• OK, next let's just focus on Trout's bat alone. He now ranks second all time in OPS+ (which factors in both ballparks and eras) through his age-22 season (at 169). Ahead of him is only that Ted Williams guy (at 182). The six names right behind those two in modern history: Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Matthews, Rogers Hornsby, Mantle and Mel Ott. Whoever they are.
• But even if you measure him with more traditional numbers, Trout has already zoomed past 500 hits, 300 runs, 200 walks and 80 home runs. And only six other men could say that before their age-23 season: Williams, Mantle, Foxx, Ott, Al Kaline and Kenneth Griffey Jr. But here's where Trout separates himself from those six: No one else on that list had stolen more than 60 bases by this point. Trout has already swiped 96 bases.
Now we don't fire those numerological lightning bolts at you just to show off. We've unfurled them because they tell us something important:
Players who make this sort of impact this young don't fade away and don't turn into Bob Hamelin or Joe Charboneau. They just keep right on rocking.
Of the top 10 eligible names on that OPS+ list, nine (all but Sherry Magee) are in the Hall of Fame. Of the top 20 eligible names on the WAR list, 16 are in the Hall. And every eligible player in that 500/300/200/80 club is a Hall of Famer.
So no wonder the people who get to watch this act every day already believe that's where Trout is heading -- even though a lot of guys his age are still hanging out in the Carolina League.
"Obviously, he's only three years [into his career]," Angels third baseman David Freese said of Trout. "But I think it's fair to say he's well on his way to being one of the greatest ever."
"In 20-25 years, I think we'll be saying, 'That was probably one of the best athletes we've seen in the modern era,'" said Angels interim hitting coach Dave Hansen. "We'll say, 'He was amazing. He could hit. He could run like you wouldn't believe. And how 'bout his baseball instincts? He covered so much ground in center field.' That's what we're going to be saying. And just his numbers. Look at his numbers. I mean, they compare with all the greats."
So is that really where Trout is going? To a place where you can find only "all the greats"? Well, face it: It's easy for them to say and easy for us to say. But we took it one step further.
The fabled ZIPS career-projection model comes with no money-back guarantees, with no promises of perfection. So if it turns out not to be quite right in Trout's case, don't send your lawyers looking for us in the year 2034. OK?
But just this month, we asked ESPN.com's resident ZIPS expert, Dan Szymborski, to project Trout's career for us. Here's what his hard drive calculated:
• Trout's most likely career slash line (after 20 years): .286/.394/.514/.908. Based on that slash line alone, it would put Trout in roughly Gary Sheffield territory (.292/.393/.514/.907). But ...
• Now let's fill out the rest of the stat sheet -- with 2,862 hits, 519 stolen bases, 468 home runs, 547 doubles, 165 triples, 1,280 extra-base hits, 1,893 runs scored, 1,596 RBIs and a career WAR of 130.4. You'll find only one man in history who had that career: Mr. Barry Bonds, ladies and gentlemen. And that's all.