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What Would Happen if This All-Star Was Not Injured in 2021

I get it. It’s the most devastating news any baseball fan can wake up to find. An injury to your team’s star player. And in the case of the Los Angeles Angels, a Mike Trout injury. Per OPS+, Mike Trout has been the best hitter on the planet since debuting on July 8th, 2011 with a massive 175. That means that for the entirety of his career thus far, he has been 75 percent better than league average. Yes, guys have had OPS+ numbers in that range… over single seasons. Hell, there are even guys currently active with multiple seasons of 175 or more. But none of them have full career OPS+ numbers of 175 or more. And let’s imagine just how much higher it would be if there never was any devastating news about a Mike Trout injury.

There is one tool that many do not consider when looking at star-caliber players. A sixth tool, if you will, and that is durability. If you look around the League today, you will find many top guys that just don’t have that durability gene. Byron Buxton, Yordan Alvarez, Jacob deGrom, even long-retired guys like Ken Griffey Jr., and many more. Call it bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or outside factors at play, but some guys just can’t stay on the field. And since the beginning of 2017, Mike Trout has been one of those guys.

Reversing the Mike Trout Injury Season of 2021

Trout’s Career So Far

Let’s get one thing straight: if Mike Trout retired today, he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There’s a very good chance that he would also be a unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer, joining Mariano Rivera on that hallowed list of unanimous HoFers. A career .302/.413/.585 hitter with 362 home runs, three MVPs, and leading the league in multiple different categories, multiple different times, Trout is the best baseball player this generation has ever seen. Did I mention that he has also been an above-average defender for the majority of his career? The true embodiment of a five-tool player.

From the time Trout debuted until the end of the 2016 season, he carried a Games Played Rate (GPR) of 91.95%. That works out to an average of 149 (148.96) games per season. In those 811 games, he carried a line of .306/.405/.557 with 168 home runs and a 170 OPS+. If you compare those numbers with his entire career numbers from above, you’ll find that the craziest part about all of this is that despite the injuries, he has been even better over the past seven seasons.

For the past seven seasons, Trout carries a GPR of 69.91%, which is an average of 113 (113.25) games per season. In those seasons, he carries a line of .297/.423/.621 with 194 home runs and a 181 OPS+. For today’s exercise, we’re going to be taking a deep dive into the 2021 season, one that was shaping up to be one of the best of his career and land him his fourth AL MVP award.

Revisiting The Mike Trout Injury, Real 2021

It was a short sample size for Mike Trout in 2021 before he went down for the count with a calf strain. But over those 36 games, he was hitting at a .333/.466/.624 clip with eight home runs and a 194 OPS+. That was a pace for 176 (175.5) hits, 36 home runs and doubles, five (4.5) triples, 81 RBI, and a fourth AL MVP award. But, we’re not here to talk about the pace he was on. We’re here to take his career rate stats along with the rates he was hitting at, and extrapolating them out to see how many more games he would have played and the stats he would have ended up with in that way.

First, we’ll find the number of games Trout would have played by taking the average of the two GPR of his career. That equals 80.93% or 131 games. We have already made a vast improvement in his career numbers, simply by adding another 95 games to his tally. But, how much closer would he be to 400 home runs? To 2,000 hits?  That’s our cue to dive into the counting stats.

Balls Not In-Play

To get us off on the right foot, we’ll need to find how many plate appearances Trout would have had over those 131 games. Through the real-life 36, he accrued 146 plate appearances or 4.06 per game. Extrapolate that out to 131 games and we get 531 (531.28) plate appearances. Out of those 146 plate appearances, 117 were at-bats or 3.25 per game. With our new games played total, he would have had 426 (425.75) at-bats. Now we need to determine how many balls were put in play.

First for home runs. His home run rate was actually down in 2021 compared to the rest of the past seven years but was more in line with his career rate. The last seven seasons have actually risen his career rate by 0.8%, so we’ll use that rate of 6.9% instead of the career rate of 5.7%. So taking the average of 2021’s 5.5% and 6.9% we get a rate of 6.2% which would give him a 2021 home run total of 33 (32.92). His strikeout rate for his career has stayed around 22.2% pretty consistently, so we’ll take the average of it and his 2021 rate of 28.1% and get a new rate of 25.2% (25.15). This would give him a season strikeout total of 134 (133.8), just over one strikeout per game, and leaving us with 259 balls put in play.

Balls In Play

Now that we know how many balls Mike Trout would have put in play in 2021, we can determine how many of those balls would have been hits. Trout carried an extremely high BABIP of .456 during his truncated 2021, compared to a career BABIP of .346. This makes it very easy to assume that the .456 BABIP was not sustainable over a larger sample size, and after taking the average of those two numbers, we have a new BABIP of .401. Still a massively high number, but a little more realistic and one that gives us a total of 104 (103.859) hits on balls put in play, for a grand total of 137 hits once you add in the home runs. We can now determine that Mike Trout’s revisited 2021 would have seen him finish the year with a batting average of .322 (.32159).

On-Base Machine

We can now move on to a much more important stat, and one-half of OPS, the on-base percentage. In only one season of Trout’s career, he finished with a walk rate below 10%, with that being in 2011, when he finished at 6.7%. He currently carries a career rate of 14.8%, the league average throughout his career is 8.2%, and in 2021 he had a rate of 18.5%. The average of 2021’s and his career’s walk rates equals a new 2021 walk rate of 16.7% (16.65). We have a new walk total of 89 (88.67) which leaves us with 16 more plate appearances to divide between HBP’s and sac flies.

Trout has been hit by a pitch almost twice as many times as he has hit a sac fly in his career (97 to 54 respectively), so we’ll give him 11 HBP and five sac flies. So, he would have reached base another 100 times via the HBP or walk, and he would have held an OBP of .446. Slightly lower than the .466 of the actual season, but still an insanely high number for a full season of baseball.


The only thing we have left to determine is Mike Trout’s slugging percentage. We have the home run total we need, but now we must determine how many of his hits would have been doubles or triples. 19.2% of Trout’s career hits have been doubles, and in 2021, he was hitting them at a 20.5% clip. Average those numbers out, and 19.9% (19.85) of Trout’s hits would have gone for an extra base. That gives him a season total of 27 (27.26) doubles. Trout has some sneaky speed, and 3.2% of his career hits have been triples. He did have one triple in 2021, which made 2.6% of his hits triples. At a new rate of 2.9%, he would have completed 2021 with 4 (3.97) triples.

We can now add up his total bases and find his slugging percentage, giving us the final piece of the puzzle. 64 of his 137 hits would have been extra-base hits, leaving us with 73 singles. Add that to the number of bases his extra-base hits would have accrued, and you get 271 total bases, giving him a slugging percentage of .636 (.63615), and we now have the entire puzzle completed of how a healthier 2021 for Mike Trout would look.


With a new line of .322/.446/.636, 33 home runs, and an OPS of 1.082, over 131 games, it’s very safe to assume Trout would have brought home his fifth AL MVP award. It would have helped him be able to have a more realistic shot at 400 home runs this season, as well as moving him one season closer to 2,000 hits. Unfortunately, the real world will never know what would have actually happened in 2021 thanks to yet another Mike Trout injury. But, it’s always fun to speculate.

Main photo credits:

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Players mentioned:

Mike Trout, Byron Buxton, Yordan Alvarez, Jacob deGrom, Ken Griffey Jr., Mariano Rivera


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