Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout reminds old-timers of the legend Mickey Mantle. Trout also serves as evidence that old-timers tend to burnish their memories, because — astonishingly — Mickey Mantle was not this good so early in his career. In baseball, the 5-tool player is what Bleacher Report calls someone with “speed, power, contact, glove work and a cannon arm,” a stylized update on Branch Rickey‘s original version of the term.
Mantle and Willie Mays are arguably (it’s baseball, everything’s arguable) the gold standard for the 5-tool player. Among today’s players Mike Trout, the Pittsburgh Pirates Andrew McCutchen and the Washington Nationals Bryce Harper lead the (again arguable) list. (Sitting just above Manny Machado, Jason Kipnis, David Wright, Yasiel Puig, and Carlos Gonzalez?) But it’s Mike Trout whose boffo statistics really freak out sabremetricians — sending them into frenzies of praise. If you want to see why baseball is such an enduring, beautiful game, you should watch Mike Trout play a few innings. You’ll get to see the sport in its full glory.