“Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, and I don’t think anybody can argue with that,” Harper told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.
Trout posted the best season at age 20 we have ever seen, per Fangraphs’ wins above replacement, beating out Alex Rodriguez’s 1996 campaign (9.2 fWAR) and besting a pantheon of MLB greats like Mel Ott (8.0 fWAR in 1929), Al Kaline (7.3 fWAR in 1955), Ted Williams (71. fWAR in 1939), Ty Cobb (7.0 fWAR in 1907) and Mickey Mantle (6.6 fWAR in 1952).
Trout followed that up with the best age-21 season of all time (10.5 fWAR) and then the ninth best age-22 season of all time (8.0 fWAR). With just 45 games played this year, Trout is already third in MLB history for most fWAR accumulated from age 20 to 23 (31.5), sandwiched again between some of baseball’s most recognized names like Williams (36.4 fWAR), Cobb (33.4 fWAR), Ott (28.8 fWAR) and Mantle (28.0 fWAR).
Harper has produced 13.6 fWAR from ages 19 to 22, his first four seasons in the league, which ranks 27th for that time frame and is on pace for 7.1 fWAR in 2015, which would be tied for the 17th best season by a 22-year-old. And even in what could be considered a down year for Trout, who is “only” batting .292 with a .384 on base percentage and .538 slugging, he is still fourth in baseball with 2.7 fWAR, less than one away from Harper, who has a long way to go to get into the conversation with Trout. Harper’s fWAR to date is 13.5 compared to Trout’s 32.2.
Plus, Trout brings more to the game than his bat. He ranks 12th among all qualified batters with 2.3 BsR this season, which means his stolen bases, caught stealings, and other base running plays (taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases, etc) is worth 2.3 runs above average. His defense is worth 3.6 runs above average after factoring in his position, which ranks sixth in the league among outfielders.
In other words, Trout is not only the best baseball player this season, he is on the road to being one of the best in MLB history.