You should know that only seven position players who ever lived have been worth 130 WAR or more. There's a good chance you've heard of them: Babe Ruth, Bonds, Willie Mays, Cobb, Hank Aaron, Tris Speaker and Honus Wagner.
Or there's this: The only men in history who put up that extra-base-hit total, regardless of any other numbers on their stat line, were Bonds, Aaron, Ruth and Mays. And only Bonds had 500 steals to go with it.
Or this: Here's the elite group with 500 steals and 500 doubles: Cobb, Wagner, Bonds, Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor. Period.
So if ZIPS is right, Trout will be walking with legends -- and only legends -- some day. But now here's something that's really scary:
ZIPS also projects there's a 10 percent chance Trout could have this career:
.319/.430/.577/1.077/625 HR/3,550 H/632 SB/2,250 R/1,434 XBH/170 WAR.
Yikes! And what are we looking at if he does that? Well, it would probably make him the greatest player in the history of Planet Earth. That's all.
But even if you want to be slightly more magnanimous to his forebears, the only possible comparables would be Ruth, Bonds or possibly, if you want to push the bar far enough, Mays. But that would be it.
So there you have it. The projectionists have spoken. Now it's up to us to decide what to make of the projections.
If you're familiar with Trout's work, you won't be surprised to learn that when we attempted to run these numbers past him, he wasn't interested.
"I'm not one of those guys who says, 'I want to try and be like this guy or be like that, with those kinds of numbers,'" he said.
When we later asked what kind of career he'd like to have if he were his own personal script writer, he replied, not particularly shockingly: "I don't think it would be numbers. It would be championships. Get to the playoffs. That's all. It doesn't matter what I hit."
And then he dropped the name of the player whose career he would most like to re-enact. Guess whose?
"It would have to be Jeter's," he said, because of all those rings on Jeter's fingers. "That's the only personal goals I have, is just to win championships."
OK, so obviously, this guy is determined to leave the projections -- and the job of deciding what they mean -- to us. And that's cool, because no one really knows for sure how accurate any projection will turn out to be, anyway.
"I just think it's hard to project even 15 years ahead," said another of Trout's teammates, C.J. Wilson. "So you have to temper your expectations. ... And I feel like if you project too much, it's almost like you're ruining the experience of watching somebody play."
Well, we'd sure hate to mess up the fun by doing something like that. So instead, let's focus on that experience. And when we do, you'll understand why this man is likely to age so well. Heck, even the pitchers who face him have grudgingly acknowledged that.
Now we turn the floor over to four veteran pitchers who have had the (ahem) pleasure of facing this Mike Trout dude, and have enough scars to show for it that they don't talk about him the way pitchers talk about normal 22-year-old hitters.