New Jersey is often on the end of numerous potshots. If you’ve seen anything featuring Zach Braff or heard the musical stylings of Bon Jovi, you know these criticisms aren’t totally unwarranted. But New Jersey isn’t without its merits. Mike Trout, born in Vineland and raised in Millville, is New Jersey’s brightest star in Major League Baseball at the moment. In fact, if the government decided for some reason to allocate funds to a New Jersey Mt. Rushmore, Trout’s goofy grin may adorn the monument, along with Bruce Springsteen, Tony Soprano, and Philip Roth.*
* Apologies to the Garden State if I missed anyone more worthy.
Using Baseball-Reference’s Play Index, Mike Trout is already eighth in career WAR for position players born in the great state of New Jersey, as he has been worth 20.8 wins in his brief career. And assuming he can amass a mere 3.4 wins next year — which is more or less a good six weeks for Trout — he’ll move up to fourth, trailing only Hall of Famers Joe Medwick, Goose Goslin, and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, who leads the list with 71.5 WAR.
It has been assumed that the reason Trout fell all the way to the 25th pick in the 2009 draft was due to his New Jersey-ness. New Jersey isn’t exactly a hot bed of baseball talent; the weather is bad and all the good athletes play football or basketball. And even though Trout excelled in high school, scouts presumed he was just taking advantage of weak competition. The scouts were wrong.
Not to jinx Trout, but given the prodigious start to his career it seems like he has a great chance to top this leader board by the end of his career, assuming he continues to benefit from good health. And who knows, maybe he’ll become the most beloved member of the New Jersey Mt. Rushmore. He probably likes onion rings and it’s in the realm of possibility he writes an Oscar-winning song for the Philadelphia sequel. Trout is a man of many talents.