Why Mike Trout Is Not Overrated

London Hayes, Reporter

It’s honestly kind of sad that one of the best baseball players in the past century is underappreciated. He compares stat-wise to the likes of Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Barry Bonds (yes I know he took steroids), and has already surpassed so many great players who made a huge impact on the league many years ago. In the end, Mike Trout will enter the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame whether he has a championship ring or not, so appreciate him while he’s still here.

To “overrate” is to have a higher opinion of someone or something compared to the recognition that they actually deserve. Reasons some may think that Mike Trout is overrated include “He’s never won a World Series!”, or “Why don’t the Angels make the playoffs every year if he’s so good?” Other reasons that some may come up with could include his statistics, which don’t make that much sense because he puts up some of the best overall seasons that anyone has ever seen. But, because he doesn’t hit .350 and win the World Series every year, some think he’s overrated. This article will take you on a trip down sabermetric road and show you why Mike Trout is not only in some cases underrated, but how he puts up some of the most ridiculous numbers of all time. Most of these stats will be taken from the 2019 season, due to it being the last full season that he has played.


What statistics will be used you might ask? We could stay with the general stats that the casual baseball fan may be aware of, (HRs, RBIs, OPS, OBP, SLG%) but instead we will use some more advanced statistics (OPS+, WRC+, & wOBA) to show you how above and beyond Mike Trout really is as a baseball player compared to the rest of the league. The thing about Mike Trout is that he excels in every  aspect of the game. He hits for contact and power, gets on base at an extremely high rate, has a vacuum for a glove, and a cannon for an arm out in center field. Not to mention his well above average speed that has helped him accumulate 201 stolen bases in his eight and a half years  in the league. After these stats are used, it will be explained what they are and what they mean, so you have a better understanding of what we’re talking about. With that, let’s get started. 


OPS is short for “on base plus slugging,” and is exactly what it sounds like. It takes a player’s OBP (on base percentage) and SLG% (slugging percentage) and adds them together. In 2020 Mike Trout posted the a .993  OPS in only 53 games. His highest single season OPS came during the 2018 season in which he recorded a whopping 1.083 OPS. As you can see on the chart posted below, Mike Trout is quite literally off the charts in regards to the rest of baseball. Even in his worst season he posted a .939 OPS in 2014, which is still a great place to be at. Not to mention, he still won MVP in 2014. 

OPS Chart via https://library.fangraphs.com/offense/ops/


The only issue with OPS is that when you add a player’s OBP & SLG% together, you are treating OBP as if it has the same value as SLG%. SLG% is almost 2x more valuable in terms of it’s effect on run scoring. But have no fear, OPS+ is here. OPS+ (on base plus slugging plus) normalizes a player’s OPS, and adjusts for variables such as the ballpark they are playing in, etc. Even though it may sound a little complicated, it’s pretty easy to grasp once you get a handle on it. League average OPS+ will always be set at 100. Mike Trout posted a 168; yes 168 OPS+ last season. Meaning he was 68% above league average in getting on base and driving in runs. That’s not all though, in 2018 he posted a 198 OPS+, meaning his OPS was 98% above league average. Throughout  his career, he has accumulated an overall OPS+ of 176, leaving him 5th all time only behind Lou Gehrig (179), Barry Bonds (182), Ted Williams (190), and Babe Ruth (206).



Now that we’ve gone over OPS and OPS+, these next two should be a bit easier to understand and apply. WRC (Weighted runs created) quantifies a player’s total offensive value and measures it by runs. WRC+ is just an improved model of this stat, and does the same thing that OPS+ does, which is that WRC+ takes into account the stadium the player is in, what league they are playing in, etc. WRC+ is also on the same scale as OPS+, and league average will always be 100. 

During his most recent full season in 2019 Mike Trout posted a 136 WRC, and a 180 WRC+, meaning he produced 80 more runs than the average player. And once again according to the chart below, Mike Trout totaled a higher WRC and WRC+ than the excellent rating.

WRC & WRC+ chart via https://library.fangraphs.com/offense/wrc/


wOBA (Weighted On Base Average)

This is probably one of the more difficult ones to understand, but once you pick it up you are golden. Basically this stat stands by the statement that “not all hits are created equal”  which is something that batting average doesn’t account for. OBP (On base percentage) does too, but takes it a step further due to the fact that it accounts for walks and HBP’s. OPS is the most accurate stat to use, but it doesn’t combine every aspect of hitting. wOBA (Weight On Base Average) however, does. 

The difference between OPS and wOBA, is that wOBA determines how well a player contributes to run scoring. Using the formula to convert wOBA to wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average), we can conclude that Mike Trout in 2019 was worth about 60.6 more runs than the average player. Mike Trout’s wOBA in 2019 was .436, and once again based on the chart below, you can see he obliterates even the excellent expectation.

Team Help

Now with all of Mike Trout’s amazing statistics aside, let’s talk about the team surrounding him. Hopefully by now we all understand how great Mike Trout is as a player, but let’s focus on the Angels. The Angels in 2020 had only two players besides Mike Trout break the .800 OPS mark; Anthony Rendon and David Fletcher. Referring back to the OPS chart below, .800 OPS is about league average. You mean to say that Mike Trout is expected to make the playoffs, let alone win the World Series, with a plethora of below-average MLB players on his team? But their pitching might be even worse. 

The Angels only had five players with an ERA (Earned Run Average) under 4, and two of those guys are bullpen pitchers. The lowest starter ERA on that team, (minimum 8 games started) was Dylan Bundy at a 3.29, and he is the best pitcher that the Angels have had in a while. Everyone starting pitcher on that team besides Griffin Canning and Jamie sat at an ERA of 4 or higher. It’s just not possible to win anything with that type of team in this era of the MLB. Seriously, the best player Mike Trout has ever been teammates with is Anthony Rendon. And how long has he been on the team you might ask?  11 months. He has only played 52 games with Trout.