A Look at How Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle Compare Through Age 26

Updated on August 19, 2018
Mickey Mantle, shown here in about 1953, and Mike Trout, from 2014, were on similar career and Hall of Fame tracks through their first eight seasons.
Mickey Mantle, shown here in about 1953, and Mike Trout, from 2014, were on similar career and Hall of Fame tracks through their first eight seasons. | Source

Mike Trout recently turned 27, which is hard to believe because he’s been playing at Hall of Fame level for so long already. I’ve often read stories comparing him to Mickey Mantle, which seems like a good comparison, so I thought I’d see just how well they match up through their 27th birthdays.

Before seeing how they’re similar, though, let’s look at a few differences, starting with their physical size.

A Difference in Size

Mantle, in the 1950s, was considered a behemoth, a muscular specimen, a giant among men. He was 5-11, 195 pounds. This is the same size as Brett Gardner, Andrew McCutchen and Jason Kipnis, who are by no means considered giants today. In 2018 so far there have been 116 players who are 5-11 or less and 195 or less.

However, in 1958, Mantle’s age 26 year, he was same size or bigger than 167 players. There were 160 players bigger than him (remember, there were only 16 teams at the time so many fewer players).

In contrast, Trout is 6-2, 235 and just eyeballing it, seems much more muscular than Mantle. Yet Trout isn’t considered to be a giant these days. There are 120 players his size or bigger playing in 2018. But in 1958, only man-mountain Frank Howard would have outdone Trout in size.

Other Differences

The ballparks Mantle played in were also considerably larger than any that Trout plays in. Yankee Stadium, at the time, was 457 to center and stretched out to 461 feet in the leftfield power alley. Other stadiums, like Comiskey Park in Chicago and Tiger Stadium, were 440 feet to dead center. Currently, the field with the deepest centerfield is Minute Maid Park in Houston, at 436 feet. Most check in at 400 feet or slightly over.

There were a few other differences as well – in the 1950s, especially in the American League, teams didn’t steal a lot of bases. Starting pitchers were also expected to pitch complete games so Mantle didn’t have to face as many fireballing relievers. Conversely, if a starter was particularly good against him, he had to face him more often. And, of course, Mantle played in the limelight of New York City on some of the best teams in history, while Trout is in Anaheim, playing for a team that often seems like the little brother of the Dodgers and has made the postseason only once in his career.

Plenty of Similarities

But there are also plenty of similarities between the two – even in their nicknames. Mantle, from Commerce, Okla., was known as the Commerce Comet while Trout, from Millville, N.J., is known as the Millville Meteor (although I confess that until I saw that on Baseball Reference I had never heard Trout called that).

Both saw action as 19 year olds – Mantle played 96 games in 1951, Trout 40 games in 2011, so both had played in eight seasons by the time they turned 27. Mantle’s birthday on Oct. 20 came after the 1958 season, so he had completed his eighth season. Trout turned 27 on Aug. 7, so his eighth season isn’t finished yet (he’s currently on the disabled list).

By this time in their careers, both had won two MVP awards and both were considered one of a handful of the best players in the game.

Mantle Holds Slight Edge in Total Stats

Because Mantle played more games as a 19-year-old and finished his eighth season, he had played in 1,102 games by age 27, while Trout had 1,034. Still, their total numbers compare well. Mantle has a slight edge, as you might expect by playing 68 more games.

Mantle-Trout Through Age 26

 
G
PA
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
CS
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
OPS+
TB
Mickey Mantle
1102
4768
3937
890
1238
185
50
249
766
77
22
799
773
.314
.430
.577
1.006
176
2270
Mike Trout
1034
4547
3771
774
1155
221
43
231
629
186
34
670
971
.306
.415
.571
.987
174
2155

But let’s take a look at how their numbers compare when broken in 162-game averages (although in Mantle’s first 10 years, seasons were only 154 games).

Mantle-Trout 162-Game Averages

 
G
PA
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
CS
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
OPS+
TB
Mickey Mantle
162
701
579
131
182
28
8
37
113
12
4
118
114
.314
.430
.577
1.006
176
334
Mike Trout
162
712
591
121
181
35
7
36
99
29
5
105
152
.306
.415
.571
.987
174
338

Mantle Holds the Edge in Hitting

Mantle still held a slight lead in most of the categories when averaged out over 162 games. Trout hit a few more doubles and obviously stole more bases.

Mantle also hit better for average. In 1956 he won the Triple Crown with a .353 average, then topped it by hitting .365 the following year. Trout’s best season was .326 in his first full season.

