  • Tim Keefe: 86.9
  • Robin Roberts: 86.2
  • Chipper Jones: 85.3

Extra-base-hit leaderboard 
Trout has 730 extra-base hits, giving him a realistic chance to reach 800 this season, though the aforementioned Steamer model is projecting him to come up just short. It is forecasting 67 extra-base hits (37 homers, 28 doubles and two triples) for Trout, which could give him 797 – and move him past these 15 Hall of Famers:

  • Roberto Alomar: 794
  • Johnny Bench: 794
  • Hank Greenberg: 781
  • Zack Wheat: 780
  • Mike Piazza: 779
  • Lou Brock: 776
  • Dan Brouthers: 775
  • Ron Santo: 774
  • Chuck Klein: 772
  • Earl Averill: 767
  • Tony Gwynn: 763
  • Heinie Manush: 761
  • Ryne Sandberg: 761
  • Wade Boggs: 757
  • Enos Slaughter: 730

Four-time MVP club?
And lastly, does Trout have it in him to return to an MVP level? He finished in the top five in the AL MVP voting in each of his first nine full seasons before these past three injury-ravaged campaigns. And he still finished eighth in MVP voting in 2022 despite playing only 119 games.

Trout is one of 11 players to win at least three MVP Awards. If he can win a fourth, he would join Bonds (seven) as the only players in MLB history to win more than three MVP Awards.