Picking between peak Pujols or Trout today, who's better?

0 Comment

One of the amazing things about the return of Albert Pujols to St. Louis this weekend isn't about him at all. Before Friday, Redbird Nation had never gotten a first-hand look at the game's greatest player: Pujols' Angels teammate Mike Trout. Yet Trout's St. Lou debut barely caused a ripple in the flood of Albert love the past couple of days. You know it's a big deal when no one is paying attention to Mike Trout.

Maybe there is a good reason for that. St. Louis fans may never have seen Trout in person before, but they've certainly heard of his exploits and seen his unmatched career-to-date numbers. In fact, Trout may remind them of a certain former Cardinal, the one drawing more adulation along the banks of the Mississippi than Mark nfl jerseys china nike

Consider this an exercise in "you better appreciate what you got before it's gone." If Pujols were the same age as Trout right now, and you had to pick one or the other, whom would you take? It's Trout, right? You're probably on the money, but it's not as much of an open-and-shut case as you might think. To weight it objectively, you have to do your best to wipe away the Angels version of Pujols that we've seen the past few years from your consciousness. Try, if you can, to zero in on Pujols, circa 2007, when -- like Trout is now -- he was 27 years old.

First, consider this. Yes, Trout is considered baseball's best player right now by mass acclamation and he has held that unofficial title for several years. Earlier this year, I looked at the "best in the game" issue objectively, awarding the title to the top-ranked player by five-year win shares totals. The idea is that you don't lose your title because of an off-year, or a career season by someone else. It takes prolonged excellence to be considered baseball's king, and using rolling averages is a good way to model that effect.3

By that method, Trout has been baseball's best player at the conclusion of each of the past five seasons, from 2014 to 2018. He leads the majors in most bottom-line value metrics so far in 2019, so it seems all but certain he'll retain his crown through this season.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

There was a bit of anarchy at the top in the three seasons before Trout's ascension, with Andrew McCutchen, Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera each stealing the belt for a brief spell. Before that, Pujols was the titleholder, leading the way after each season from 2004 to 2010. In terms of king-fish status, Trout still has a couple more years to match the length of Pujols' reign.

As mentioned, Pujols' age-27 season was 2007, so when he was done with that campaign, he had been the game's top player for four years, and he had three more to go. We know that Trout will almost certainly still be considered the top player after this season. And it seems unfathomable that he'll relinquish the title any time soon. But you never know, right? Still, you would take your chances with a guy like that.

That's where Pujols was in terms of acclaim when he was Trout's age. He had been the game's best player for years and his performance record was virtually spotless. He was good at everything -- hitting for average and power, with discipline and in situations. He was the best in the game defensively at first base and was a tremendous baserunner. And he was right in the middle of his prime, one that seemed as if it would never end. Every great season looked a lot like the previous one. Kind of like with Trout.

Tags: , , , ,