Albert Pujols became just the fifth person ever to hit 2,000 RBI’s on Thursday. A home run to left field put him in the company of Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, A-Rod and Cap Anson. The triumphant moment was almost perfect. All they needed was the ball to commemorate the day. But one stubborn Detroit Tigers fan was determined to ruin it.
The 2,000th RBI ball was a home run. That makes it fair game to anyone that can come up with it. I believe the rule is either possession and a baseball move or a sacrifice of at least $30 of food. The Angels and Tigers both made attempts to trade for the ball, offering signed merchandise from Pujols and Mike Trout, but no dice. That fan was not going to give up that ball.
So, one would assume that if the fan was not going to give up such a valuable ball that they would want to sell it, right? In order for that to happen, it would first need to be authenticated by the MLB at the game it happened. This too was offered to the fan which he refused again and left the stadium. The ball is now worthless.
What kind of point could this fan have been trying to make? He didn’t want to give up the ball. That’s fine. Fans have the right to keep home run balls. He didn’t want trade the ball for a signed jersey or some bobbleheads. Also fine. The ball is probably more valuable. He didn’t even want it authenticated. That’s where the problem is. This fan just caught what could be the most valuable ball of 2019 season and he doesn’t want to do anything, but erase history.
If all he wanted was to say fuck you to Pujols, he couldn’t even accomplish that. When interviewed about the ball, Pujols says he doesn’t care about it.
After two record breaking free agency signings in the past few weeks, it has me wondering who will break it. My brother and I have always argued who the best player in the game is and I have always said Harper. I am a huge Harper fan and always will be. I respect his game and I don’t think anyone would deny he is up there. My brother has always said Mike Trout is the better player and it wasn’t until last season that my opinion started to shift.
In case you live under a bridge, Harper recently signed a 330 million dollar contract for 13 years with the Philadelphia Phillies. I will be 35 at the end of his contract while he will be closing in on 40. It is fully guaranteed with a full no trade clause and no opt out. Manny Machado signed a 300 million dollar contract a week earlier for 10 years and an opt out after 2023. These are two of the best players in the game and they deserved their pay, but neither one best player in the game. That title belongs to Mike Trout.
Last season alone, Trout led Harper in almost every offensive category. He played 19 less games, but still had a .060 higher batting average and 5 more home runs. Trout also had a larger on base percentage and slugging percentage. He had a walk percentage of 20.1%, while Harper had a strikeout percentage of 24.3%. Lastly, the most shocking, Trout had a WAR of 9.8 compared to Harper’s 3.5. This alone proves that Trout is better, not to mention that Trout has more MVP awards.
WAR is a measurement used in baseball to determine one’s worth to their team in games that they play. Trout has a career WAR of 64.3, which ranks 4th among current players. The top three are Puljos, Cano, and Caberra. All three of those players are above 35 years old, Trout is 27. Harper is 54th on the list, with a 27.4 WAR. To find the next guy in his 20’s on the list, you have to go down to #20 and it is Giancarlo Stanton with a 39.2 WAR. With the numbers Trout has been producing, it’s hard to imagine people thinking there is another player that is better than him, so it brings the question: Could Mike Trout get $500 million?
My answer is simple: yes. He COULD, but he won’t. Trout is going to set the new stage of contracts. Yes, Harper and Machado signed record breaking contracts, but Trout will too. His contract is up at the end of 2020, which is in 2 years. Mookie Betts will be up after this season and he will set the new standard, probably $350 million. I expect Trout to get at least $400 million over the course of 10-13 years. He will set the new bar that other players will be trying to reach for years to come.