Another surprising difference is in strikeouts. Although Mantle was considered a big-time swing-and-miss guy, with infamous meltdowns following K’s, he didn’t strike out nearly as often as Trout does. Trout’s 162-game average is 152 strikeouts compared to 114 for Mantle. Trout’s season high was 184 in 2014 and has fanned 136 or more times five times. Mantle’s career high was 126 in 1959 and that was one of only three times when he had as many as 120. The difference, though, was that Mantle led the league in strikeouts five times in his career, while Trout has done that only once.

So, as great as Trout is at mashing the ball, you have to give Mantle a slight edge in hitting.

Mantle Holds Slight Edge in Speed

Trout is known for his speed, as his stolen base totals attest. But so was Mantle - contemporaries of the day thought he was the fastest player in the Majors, even faster than Willie Mays. He was once timed from the left side of the plate to first base in 3.1 seconds, a time that as far as I know was matched only by Ken Griffey Sr.

As noted earlier, stolen bases were viewed differently in the 1950s than today, but as Mantle’s success rate shows, he was an elite base stealer. People who saw him in the 1950s believed that had it fit into the Yankees’ strategy, Mantle could have stolen 40 or 50 bases a year. (Mantle’s career high for a season was 21 steals, but he was only thrown out three times that year – during his age 24-26 years, Mantle stole 44 bases and was caught stealing seven times, an 86 percent success rate compared to Trout’s 84 percent success rate in his 24-26 seasons.)

So, on the speed side, Mantle probably held a tiny edge as well.

Fielding Goes to Mantle as Well

Since both players have been primarily centerfielders, it’s easy to compare them in that category. Over the years many people have tried to quantify fielding statistics but that takes in so many variables – wind, playing surface, size of the stadium, the pitcher’s ability and, often, the stat crunchers subjectivity – that I don’t put much stock in those numbers.

There is little doubt, though, that Trout is one of the premier centerfielders in the Major Leagues. But so was Mantle. In New York, a constant debate raged about who was the better centerfielder, Mantle, Mays or Duke Snider (although when it came to fielding, it was usually just Mantle and Mays).

Mays, of course, is considered to be one of the best – if not the best – centerfielder of all time. But if so, in his prime, Mantle was the second-best by a slim margin. With a centerfield that stretched out to 457 feet and a left-center of well over 400, Mantle had considerably more ground to cover than Trout, and he did so as possibly one of the top two centerfielders of all-time.

The video below from Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series shows just how much ground Mantle could cover in a short distance to make a catch – with a glove considerably smaller than the one Trout uses.

So, even in fielding, Mantle edges out Trout.

Mantle In a Class by Himself in Post-Season

There is also a category where Mantle is in a class by himself, although it is no fault of Trout’s that he can’t compare. By the time he turned 27, Mantle had already played in seven World Series. He had hit 11 homers and driven in 20 runs, and was a big reason the Yankees had won five of those seven.

Trout has been in the postseason just once, in 2014 when the Angels lost to Kansas City in three games. Trout managed just one hit, although it was a homer.

Both Players Among the Greatest Ever

Trout is well on his way to the Hall of Fame, and is probably the best all-around player in the game today. He certainly deserves to be compared with the all-time greats, and he compares very well to Mickey Mantle. But, at this point in their careers, Mantle held an edge. That doesn’t denigrate Trout’s greatness; it just highlights how great Mantle was.

Common wisdom has been that a player’s prime years are at ages 28-32, which would mean Trout is entering an time when he’ll be even better. But among the truly great superstars, I’ve noticed that their career years more often occur when they’re 24 or 25. That certainly was the case with Mantle, even though he had plenty of great years after that.

Mantle’s fatalistic outlook on life (he expected to die by age 40, as his father and grandfather had) led him to live in a way that didn’t help him as a player. He played just 10 more seasons after his age 26 season, the last several of them racked with various injuries. He retired after the 1968 season when he was just 36.

Hopefully, Trout will maintain a better outlook on life, stay healthy and give us another 15 or so seasons to watch him.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      3 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I had read this last night, and meant to comment, but I followed that great catch clip on over to Youtube, and spent about an hour and a half watching old highlights of Mantle, and interviews.

      Amazing that Mantle could hit for such a high average being a switch hitter, and generally looking to swing not just for contact, but big contact.

      Of course it seems to be clear that nowadays the pitchers have an average fastball velocity that is much much faster than in the days of Mantle, and so it's harder to swing for the fences and make contact.

    • baseballbrains profile image

      baseballbrains 

      3 months ago

      Love this article, great job. It's always tough to compare guys from different eras because things are so different (fields, equipment, training/technology, specialized positions/pitchers, etc...), but these two compare very well.

      Awesome that we get to watch one of the games all time greats play through his prime today, oh how I would have liked to watch Mantle!

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 

      3 months ago from Burlingame, CA

      Very nice comparison. As you finished the article, longevity could separate them.

      I love watching Trout.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, howtheyplay.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://howtheyplay.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)