Mike Trout is Climbing the List of All-Time Arkansas Travelers Greats


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Mike Trout is incredible. The former Arkansas Travelers player is only two-thirds of the way through his 7th major league season but has achieved feats only comparable to all-time greats like Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron. And considering that he will only be 26 at his birthday on Monday, it’s easy to foresee Trout earning a permanent place among these legendary players.

With that in mind, I took to Twitter back in September 2015 to make a bold claim about Trout’s legacy here in Arkansas. Even at that point nearly two years ago, I felt confident enough in Trout’s eventual place in history to assert that he will someday top the list of all-time greatest Arkansas Travelers players.

 

 

Of course, this claim was a bit premature. With names like Tris Speaker, Fergie Jenkins and Bill Dickey currently holding the top positions on the list of all-time Arkansas Travelers, Trout still has a ways to go before he reaches the top. But as he continues to build his astounding career, there’s no doubt that Trout is climbing the list –and fast. (In fact, while I was working on this piece, Trout added to his career numbers so fast that I had to update the table below several times).

So where is Trout when ranked against all other Arkansas Travelers players from history? To find out, I sorted through the major league careers of all several thousand Travelers players dating back to 1901. Since then, the Travelers have produced a healthy assortment of big leaguers, not the least of which are six MVP winners (including Trout) and two Cy Young winners. For simplicity, I chose to rank these players using Adam Darowski’s Hall Rating metric, part of his fabulous Hall of Stats project. Hall Rating is based on Baseball-Reference.com’s Wins Above Average and Wins Above Replacement and makes adjustments for things like position and schedule. The result is a handy little metric that gives us an easy way to compare the all-time greatest Arkansas Travelers players.

 

Five Arkansas Traveler greats in uniform. Left to right, Tris Speaker, Travis Jackson, Bill Dickey, Jim Bunning and Fergie Jenkins.

Trout Already an All-Time Great

The top fifteen all-time Arkansas Travelers, ranked by Hall Rating.

 PlayerYear(s) with TravelersMLB SeasonsbWARfWARHall Rating
1Tris Speaker (HOF)190822133.7130.6280
2Fergie Jenkins (HOF)1963, 1964, 19651984.980.1157
3Bill Dickey (HOF)1925, 1926, 1928, 19471755.856.1128
4Jim Bunning (HOF)1953, 19541759.466.6119
5Mike Trout2011753.052.4116
6Dick Allen19631561.360.0116
7Keith Hernandez19731760.059.4115
8Jose Cruz Sr.1969, 19701950.852.597
9Bobo Newsom19312048.155.993
10J.D. Drew19981444.945.987
11Travis Jackson (HOF)1921, 19221544.046.087
12Andy Van Slyke19821341.541.876
13Babe Herman19241340.342.775
14Placido Polanco19971641.337.374
15Ray Lankford19891438.139.872

Hall Rating leaves Trout roughly in the same territory as mustachioed Keith Hernandez and sideburned Dick Allen, the first black Traveler. By the end of the 2017 season, Trout should easily surpass both and probably even overtake Jim Bunning to move into fourth place behind Dickey. He’s got a long way to go before reaching Speaker status, but it’s not hard to see him passing Dickey and Jenkins in the next few years. At his current pace, he’d likely do so by the end of 2019 at age 28.

So while it’s too early to know whether my original tweet was baseball prophecy, Trout is quickly proving me more and more correct with every at-bat.


About Caleb Hardwick

Caleb is the creator and administrator of the both Arkansas Baseball Encyclopedia and Yakker. He's a lifelong Arkansan and baseball fan with a long history of mediocre athletic ability.

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