In a game last night, Trout had four hits, which made me wonder how common it is for someone so young to collect that many hits. Looking at the last 20 years, here are the youngest players with four (or more) hits in a single game:
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
It's worth noting that Renteria actually had 4 four-hit games before his 21st birthday, Castro and Rodriguez each had 3, and Andrus has 2. Trout has two months to try and join that even more select group.
Now one game does not a star make, but looking at the other names on that list, it's an impressive bunch. That's largely a result of it being awfully hard to get called up to the Majors at such a young age; generally speaking, only highly touted prospects will be in a position to get four hits before their 21st birthday, and highly touted prospects have better odds at becoming great players.
Last night's game isn't what will be remembered about Trout this year, but it's an entry point for observing how well he's playing. His slash line is .338/.388/.559, giving him an OPS of .947. He's a few games away from having enough plate appearances to qualify, but if he did, his batting average would rank 3rd in the American League, his on-base and slugging percentages would also be among the top ten. His OPS would be 7th. He's also 7th in the league in stolen bases and playing great defense in center field.
By the Baseball-Reference version of WAR (as a reminder, WAR is an attempt to put all of a player's contributions, his hitting, his fielding, his running, etc. into one number) Trout is already at 2.0, which puts him in a tie for 12th place among all American League position players, and that's after not getting called up until April 28th, for the Angels 21st game of the year. Trout has played in just 34 games so far; if he stays healthy, he could play in another 100 to 105. It isn't wise to expect him to put up identical numbers over the rest of the season, but just for fun, let's multiply what he's done so far by four, to get a projection for what his end of year numbers might look like:
* .338/.388/.559, an OPS of .947 (which would rank 5th all time for a player 20 or younger)
* 184 hits (8th)
* 36 doubles (9th)
* 12 triples (8th)
* 20 HR (14th)
* 96 runs (15th)
* 88 RBI (9th)
* 36 SB (8th)
* 304 total bases (8th)
* 8.0 WAR (2nd)
By the way, here are the top five age-20 season by WAR (again, the B-R version):
Alex Rodriguez 9.2
Al Kaline 8.0
Mel Ott 7.3
Ted Williams 6.6
Ty Cobb 6.6
Yeah, those are five of the forty or so greatest players in baseball history.
Mike Trout will almost certainly fall short of just about all those season projections, but if he hits even a couple of them, he'll be among historically elite company. You should be keeping a close eye on Trout this summer.